How to ensure high-quality objectives and personal development plans
Objectives and Personal Development Plans (PDPs) are at the core of most organisations’ performance management systems. So here are 8 ways to encourage your employees to set and deliver high-quality objectives and PDPs.
1. Provide education
As HR professionals, we are generally experienced in writing objectives and preparing personal development plans. So it’s easy to forget that other people can struggle with this and may not even understand what objectives and PDPs are. So prepare a variety of learning materials and make them easily accessible to all staff. Videos work particularly well as they are more engaging than written documents or presentations. Our Clear Review performance management software incorporates short animated videos for employees on various performance-related subjects including writing objectives and PDPs. Here’s an example of our video on how to write SMART objectives.
2. Encourage employee ownership
We are more motivated to achieve goals that we have personally bought into, rather than those that have been forced upon us. So you will get better results by encouraging employees to draft their own objectives and PDPs, with managers validating and helping to hone them as necessary. Employees’ objectives should be aligned
3. Focus on delivery
Many performance management processes focus their attention on the setting of objectives and PDPs at the start of the cycle, and an assessment of their achievement at the end. However, this misses out the most crucial element – the actual delivery. So you need to ensure that you have processes and learning materials in place that encourage and support employees to continuously work on achieving their objectives and PDPs throughout the year. Research by Mind Gym has found that fortnightly, constructive feedback sessions are most effective in enabling goals to be delivered
4. Monitor quality
HR are commonly tasked with tracking the percentage of individuals who have set their objectives and had them signed-off. But this measure does not give an insight into the quality of objectives and PDPs set. Are they consistently stretching? Are they aligned to the overall goals of the organisation? It is important therefore to periodically analyse samples of objectives and PDPs from different parts of the organisation to monitor their quality.
5. Be flexible with objectives
What exactly is an objective? Some organisations view them as targets to be achieved, others view them as things to be delivered above and beyond the ‘day job’. The fact is that different job roles suit different types of objectives. If you try to be too rigid with what an objective should be, many employees will fail to see how objectives are relevant to their role. For example, target-driven objectives are more relevant to
- Targets – e.g. increase sales of x product by 10%
- Performance standards – e.g. all customer service emails will be responded to within 24 hours
- Specific projects or deliverables – e.g. train all members of the department in how to use the new purchase ordering software
6. Make objectives stretching
Research has found that when goals are stretching, they result in significantly higher performance than non-stretching goals. Of
7. Turn PDPs into objectives
We have seen numerous organisations where employees and managers pay lip service to personal development plans, focusing their attention instead on objectives. Yet research and thinking on performance management
8. Focus personal development on ‘needs’ rather than training
A criticism of traditional personal development plans is that they can end up becoming a training wish list. However, research from CEB has found that on-the-job learning is three times more impactful than formal training programs. To take
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- Week 1 – What is effective performance management?
- Week 2 – Define your organisation’s goals for performance management
- Week 3 – How to measure the effectiveness of performance management
- Week 4 – The 5 keys to successful performance management
- Week 5 – How to get buy-in to performance management
- Week 6 – How to ensure high quality objectives and personal development plans
- Week 7 – Avoiding the 4 pitfalls of performance appraisals
- Week 8 – Developing performance management skills in your employees
- Week 9 – How to launch a new or improved performance management process
- Week 10 – How to implement an online performance management system