Growing performance, training and development

A performance, training and development policy helps employees to develop their skills and provides clear performance goals in a structured way. This also helps employers get the results they want.

Setting expectations and goals

A policy in this area should cover how and when expectations and goals for employees and their roles will be set and agreed.

Clear expectations and goals help employees understand what they’re required to do and when. Employees who know what’s expected of them are likely to perform better and contribute more effectively to the organisation’s goals.

Setting expectations and goals should happen in the first few weeks of an employee starting their job. There are different ways of doing this, for example, setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) objectives.

Expectations and goals are usually recorded in a performance agreement. The employee and employer discuss progress against them regularly and update them from time-to-time, for example, every year.

Training and development

The workplace policy should cover how employees’ skills and capabilities will be developed, for example, through apprenticeships, observing others, coaching or more formal learning like university courses. 

Training and development helps employees meet expectations and goals. It can promote a workplace environment where development is encouraged, which can help attract and retain employees.

Training and development requirements can be different for different roles. Employees will often need to develop some skills and knowledge to be able to meet the expectations of their role. 

For example:

  • an employee might start a job with little experience and learn everything on the job
  • an experienced employee might start a job but need to learn the organisation’s systems. 

The policy should also cover:

  • how employers and employees will identify and agree training courses and opportunities
  • any compulsory training employees are required to do
  • any certification or accreditation employees are required to get or maintain 
  • what training and development the employer will pay for, especially if the employee is required to maintain a professional body or trade registration
  • if study leave is paid or unpaid
  • any programmes or opportunities that might be available to employees to develop their skills, for example, job rotation, secondments and mentoring
  • if salary is linked to passing or completing training.

Employers also have duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 when deciding what information, training, instruction and/or supervision to provide. Conversations about development and training should be a part of regular conversations and performance reviews.

Providing information, training, instruction or supervision for workers –WorkSafe(external link)

Regular conversations

The policy should cover how often there will be regular conversations with employees to discuss how things are going, for example, every 2 or 3 weeks. It should include a requirement to keep written notes from regular conversations so there’s an ongoing record of what has been discussed.

Regular conversations are a way of reviewing progress against the expectations and goals that have been agreed, including training and development goals. They provide an opportunity to address issues early before they become problems. It’s important to have a process in place for regular and open communication. This helps make sure there are no surprises as time goes on. 

Managing performance issues

Performance reviews

A performance review is a formal assessment of how well an employee is meeting their expectations and goals.

The policy should cover whether, and how often, there will be performance reviews and if they are linked to salary or other rewards like bonuses or vouchers. Even if performance reviews are not linked to salary or other rewards, it’s important to have a clear process for assessing performance, and to have objective criteria in place which everyone understands.

The policy should include a requirement to document performance reviews so there’s a record of what has gone well and where there are opportunities for improvement or development.

Other things the policy should cover are listed below.

  • How employers and employees will prepare for a performance review. For example, in some workplaces, employees assess their own performance beforehand, or other people the employee works with might be asked to provide feedback. Good preparation by both the employer and employee helps make the review more meaningful and productive. 
  • Whether goals, expectations and training needs for the coming year will be discussed as part of the performance review or as part of next year’s goal setting.
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