Developing Your Performance Plan
A step-by-step process
In business or personal life everyone plans in some respect. The methods of planning are diverse
from a detailed annual plan with actions, deadlines and performance indicators to making use of a
things-to-do list. Planning is a very powerful and personal tool for individuals.
In Performance Management, the University has developed a planning framework to assist you and
your manager to work together to develop your goals and those of the University. Developing a
Performance Plan assists you to have clear direction and purpose, clarity of the expectations of your
role and a beneficial tool to maximise your performance management discussions with your manager.
This document will provide you with a simple step-by-step process to developing your plan. It will also
give you definitions and examples of the terminology used in Performance Management.
As a starting point you should be clear about the purpose of performance management. Performance
management provides guidelines and principles on managing performance; together with your
manager you can determine how these guidelines and principles can be applied successfully for you.
The University of South Australia has defined the concept of performance management in the
following statement: -
“Performance management recognises that the effective operation of the University depends on the
knowledge, skills and performance of its staff. It is about working in a way that will enable continuous
performance improvement in line with the University's direction, and will at the same time increase
staff innovation and job satisfaction.”
For each individual a performance plan is a means to guide your performance. It should be a clear
indication of your manager’s expectations, provide you with the basic requirements of your position
and detail the activities you will participate in to assist your professional development. Your plan will
also address training and development you may require in order to meet the expectations of your role.
Ideally you will have a current Position Description that will articulate the purpose of your position. If
your position description is quite old and your position duties have changed in any way you and your
manager should update it during or after creating your performance plan.
Planning and Review Cycle
Performance planning is top down (from the University’s strategic plan) and bottom up (from individual
performance). Your performance plan should represent your contribution to achieving the unit/ school/
research institute plans and therefore the goals of the University. This is demonstrated in the following
review, planning Divisional/Unit/School/Institute
for next cycle plans and objectives
University of SA
Individual roles & planning:
Management Scheme position descriptions, annual
feedback performance & development
and review action plans
Regular informal feedback
Performance and Development Plan Proformas
The University has developed standard proforma templates to assist you in developing your
performance plan. The proformas are provided as a guide only. Performance plans are designed to
suit the individual and therefore the proformas may need to be adapted to reflect your particular
The templates can be found http://www.newdev.unisa.edu.au/hrm/employment
Terminology Used in a Performance and Development Plan
There is key terminology used in the University’s Performance Management framework and
guidelines. Understanding the terminology and aspects of Performance Management will assist you
to get the most out of your plan and discussions with your manager.
Outcome – An outcome is what you will deliver in your position. Outcomes are the results you will
achieve and will be listed under one of your broad headings. For Example – “Providing quality advice
relevant to your customer” is an outcome that would fall under your “Customer Service” heading.
Objective – An objective is a specific task that will be completed within the performance management
review period (normally 6 to 12 months) that relates directly to each outcome. Many objectives will be
fairly broad and a more detailed action plan or implementation plan may also be used in addition to
your performance plan. You will create timelines for completion of each objective, if priorities change
and expectations shift, you and your manager should renegotiate your plan and create new and
reasonable timelines for achieving the objective. For example – For the outcome listed above for
“Customer Service” a specific objective/task may be to conduct a customer service survey to ensure
correct advice is given.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI) – A KPI is an agreed standard that performance is measured
against. It is how you measure your outcomes and objectives to an agreed standard. Measurements
may be quantitative or qualitative. Many objectives may not have quantitative data to measure the
performance and achievement. Qualitative measurements are as important to gauging performance
and achievements as quantitative, but are not as easily identifiable. Clear and open communication
with your direct supervisor should assist you to identify qualitative measures that are appropriate to
your position, such as positive feedback from clients. Your school/ unit/ research institute plan should
also contain KPIs; you may be able to use these measurements in your plan if appropriate.
Creating your Performance and Development Plan Step by Step
Step 1 List all the jobs and tasks that you perform in your role on a regular basis, no matter how
large or small. Don’t worry about grouping them together in similar categories at this
point. Taking note of tasks you perform over a one or two week period may help you with
Step 2 Group the items listed into broad categories/headings. The number of categories will be
dependant on your role.
Step 3 Examine each category/heading, “what do I need to deliver or achieve?” These
categories become your objectives. Under each objective list the activities you will need
to undertake to meet your objectives. Look at each objective and ask yourself “What
activities will I concentrate on during the period of the plan that will achieve the desired
outcome?” There may be a number of tasks and actions that will need to be undertaken
to achieve the outcome. Care should be taken when adding objectives that you only
include objectives that are realistically achievable. The objectives will be finalised and
agreed with your supervisor. Your supervisor will share their ideas regarding workplace
priorities and your plan will be finalised in line with them.
Step 4 Examine each objective and the activities that relate to it and ask yourself “How do I, or
my manager, know when the task is accomplished to a satisfactory level?” or “How can I
measure the quality and completion of the task and objective?” You may have a number
of measurement tools for each outcome and objectives. These measurement tools are
your key performance indicators (KPIs) for your performance plan.
Step 5 Once you have created your plan and discussed it with your manager. You should
concentrate on asking yourself “What training or experience do I need to meet my
performance targets?” and “What training, experience or development opportunities are
available to me to meet the future needs of the University and my career?” This forms the
basis of your development plan. Your manager can help you explore your development
needs and opportunities.
Step 6 Use and review your performance plan. Your plan should be a live document and change
if the need arises. If your position or role changes discuss it with your manager and make
the agreed changes to the plan. Formal reviews should occur every 3 months for
professional, security, grounds and Document Services staff and 6 months for academic
staff. Informal feedback should occur regularly in between the formal reviews.
Ideally you and your manager will create your plan together, however unless you are a new employee
you are likely to understand the requirements of your position well and should be able to create your
plan prior to your performance management discussion. The plan must be agreed between you and
your manager during the discussion with negotiations on workload and your development plan. Both
you and your manager should retain a copy of your plan.
Further information on Performance Management can be sourced from:
Your local HR Coordinator/Officer
Your manager or supervisor
Or at http://www.unisa.edu.au/hrm/
Information resources include
Performance Management Policy
Performance Management Guidelines
Performance Management Quick Guide
Performance Plan templates
Performance Management Check List