A performance improvement plan is an essential element to a successful performance management strategy. Traditionally performance improvement plans were only created and utilized for the underperforming employees. When the annual performance reviews were created, a specific performance improvement plan was created to specifically address the areas in which the employee was rated below the performance standard for a specific area of their job responsibilities.
These performance improvement plans were designed to provide additional training so that the employee could meet and surpass the specific performance standards in which they were underperforming. These performance improvement strategies were reactive in nature, whereas they were only utilized after the poor performance occurred. However to set up a highly effective performance improvement plan, it should be proactive by diagnosing potential knowledge and skills gaps and help the employees close the gaps before it affects their job performance.
The basis for any performance plan must be a detailed listing of the jobs duties and responsibilities, preferably in the form of a job description, and an understanding of the knowledge and skills that are needed in order to perform the job at a high level. Some highly successful companies utilize job competencies in conjunction with their job descriptions to define what knowledge and skills are needed in order to successfully perform the job duties and responsibilities.
A good performance improvement plan does not just target the potential low performing employees, but is utilized for all employees. After the job duties and knowledge and skills are defined, you must identify any potential gaps within your employee's knowledge and skills that could lead to poor job performance. Once these gaps are identified a performance improvement plan should be created to ensure that any skill deficiencies are eliminated before an employee's performance is adversely affected. The performance improvement plan should also identify the knowledge and skills that the employees must acquire to achieve outstanding performance as well. The performance improvement plan could be comprised of additional knowledge and skills training, job shadowing, or mentoring programs.
An effective performance improvement plan should be used in employee career development as well. Through the use of a performance improvement plan, an employee can assess themselves against the knowledge and skills needed for the next stage of their career. By identifying the knowledge and skill gaps that the employees have for their next job, they can actively work on acquiring those skills. If there are no gaps found, both the employer and the employee know that they are ready for a promotion. Utilizing the performance improvement plan process to assess employee's readiness for promotional opportunities can be highly effective in managing your company's succession plan.
By utilizing a proactive performance improvement plan as part of your overall performance management strategy you can not only eliminate poor performance before it occurs, but you can enhance the knowledge and skills that your employees need to achieve a high level of performance and progress through their career within your company instead of forcing them to seek opportunities elsewhere.