The Importance of Performance Planning
Coaches work with performance plans or work plans to keep their employees motivated. They operate with such plans in place for each and every one of their team members. Performance planning is often what separates successful coaches from their less fortunate brethren, the dinosaur managers living in the corporate equivalents of Jurassic Park.
The first phase of a performance plan consists of goals, sometimes referred to as objectives. It's important that you work closely with your employees in getting their input into the various performance-related goals that get performance plans off and running.
Next, in concert with your people again, you fix target dates for reaching these goals and establish the time parameters of the plans. Throughout the unfolding of any and all performance plans, your staff should be fully in the loop. Under your careful supervision, they should co-author their individual performance plans and, of course, be largely responsible for seeing them through to successful conclusions.
How much time should performance plans cover?
A performance plan can span one, two, even ten years. But realistically, it's best to keep such plans under six months. Longer periods of time tend to make such plans lose their precision and focus. Metaphorically speaking, performance plans should be lean, mean, and deliver the green.
Each member of your team can simultaneously work with several performance plans (no more than six at a time is a good rule of thumb), covering the full range of his or her jobs and responsibilities.
And individual performance plans, inaugurated with reasonable goals, should span time periods that don't take you and your employee into the world of The Jetsons. Intricate planning too far into the future often results in fuzziness and a loss of clarity, something all coaches want to avoid like the plague.
The goals or objectives in a performance plan are very simply what you — the coach — expect your employees to accomplish. As a coach, you arrive at these goals in one-on-one consultations with your staff members. The goals should be both clear and realistic.
Standards of Performance
The standards of performance — the quality bars that you set — are your next consideration to insert in performance plans. Standards, for short, are essentially the meat on the bone of the goals, establishing expectations for the quality of the results and overall performance in achieving each goal. Depending on the nature of the job or project, this could mean upgrading customer service to a particular level, meeting specified sales targets, product upgrades, and so on.
Performance plans are part of the arsenal of every good coach. You work with these plans, which are comprehensive road maps designed for each one of your employees, specifically detailing what they are expected to do. Performance plans are collaborative efforts made by you in concert with your individual team members.
This brand of thorough planning stands in unmistakable contrast to the management methods that operate one day at a time without an eye on tomorrow, let alone 30, 90, or 180 days into the future. “One day at a time” works wonders in self-help programs, but it amounts to poor business planning, especially where foresight is an essential ingredient, and particularly in this fast-paced, technologically advanced world.