Hitting the Target

Features - Workplace Management Series

Performance plans can help to create results within your business.

May 6, 2013
Timothy Bednarz

A performance plan differs from a conventional business plan in that it is a proactive document. It is designed for continuous use throughout the year as a guide to direct the leader and his or her business unit’s activities. The primary purpose is to create results and maximize performance.

Managers often produce an annual performance plan for senior management. Leaders view performance planning as an opportunity to analyze actual past performance. It helps them identify ways to improve their personal and organizational unit’s performance and productivity.

Managers can continually reference their performance plan as a road map throughout the year to guide and direct their activities and courses of action as well as those of their subordinates.

Leaders work and plan under the direction of senior management, which forms operational and tactical strategies directing activities during the year. Typically leaders are responsible for specific aspects of the operational and tactical plans, and their performance plans are directly linked to assigned goals. How leaders accomplish these objectives is self-defined. This is where they have an opportunity to shine.

Leaders are driven by a vision of what is possible, not by what is expected. In formulating a performance plan, they begin with initial preparation before the plan is formally written and executed. This preliminary process includes:

Collecting and Correlating Data
Leaders collect and correlate the information they developed during a review of their organizational unit’s prior performance. This provides a complete picture of the unit’s successes and weaknesses. It helps pinpoint how successes can be capitalized on and identifies the problems and issues that must be resolved to maximize the unit’s performance.

Leaders ensure their plans coincide with their visions. This is necessary if their visions are to be attained. They analyze and make sure plans can be incorporated into their overall goals and objectives.

The information collected from these two planning activities provides reliable insight and direction. It becomes the foundation for all future performance plans.

A leader obtains input and feedback from all members of his or her unit. This strategy greatly increases the probability that individuals will accept the plan and implement the necessary strategies ensure its success.

Leaders use brainstorming to get reliable feedback. They use this feedback to creatively approach the development of their performance plans. They need to “think outside of the box” to view their goals and objectives creatively and without bias. Brainstorming accomplishes this by encouraging entrepreneurial thinking.Then leaders can easily define the issues concerning maximizing unit performance from various perspectives.

The purpose of brainstorming is not only to identify ways to achieve goals and complete tasks; it is used as a method to seek out information and ideas for exceeding normal expectations. Effective brainstorming also helps them improve budgetary performance as it maximizes the use of assigned resources.

Formulating Plans
Throughout the preparation and brainstorming planning phases, the performance plan begins to take shape. Senior management has assigned the overall goals and objectives. Feedback and analysis from the organizational unit details what needs to be accomplished. Assumptions then can be made to form the basis of the plan.

Leaders clarify the specific direction the organizational unit will take. The steps needed to achieve this direction are carefully outlined and detailed. Each step is then formulated into specific objectives along with the activities required to attain the chosen course of direction.

Leaders then assign specific tasks and responsibilities to each individual. These assignments become part of the performance plan, assuring that all objectives will be accomplished.

Leaders ensure each subordinate assigned to a task has the resources to be successful. Additionally, each task and responsibility includes established milestones so subordinates understand exactly what they need to do, by when. Milestones provide leaders with performance standards to ensure assigned tasks and responsibilities are accomplished in a timely fashion. This allows for effectively managing the plan as well as for making adjustments.

Formalizing Plans
The final step of performance planning is to formalize a written plan. Leaders make sure their plans clearly and precisely detail the goals and objectives of the entire organizational unit. Plans also include a timeline plotting each task, responsibility and milestone. Each time segment details individuals responsible for specific tasks and their accomplishment and defines the resources to be allocated. All supporting data and assumptions collected throughout the planning process is included to substantiate the plan.


This text was excerpted from Planning to Maximize Performance: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series, by Timothy F. Bednarz. More information is available from www.majoriumbusinesspress.com.