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A Performance Work and Development Plan

Any organization, public or private, profit or non-profit must pay attention to certain responsibilities in order to grow and prosper. For example, the organization must:

  1. Establish a mission and organizational philosophy.
  2. Establish policies and procedures.
  3. Set objectives and develop plans for carrying out these objectives.
  4. Establish measures of performance.
  5. Develop programs to enable people to achieve the organization’s objectives.
  6. Motivate people to produce.
  7. Create an expectation that supervisors and employees can develop themselves to meet changing organizational needs and to grow personally.
  8. Provide the necessary information and resources.

A Work Plan and a Development Plan are two documents intended to help individuals in an organization fulfill these expectations. They keep supervisors focused and help implement decisions aimed at achieving the organization's long and short term objectives. They help individual employees focus their job responsibilities and achieve their personal goals and objectives as well as their organization's.

These documents, the Work Plan and the Development Plan, deal with the foundation and substance of every individual's work life. They help both management and the employee keep pace with each other, and, are basic to an individual's success and to any organizations survival.

Work Plan: Rationale

One critical goal of a Performance Management System is making performance information more readily available to employees. Historically, people have had to scratch long and hard to find out what they were being held accountable for in their jobs. It has often been difficult for employees to have "success" clearly defined at the start of the performance cycle, and to receive criteria for regular feedback on how they were doing.

Anything that can be done to remedy this situation, to assist supervisors in clarifying priorities, setting the focus, and giving adequate and regular feedback is well worth the time and effort it would require.

The Work Plan is one vehicle for providing this information and feedback. The plan does this by:

  1. Encouraging dialogue around specific tasks and/or projects.
  2. Sharpening job focus and performance expectations.
  3. Basing the performance evaluation and feedback on priorities agreed upon by both the employee and supervisor.

The Work Plan specifically answers these three (3) question:

  1. What job responsibilities or projects will I focus on in the next six (6) months? (These are the key projects or areas of responsibility for which you are held accountable by your supervisor.)
  2. What activities will I have to accomplish to successfully carry out each of these responsibilities or projects?
  3. What are the expected results? (Quantitative or qualitative statements, including measures in percentage (%), dollars ($), units (#), and/or a list of tasks or behaviors.)

A Work Plan makes things happen by identifying important items. Too often a job has a detailed description of every function but no overall framework. The Work Plan is designed to make the job easier to manage. The document also helps manage time and can identify areas that may need special attention. Departments run more smoothly when individual members are able to identify and understand their work objectives within the overall framework of the department.

A Work Plan is a fluid working document, open to change and re-direction as necessary. It does not replace the job description, but illuminates it.

A Work Plan Guide And Details

STEP 1. Written Communication

Major Areas Of Responsibility

Independently, employee and supervisor must list 3-5 major areas of responsibilities (*) for thatjob. The Position Description and work units goals and objectives are used as resource material for this task.

Expectation Of Performance

Expected results, in the form of qualitative statements and/or quantitative measures, are then listed for each key responsibility.

Qualitative measures are narrative descriptions of successful task or project completion. Example: “satisfied clients as indicated by a lack of complaints.”

Quantitative measures are concrete indicators that represent successful achievement of a task or project. Examples: measures such as units produced, clients served, schedules maintained, and dollars produced or saved.

The employee also lists any additional resources necessary to achieve the expected results.

STEP 2. Oral Communication

Employee and supervisor meet to discuss and realistically check the focus of the Work Plan. Effective communication is established to share thoughts, ideas, and perceptions.

STEP 3. Written Communication

Agreement is reached after the initial discussion is completed. The plan is written on the appropriate form and each person receives a copy. At that time, any additional resources required are also discussed and included in the plan.

STEP 4. Oral Communication

The employee and supervisor agree to meet regularly, formally and informally, to discuss progress and make any necessary changes in the plan.

Note: If an employee is brand new to the organization, the supervisor may fill out the Work Plan the first time, but during the step 2 discussion, the employee’s ideas and perceptions must also be included on the form.

Note: During the formal Performance Appraisal meeting — the Work Plan will be among the resources used for discussion of past performance.

(*) Project names may be used in place of key responsibilities

Remember: The Work Plan is an interactive “working” document — it is fluid and may be changed during the performance period as priorities change or new constraints/obstacles appear.

A Development Plan: Rationale.

Higher levels of educational attainment, a higher availability of new technology, and a rapid rate of change affecting the environment are both a threat and a challenge to the individual and to the organization.

Given this situation, people are becoming more assertive in finding new ways to express themselves. Organizations are, in turn, also struggling with these changes and are moving away from past marginal habits in order to survive in the present. This survival process ties people and their organizations together in a way that makes it imperative for both to accept responsibility for each one's growth and development.

There are many theories on personal development, but all agree that the process is a continuum in which individuals pass through several phases of change. As people go through these periods of change they gain an understanding of themselves and their abilities. This self-knowledge leads to a need for job satisfaction and a need to test that knowledge, to stretch present abilities, and to acquire new skills. Employees with a precise and organized Development Plan can achieve full and unique potential benefits from the process, as can their organizations.

The Development Plan can be used in these four (4) ways:

  1. To develop a plan for personal growth and job enrichment


    To learn a new skill or system.

    To learn a better way of doing current job.

    Take on a new project or job responsibility that challenges the individual’s strengths or develops a skill.

    * The purpose here is to enrich someone’s current job; to make it challenging, enjoyable, and interesting to come to work.

  2. To strengthen performance or improve a skill that does not meet position requirements


    To refine a required technical skill.

    To strengthen a communication or interpersonal skill (such as making a verbal presentation or a written report.)

    To improve work results or style — e.g., output is not as accurate or on time as it needs to be.

    * The purpose here is to bring someone up to the necessary level of performance.

  3. To acquire a new skill, ability or know-how needed by the department


    A current system being upgraded to improve the department’s output.

    A new piece of equipment is being introduced.

    The direction of the department has changed or the department has acquired new responsibilities or areas that require the employees to also change their direction.

    * The purpose here is to help employees keep pace with whatever direction their department is going or may want to go.

  4. To prepare the employee for any future plans they have for themselves


    Learn a new skill that is a level above what that individual is currently doing; e.g., take a course, attend a training session, or enroll in an on-line computer tutorial program.

    Find out more about the organization, e.g., its direction and needs as well as finding resources that can help it.

    Create a career Development Plan together — supervisor and employee — that utilizes current skills and abilities.

    * The purpose here is to meet an individual’s need to change jobs and/or direction.

    Note: Not all of these areas may be worked on at the same time — the supervisor and employee may need to focus on certain areas during a given period of time. The key here is to strike a balance between individual and departmental goals without risking one for the sake of the other.