What is a performance development plan (PDP)?

A performance development plan is a process that enables you and your team members to identify strengths and areas for improvement, set goals, and outline a strategy to achieve those objectives. A PDP acts as the basis of your regular performance conversations with your team members and is the plan for how they can reach their performance objectives.

How can a performance development plan help you?

An employee should never be surprised about the feedback they receive in their annual review because discussions on their performance should be happening on a regular basis. PDP’s are a valuable tool for managers to use during regular 1:1 meetings to be able to offer assistance or suggestions on blockers, give recognition for progress, and make adjustments in the plan as necessary.

Other benefits of performance development plans:

  • Accountability
  • Better alignment across team and organization objectives
  • Measurable progress and results
  • Strategic employee development

How to create a Performance Development Plan

As a manager, you will take the lead in this process, reviewing performance and making recommendations to help your team members create their plans. The PDP will be the outcome of a meeting held between yourself and your team member - usually held quarterly and after a performance review if possible. There are 7 main steps to follow in the meeting.

Preparation

Schedule the PDP meeting with your team member at least 2 weeks out. This will give each of you time to do the pre-work.

Review performance

Begin by discussing performance over the past period, focusing on goals and objectives, achievements, and progress made, and areas for focus for the coming period. It is helpful to reference the most recent performance review, other feedback received, and previous goals and objectives.

Identify improvement areas

Team members should decide on 1-3 specific areas related to their performance where they want to improve. Your role as a manager is not to decide for your team members but to help guide them define areas that make sense both for the individual, but also for the team and organization.

Align on expectations

Make sure you are both aligned on work expectations - what projects or initiatives need to be worked on in the coming period and what KPIs should be achieved together with their areas of performance improvement.

Create actionable steps with metrics and milestones

Under each area, employees should list specific steps they will take to achieve their goals, projects, and KPIs. Define the metrics and milestones that will help your team members measure their progress. In other words, how will they know when they’ve achieved success? A few ways to track progress include:

  • Performance results
  • Completion of tasks
  • Skills development

Identify support and needed resources

It is important to also outline what resources your team member will need to be successful in their plan. Types of needed resources may include:

  • Time away from regular responsibilities
  • Additional personnel - mentors, coaches, team members
  • Additional time with you

In this step, you will see if the organization can adequately support these needs. If not, you may need to adjust the action plan to come up with something more attainable.

Review and finalize the plan

Once you’ve gone through these steps and have a clear plan, it is time to do one last review. This gives you a chance to make sure the plan is aligned with the organization, catch inconsistencies, and finalize the action plan. As you are reviewing, consider the following:

  • Does your team member understand the expectations for their performance?
  • Do the goals support these expectations?
  • Is the plan clear and focused? Are the steps specific and actionable?
  • Are the goals measurable? Is there any way to make the goals more quantifiable?
  • Are the milestones and timelines reasonable?
  • Can you provide the necessary resources for them to be successful in this plan?

Once the plan is finalized the team member should enter their goals in Impraise (if they haven’t already done so earlier) and you should add a recurring topic to your 1:1 agenda to discuss the performance development plan.

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