What is a Performance Management Plan?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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A performance management plan is a formal process used to create clear goals and track progress efficiently and effectively. The techniques used to develop and complete the plan are standard and can be used in a range of circumstances. The type of performance being managed can be at the organizational, departmental or employee level. People who work in a union environment are accustomed to the term "performance management plan" being used to describe a micromanagement style that typically occurs before a staff member is subject to discipline for poor workplace performance.

At the organizational level, a performance management plan is used by senior managers to set specific targets and ensure that they are met. The first step in this type of plan is to devise a mission statement that succinctly describes the work to be done. This statement will be repeated through the project and used to increase commitment from staff members and improve the overall level of effort.

A department that is consistently underperforming or marginally meeting monthly and quarterly metrics might benefit from a performance management plan. The target goals are clearly set and are achievable. A series of regular meetings is scheduled to evaluate progress toward this goal. In many departments, a reward system is used, and shame for performance failure is a tactic used in some departments.


Developing this type of management plan for an underperforming employee is the responsibility of the supervisor or manager, together with a member or members of the human resources staff. The best plans are quite simple, with a list of the employee's primary responsibilities and the corresponding targets or goals. At regularly scheduled intervals, the manager and the employee meet to review the performance to date and discuss any issues or challenges that are affecting performance.

In many organizations, the formal performance management plan includes posting the targets in a highly visible place. Weekly meetings are held to update the progress toward the targets and to single out staff members who have made a significant contribution. While this aspect of the performance management plan is quite viable, the most important part of a successful plan is completed in strategic meetings with senior managers.

The identification and correction of business process flaws and barriers to success are essential. The selection of targets must be completed with care, ensuring that the entire process is within the department's area of control. This type of focused approach will encourage full participation, because staff members will have all of the tools necessary to achieve the goals.


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