3 Reasons Why You Should Look at Your Performance Plan Differently


My first year as a federal government employee, I quickly learned that my performance plan would shape my understanding of my role and would help me navigate the efforts I would take on that year. I worked with my then-supervisor to exact each performance goal and sub-task. Where my position description was broad and ambiguous, my performance plan was specific and focused.

That first year, I even printed it out and kept it in a drawer to peak at every so often to see if I was taking on projects consistent with the goals I had set out for. It ultimately served as the blueprint for much of the work I carried out that year and evolved into the plan I work off of today.

While performance planning is a standard corporate employee practice, it is especially important in the public sector to drive progress and accountability. Obviously, one should always take performance planning seriously but let’s face it, it becomes another annualized routine requirement. Below are three reasons to reconsider this notion and see what other benefits federal performance planning yields:

1. It Aligns Your Work to Your Mission

One area in federal performance plans is to tie your performance goals with that of your organization’s strategic goals. This section is often an overlooked area of a given individual’s plan, but it is imperative to the work that you perform. The employee is the most important asset to an organization and understanding how your work contributes to the furtherance of your mission is important and should not be minimized. This area of your performance plan is also critical in that it begs the question: do all of your performance goals and associated tasks line up with your mission? If not, you may be treading into mission or position creep.

2. It Will Help You Avoid “Aimlessly Wandering” in Your Job

Bill Copeland said it best “The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” Now visually associate that quote with a soccer field or football field. Without having goals for that year, you are metaphorically carrying out work (perhaps aimlessly) each day without knowing what contributions you are making to move the needle. At a very fundamental level, your performance plan simply helps you to plan. This allows you to develop a comprehensive strategy for the year ahead and will serve as a guiding document to monitor progress. Each time I review my performance plan on my own, I review for progress and if I am not on that path it is clear to me that I need a course correction.

3. It Sets Expectations Between You and Your Supervisor

There are opportunities for discussions with your supervisor to set expectations. Performance planning inherently creates this opportunity for you and your supervisor to discuss expectations regarding what you and your supervisor both expect out of your position. It also creates an opportunity during performance reviews to gauge whether those expectations are unreasonable due to circumstances out of your control. Nevertheless, this discussion prompts a healthy conversation about workload or resources needed to achieve goals or whether to modify tasks altogether.

Brigitte Mardigras is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). The views expressed by this author are her own and do not represent the views of the Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Government. You can also find Brigitte on Twitter at @brigitttem. To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here

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