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The 585 Approach. 8 steps to developing an employee performance plan

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Developed based on the US Office of Personnel Development Performance (OMP) methodology of turning organizations into performance driven work places, the 585 Approach relies on Key Actions to guide you through a simplified performance process. This consists of 8 steps taken to develop an individual plan and 5 performance principles designed to highlight when performance initiatives are needed.

As mentioned in a previous article, in order to implement a coordinated performance management, there is one essential tool that is necessary to be employed: this is the Employee Performance Plan.

It’s more than a simple form to fill as it also integrates the essence of organizational performance culture and strategy, cascading company vision to individual level activity.

The process of developing the plan is structured on several key steps, starting from top to bottom.

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Analyze the organizational context

Every initiative looking to impact the entire organization, needs to start from the organizational strategy and business goals, and determine what the organizational approach towards performance is. How mature is the organization in identifying its own needs of performance, necessary to sustain its strategy.

Take a look at each departmental results and goals

After isolating the performance appetite of the organization and the way in which it is managed, it’s important to understand what the performance footprint of each department is, across the company.

How important is a particular team, or department, in the performance ecosystem? Basically, what are the others expecting from that unit?

The question can be answered by using 3 different perspectives, either individual, or mixed. Goal-to goal is one of them, representing the reflection of organizational goals into the departmental ones.

The second option is to start from the business purpose of the unit and transfer it into its set of specific products or services delivered to internal and external clients.

The final perspective is to take a deeper look at the internal workflows, and identify the key success factors so you can transform them into standard performance elements.

Determine individual contribution

The process takes us further, closing up on the individual perspective, the main reason for walking on this road.

To assess individual performance, it is critical to identify the role each person has within their team, or department. What is currently expected from them, and what is the real contribution they bring to organizational system? Despite our equal rights, not all of us have equal contributions, and this is a fact.

Develop performance elements

Based on the expectations set by individuals, the transition towards the individual performance toolkit is made through segmentation and prioritization. Basically, we need to answer the following questions: What is the most important input this person brings into the organization?

By answering this question, another crucial issue is implicitly solved: what is worth monitoring and evaluating, on that basis of employee input? What is his/her added value, and what are the critical success factors necessary to attain high performance in that job?

Identify qualitative and quantitative elements that are easy to measure, and transform them into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Be short and easy to follow. Decide what type of results you want included into the performance plan. In order to efficiently monitor and manage the newly formed performance elements, only one, single point of focus in evaluation is highly recommended.

Based on the specificity of the KPIs, they can be filtered accordingly to quantity (how much of x does the employee need to deliver/to do), quality (how well? at what levels of quality?), timeliness (how fast does someone need to do/to deliver?), cost-effectiveness (how much savings are produced?).

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Develop limits and thresholds

For every accomplishment realized within the performance plan, a monitoring base is needed. This is why limits and thresholds are set in place, offering a good image on the expectations related to results.

If you use limits and thresholds as risk management information sources, then there is no need to worry. It is exactly what you should be doing. However, if this is not the case, then, perhaps, you should reconsider your procedures of choice.

Determine how to monitor performance

Monitoring performance should be a natural process if the performance metrics are well defined and expressed. Most of the time, the challenges are of a different nature. This consist in defining what data is to be collected for each performance element, what is the collecting frequency, what tools we have in place to implement this process, and so on.

If the correctly set KPIs indicate the type of data needed to be collected, the frequency should be as constant as possible, and not only once a year, as it is widely believed. Also, as monitoring performance is not happening by itself, someone will be put in charge, as process owner.

Use verification questions at the end

Finally, after a challenging process, the performance plan is finally taking shape while the old, complicated, and impersonal evaluation system is reduced to a new, thinner interface.

However, it is always good to double check and try to validate all the functionalities and features.

The OMP developed few guiding questions to help calibrate your efforts:

  • Are the performance elements truly relevant?
  • Are the performance expectations quantifiable, observable, and/or verifiable?
  • Does failure on the accomplishing the targets set will lead to an unacceptable level of performance?
  • Are the performance standards attainable?
  • Are the standards challenging but fair across the same range of employees?
  • Are the standards fair? Are they comparable to expectations for other employees in similar positions? Do they allow for some margin of error?

That being established, take some time to think on the above-mentioned information, while also isolating the best road to successfully develop an employee performance plan.

This is article is part of a series dedicated to the 585 Approach of Employee Performance Measurement.

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