Planning for the start of 2020

Len Romano

Is your performance plan template a motivator or a downer?

Len Romano, TLG Director Not-for-profit Practice

September is the month when organizations on a calendar fiscal year should be in the budget and performance planning process. With a major focus on the construction of the new budget, it is easy to take for granted how the performance plan template that has been used for years can have either a positive or negative impact on achieving financial targets and strategic goals of the organization.

Afterall, you have heard the saying, “What gets measured, gets done.” This begs the question, are you measuring the right things? Here are some things to consider in developing a fresh look at the performance plan template.

  1. Create a template that motivates the workforce
    • Conduct a confidential survey of the workforce that asks these questions: “To what extent does the performance plan document motivate your performance?” “How easy was it to find the information to create your plan and its updates?” “If you were to design the plan, what should be in it?”
    • Change the name of the document. The performance document normally has words like this in its title: “evaluation”, “assessment”, “performance”, “requirements”. Not very motivating. Consider: “Your personal plan to make the world a better place” (not-for-profit organization) or “Your personal plan to add value to the company” (for profit organization). Making this type of change sends a cultural message: your work matters!
  2. Streamline the template to include only the most important quantitative measures.
    • Financial measures and metrics that the staff member can control. What are the top three?
    • Goals or objectives from the strategic plan that the staff member is directly responsible for.
  3. Qualitative measures.
    • This is one area that often creates disagreement between the supervisor and supervisee for a simple reason: numerical rating of qualitative measures on any type of scale is impossible to defend. Using time management as an example: is someone a “10” or an “8”? It’s a can’t win discussion. The best rating system for qualitative measures are: “Meets Expectation”, “Needs Improvement” or “Doesn’t Meet Expectation”. This type of rating system allows for a constructive dialogue.
    • Determine what qualitative measures are the most important for your situation. Common ones include: time management, written communication, verbal communication, problem solving, self-management.
    • Focus areas are great ways to set priorities that don’t have a quantitative measure. Limit these to a few that are game-changing for the organization.
    • A narrative section for the staff member to comment on successes, challenges, innovations and items to discuss.
The bottom line is that the performance document can be a motivating factor in the success of the organization if it is structured appropriately. It can also serve as a tool to create a positive culture of achievement for the greater good. The first step is to review what you are using with a fresh perspective to determine if it is still relevant and producing the results you need. We are here to help with a complementary review of your performance document, just send Kathy Igou an email at to schedule a review.