Performance Development Planning (PDP)

You Can Manage Employee Performance by Setting Appropriate Goals

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If you are looking for the process that provides the heart of your performance management system, you've found it. The Performance Development Planning (PDP) process enables you and the people who report to you to identify their personal and business goals that are most significant to your organization's success.

The process enables each staff person to understand their true value-add to the organization. They do so when they understand how their job and the requested outcomes from their contribution "fit" inside your department or work unit's overall goals. They will also understand how their expected performance contributes to the strategic success of their total organization.

Personal Developmental Goals

In the process, staff members also set personal developmental goals that will increase their ability to contribute to the success of your organization. The accomplishment of these goals also provides a foundation for their career success whether in your organization or elsewhere, so they ought to be motivated and excited about achieving these goals.

Your system of Performance Management, with the PDP process for goal setting and communication with employees, will ensure that you are developing a superior workforce. The effort to build a superior workforce and make great hires through this process is essential.

McKinsey says, "A recent study of more than 600,000 researchers, entertainers, politicians, and athletes found that high performers are 400 percent more productive than average ones. Studies of businesses not only show similar results but also reveal that the gap rises with a job’s complexity. In highly complex occupations—the information- and interaction-intensive work of managers, software developers, and the like—high performers are an astounding 800 percent more productive."

PDP meetings are held at least quarterly to review the staff person's progress on the overall goals and objectives. Your staff person's progress on the action plans that result from the PDP goals is reviewed at your weekly one-on-one meeting. This weekly meeting allows you to offer assistance and to identify any help or tools the staff person needs to succeed.

Make the Performance Development Planning Meeting Successful

Proper planning will help you make the PDP meeting more successful. When you properly approach the performance and contribution discussion, you have a better chance to create a high performing team member.

  • Schedule the Performance Development Planning meeting and define pre-work with the staff member.
  • The staff member reviews personal performance for the quarter, writes business and personal developmental goal ideas on the PDP form and gathers needed documentation, including 360-degree feedback results, when available.
  • The manager prepares for the PDP meeting by clearly defining the most important outcomes needed for the staff person's job within the framework of the organization's strategic plan.
  • The manager writes business and personal developmental goal ideas on the PDP form in preparation for the discussion.
  • The manager gathers data including work records and reports and input from others familiar with the staff person’s work.
  • Both the manager and the employee examine how the employee is performing against all criteria, and think about areas for potential development.
  • The manager develops a plan for the PDP meeting which includes answers to all questions about the performance development planning process with examples, documentation, and so on.
  • Recognize that this process takes place quarterly and that the most time and work are invested in the first PDP meeting. The rest of the quarterly PDP goals, maybe for years, update the initial goals.

So, while seemingly time-consuming on the front end, the PDP process, with a formal, effective foundation of solid personal and business goals, is less time consuming as quarters pass.

The PDP continues to create business and employee success and value during its lifetime. With quarterly updates (or even more frequently if you believe an employee will benefit from more coaching, the PDP process contributes to the future.

During the Performance Development Planning (PDP) Meeting

  • Establish a comfortable, private setting and chat a few minutes to establish rapport with the staff person.
  • Discuss and agree upon the objective of the meeting: to create a performance development plan.
  • The staff member is given the opportunity to discuss the achievements and progress accomplished during the quarter.
  • The staff member identifies ways in which they would like to further develop their professional performance, including training, assignments, new challenges and so on.

So, while seemingly time-consuming on the front end, the PDP process, with a formal, effective foundation of solid personal and business goals, is less time consuming as quarters pass.

  • The manager discusses the employee's performance for the quarter and suggests ways in which the staff member might further develop his performance.
  • The manager provides input to the employee's selected areas of personal and professional development and improvement.
  • Discuss areas of agreement and disagreement, and reach consensus.
  • Examine job responsibilities for the coming quarter and, in general.
  • Agree upon standards for performance for the key job responsibilities for the quarter.
  • Discuss how the goals support the accomplishment of the organization's business plan and the department's objectives.
  • Set goals together for the quarter.
  • Agree upon measurement for each goal.
  • Assuming performance is satisfactory for the quarter, agree on a personal and professional development plan with the staff person, which helps him or her grow professionally in ways important to him and your organization.
  • If performance is less than satisfactory, develop a written Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), and schedule more frequent feedback meetings. Remind the employee of the consequences connected with continued poor performance.
  • The manager and the employee discuss the employee's feedback and constructive suggestions for the manager and the department.
  • Discuss anything else the manager or employee would like to discuss, hopefully, maintaining the positive and constructive environment established thus far, during the meeting.
  • Mutually sign the Performance Development Planning document to indicate the discussion has taken place.
  • End the meeting in a positive and supportive manner. The manager expresses confidence that the employee can accomplish the plan and that the manager is available for support and assistance.
  • Set a time-frame for a formal follow-up meeting, generally quarterly. Set the actual date for the follow-up meeting.

Following the Performance Development Planning Meeting

  • If a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) was necessary, follow up at the designated times.
  • Follow up with performance feedback and discussions regularly throughout the quarter. (An employee should never be surprised about the content of feedback at the quarterly performance development meeting.)
  • The manager needs to keep commitments relative to the agreed upon personal and professional development plan, including time needed away from the job, payment for courses, agreed-upon assignments and so on.
  • The supervisor needs to act upon the feedback from departmental members and let staff members know what has changed, based on their feedback.
  • Forward appropriate documentation to the Human Resources office and retain a copy of the plan for easy access and referral.

The Bottom Line

When your organization develops the discipline and commitment necessary to carry out regular performance development planning, your organization will win. This systematic method for cascading goals and commitment throughout your organization will ensure your success. Can you think of a better way to communicate and measure your key strategic objectives to ensure progress and success?

Article Sources

  1. McKinsey & Company. "Attracting and retaining the right talent." Accessed June 28, 2020.