How to Build a Successful Performance Development Process

Bryan Adelson
November 2, 2022

Does your organization have a performance development process currently in place? Regardless of your answer, this blog will still speak to you. This blog will guide you through the performance development process helping you design each step to a successful process. If your organization has a process in place already, this blog will help you make adjustments to your current process by comparing it to our guidance provided below.

What is a Performance Development Process?

When hearing performance development process, the first thing that comes to mind is sitting with my manager in their office, and they are providing negative feedback and only focusing on how I can improve my performance. This approach isn’t an effective way to evaluate an employee’s performance. A performance development process should include positive feedback as well as guidance on how to improve and should include perspectives from the employee and the manager. Having a performance development process using the employee’s perspective allows the employee and their manager to have an open dialogue regarding the feedback, their performance, and goals. Our recommended development process includes multiple steps that end with creating action items with the employee to continue their growth and contribution to the organization.

Why is Establishing a Performance Development Process Important?

Why is a performance development process important to an organization? The most valuable and critical component of any organization is its employees. If the employees are successful in their roles, then the company is successful as well. A performance development process helps employees understand what is working in their ongoing performance and where they need to improve. In addition, a performance development process helps the employee grow within their role and work toward achieving their long-term career goals.

How to Build a Performance Development Process 

The structure of your performance development process is the most important. The performance development process consists of 5 steps, discussed in detail below. It is important that both the team members and managers are all on board with the process, as its success relies equally on the employee and the manager.   

Step 1: Performance Review 

Create the performance review. HR creates a company-wide performance development template to be used by everyone in the organization. The structure of the template should include sections where employees are able to highlight their professional achievements, how they live out the company’s core values, potential performance improvements, and how they achieved their goals over the last period. You also provide space for employees to define their goals for the next period, a section for the employee to provide feedback for their manager, and a section for the manager to provide a summary of feedback.   

The HR team creates a timeline for the entire performance development process. The timeline outlines completion dates for employees and managers. The manager ultimately reviews the template and prepares for conversation with their employee. The employee leads the conversation and engages in an open dialogue with their manager. This is the time when the employee can elaborate on what they wrote.

Step 2: Discuss Successes and Opportunities 

Now it is time for the manager and employee to talk about the successes and opportunities of the review period (often annually, but we recommend quarterly). When the employee and manager are discussing these sections, the goal is never to surprise the employee with negative feedback. The goal of the discussion is to talk about the successes and opportunities from the employee’s perspective. However, it is okay for the manager to provide some details and feedback, but it shouldn’t be performance feedback the employee hasn’t heard before.   

As the manager reviews this section with the employee, they are there to respond to the employee and provide guidance to help improve their performance.   

Step 3: Create Actionable Goals 

The end goal of the performance development process is to help the employees grow. The employee communicates their goals for the next review period with their manager. The goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) and they help the employee grow and contribute to the company’s success. These goals can be company-facing goals, personal/professional goals, or client-specific goals. The manager provides feedback on employee goals and identifies support they can provide to ensure they are achieved.  

Step 4: Review the Process

Finally, at the end of the performance development discussion, the manager completes a final review with the employee and summarizes their notes to share with the employee. Once the manager’s notes are complete, they send the completed document back to the employee, who can begin working on their goals! 

Step 5: Follow-up on Progress

Step 5 is a vital part of the performance review process. Schedule these follow-ups based on what works best for each employee, depending on their preferred communication style and need for structured follow-up. For organizations that only conduct annual performance reviews,  it would not be beneficial to only follow up once a year on progress. Following up can be done monthly, quarterly, or weekly. Remember, these follow-ups are to ensure the manager and company are setting their employees up for success and have the tools and resources to be successful.  

Need Assistance Creating a Performance Development Process? 

Does this performance development process sound like it could help you and your organization continue its success? If yes, then the team at Red Clover is here to help! Our dedicated consultants will work with you to understand your business and guide you through the steps in developing an effective performance review process tailor-made to fit the needs of your organization. Contact us today to discuss how we can enhance your performance management process further!

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Architects and Engineers

We were referred to a successful values-driven architecture firm approaching a 50 person headcount with HR needs. As they approached that employment milestone, they needed to ensure they had the HR structure to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations and were set up for successful growth. We worked to help put the right policies and processes in place to support the scalability of their organization.

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