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Employee Development Plans: Individual Performance Management

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Complexity is the new norm, and the path to success isn't always clear. Are you prepared to meet the challenges and become an adaptive leader? Discover the 5 key strategies that will empower you to rise to the challenge.

Individual Performance Management

Is it a realistic company goal to have employees in every position who fit your culture and perform up to expectations? If you can't confidently say "YES" to this question, it's time to reevaluate. Explore your enterprise performance management process further. Your business's future success hinges on the quality of the people you attract, develop, and keep. Specifically, when it comes to the expectations of individuals and the criteria you use to analyze employee productivity in your organization.


The future success and the bottom line of your business depends on the quality of your team members. It's crucial to attract, develop, retain and motivate employees. This article will cover evaluating employee performance and setting individual performance objectives. It will also discuss using talent mapping to plan for future leadership roles in your organization.

Individual Performance Criteria

Having a powerful people process in place is a way to accurately and thoroughly evaluate individuals. As a business, it creates a consistent framework to help you identify and develop talent. As time goes on, this will give you the understanding to grow your team, boost employee involvement, and develop future leaders.

Sean Fitzgerald explains Mastering Talent Mapping and Succession Planning

It’s important that employees strike a balance between meeting role expectations and embracing the culture and values of the organization. Core values are a culture’s DNA and act as the standards of behaviour for a company. It’s important that employees understand and embrace them. They define excellence and help mediate a path of action.

To evaluate this, we use a rating system to identify individuals as one of the following:

  • A-Player: Fits the culture and consistently delivers results as per their role scorecard.
  • B-Player: Fits the culture and is capable of reaching A-player levels of performance.
  • C-Player: Does not fit the culture and does not deliver consistent results.
  • Culture Killer: Does not fit the culture, but delivers results (which is why they are tolerated).

For your identified a-players, we take the evaluation one step further by assessing their employee development plans and promotional readiness. These categories include:

  • A1: Capable and desiring promotion within the next 12 months.
  • A2: Capable and desiring promotion within the next 12 to 24 months.
  • A3: Not capable or does not desire a management role. These are commonly individuals in subject-matter expert roles.

Having this in-depth insight into your team is a benefit of performance management for many reasons. Right away, team leadership gaps will be revealed, and you will be able to predict future people issues. It puts the emphasis on A-player development and creates a sense of urgency to address non-performers.

Top performers want to work with capable teammates on challenging and rewarding assignments. As Conor Neill says, to create a culture of A-players you have to have a standard of greatness. When you commit to evaluating employees on this criteria, it shows your team that you value high performers. It also shows that you know the importance of employee recognition and rewards.

It’s important to follow up your evaluation with training programs and other opportunities for your top performers. This way, you improve employee experience, increase productivity and encourage other employees to meet their role outcomes.

The Talent Mapping Process and Employee Self-assessment

By adding a longer-term horizon to your thinking, talent mapping is more strategic than the standard performance feedback process. This helps develop your leadership pipeline, improve employee engagement and performance, and challenges you to invest more time with A players.

Stage One: Leader Review

The first step is a leader review and evaluation, which involves two passes. Leaders conduct talent reviews of their team, focusing on employee performance benchmarks in these three key areas:

  1. Core Values.
  2. Role Scorecard Performance.
  3. Priorities (skills development, continuous improvement, strategic execution).

Pass one involves identifying A-players, B-players, C-players, culture killers, and open positions. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do they fit our culture?
  • Do they deliver results as per their role scorecard?
  • Are they new to the role?
  • Have their responsibilities and accountabilities changed significantly?
  • Would I enthusiastically re-hire?
  • Is this role critical to the organization?

The focus of pass two is identifying promotional readiness. This will help drive succession planning. Some questions to keep in mind:

  • What is their level of leadership competency and discipline?
  • How is the functionality of the team they currently lead?
  • Is it high-performing or requiring more development?
  • Do they have mobility or the ability to move?

Stage Two: Peer Review

A critical stage of the talent review process, peer review sessions ensure performance ratings are synchronized before any action is taken. Three key objectives you want to achieve here are:

  1. Gather additional performance feedback.
  2. Establish a ranking standard.
  3. Identify talent re-allocation or promotion options.

Stage Three: Talent Map Gap Analysis

Now it’s time to understand the gaps in your leadership pipeline. Do you have feeder roles identified? In every function, the head of that function should be able to identify specific positions that can act as feeder roles.

There is a significant opportunity for the development of experience and knowledge. High-potential talent will need this to take on senior roles in the future.

Stage Four: Talent Action Plan

“The ability to make good decisions regarding people represents one of the last reliable sources of competitive advantage, since very few organizations are very good at it”. - Peter Drucker

After reviewing your gaps and feeder roles, you should take the next step. It's time to pinpoint actions that will boost your team's overall performance.

  • How will you support A-players?
  • How will you coach & develop B-players?
  • Remove C-players and culture killers as soon as possible.
  • Begin recruiting for open positions.

If you don’t invest in your “A” players, someone else will. They need to know that you consider them top performers and value their contribution to the team. B-players need to know what they must do to become A-players.

Getting into the regular practice of documenting issues with C-players and culture killers is important. That way, they can either correct the behaviour or have a set time period to leave the organization.


Utilizing Individual Performance for Organizational Planning

When you are committed to performance evaluations on an individual level, there isn’t much room left for surprises. Role scorecards clearly define the expectations for A-player levels of performance. Constructive feedback is seen as objective, rather than emotional. This helps employees feel like they are a partner in their progress rather than simply a participant.

KPIs and the execution of priorities guide performance management, and employees are held accountable by their leaders and teammates. On top of that, core values are kept alive. This is essential for maintaining your workplace culture and boosting job satisfaction for individual employees.

When you’re ready to move on to the next step of cascading the process in the organization, consider if:

  • The current actions are so significant that a pause in implementation is appropriate.
  • It’s time for the next level of leadership to be engaged to learn and exploit this process.

As a leader, you owe it to your team to not settle for underperforming workers. You owe it to your organization to topgrade your talent. Aim to fill your team with as many top performers as possible.

The cost of poor performance has impacts that far exceed an individual level. Your business will plateau with mediocre results, and your team will experience organizational dysfunction. Perhaps the most damaging consequence is the potential to lose those key “A” players.

 Unleashing the Potential of Your Organization

Make sure you have the right people in the right seats. By doing so, you’re building a pipeline full of potential managers and leaders.

Are you ready to get serious about your organizational goals? If you’d like to learn more about how to build create a great vision, or other ways you can take the simpler path to creating a great business, connect with us or consider attending one of our upcoming leadership events.

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Tim O'Connor