Coaching performance improvement is an important part of leading a team. Underperformers can turn into star talent with some coaching and guidance. Creating a professional development plan that clearly states the milestones that must be obtained is a critical step in motivating positive performance.

Plan for Performance Improvement

State the Final Goal

Start by determining the final performance improvement goals. They could be to increase sales by a percentage, to improve production time by a certain amount, to improve the speed of a task, to increase skills and knowledge in a certain area or to improve relationships with certain people. Use the SMART goal setting process to articulate your goal statements.

State the Progress Goals to Milestones

Now set milestones over the next year (for example, at the end of each quarter) that will need to be accomplished to attain the final goal. This is a simple process if the final goal is a number (figure or percentage) as you can divide that final number by four, for the four quarters or twelve to create monthly progress goals. For final goals that are not numbers, you’ll need to brainstorm with the employee to figure out the steps to get to the final goal. Those steps then become the milestones along the way.


Determine the Resources and Training Needed

The next section of the plan is dedicated to determining the resources (support staff, equipment, software, etc.) and the training needed to reach the process goals and final goal. Resources may require a budget so it is imperative that you leave room for performance improvement initiatives when budget planning. When determining training needs, start with the obvious, for example, in-house training that is available or mentors that could coach the employee. Once the in-house options are exhausted, look to external sources of training such as your local college or university or outsourced training vendors.

Determine Incentives for Attaining Process and the Final Goal

Incentives can be a terrific way to reward the employee for their efforts, if and only if they meet their motivational needs. For example, giving a warehouseman a tie clip will be seen as a joke, not a reward for work well done. Take the time to think creatively and/or discuss with the employee to determine suitable incentives.

Record the Plan

Create a document with the following sections:

  1. Performance Improvement Timeline – a map of the final and process goals along a timeline
  2. Resources and Training
  3. Incentives