Performance development plans (PDPs)

For employees to succeed, they need to know what success looks like and receive regular coaching and feedback on their progress. The Performance and Development Plan (PDP) is a tool for facilitating communication between a supervisor and an employee about:

  • The linkage between the employee's expected results and the organization's goals and performance measures.
  • The employee's standards and expectations.
  • The organization's commitments for training and development.
  • The employee's progress, accomplishments, and needs for growth.

The PDP is designed to facilitate both performance planning and feedback for a specific performance period. Each new employee should have a performance plan when he or she begins.

WAC 357-37-040 states that employers must use standardized PDP forms or alternate forms approved by the Assistant Director for State Human Resources. Please contact the State HR division of OFM at for more information about approval of alternate PDP forms.

Individual development plans (IDPs)

Research suggests that high-quality individual development plans can increase an employee’s potential for promotion by up to 38%. The IDP is usually included in the Training and Development Section (Part 2) of the Performance and Development Plan

Strategies for success

  • Connect training to business goals. Ensure that all learning activities contribute to achieving business goals. Supervisors should help employees understand the business plan and deliverables, and how their work impacts organizational performance.
  • Focus on a few key development areas. Select two or three areas of knowledge and skill the employee should concentrate on building.
  • Focus on both the current job and career development. Develop knowledge and skills that are relevant to current job requirements, anticipated future assignments, and possible promotions. If a succession program exists, integrate related training and competency development with those of the program.
  • Include a variety of development opportunities. Both training and experiential learning should be included on the IDP. Use a mix of formal classroom training, job shadowing, mentoring, e-learning, assignment to a project team, cross-training, temporary supervisory assignments, and rotational assignments.
  • Develop the IDP in collaboration with the employee. Employees should have a vested interest in their own development. They also have unique insights into their personal developmental needs and career aspirations.

Using measures in performance plans

Identifying the key results expected is the first step in developing an employee’s performance plan. Integrating measurable targets into those results:

  • Shows employees the specific thresholds for meeting expectations.
  • Explains how outstanding performance differs from just meeting expectations.
  • Opens a dialogue between the employee and supervisor on how expectations will be met, and what resources will be required.

Strategies for success

  • Measure outcomes rather than outputs. Supervisors often struggle with getting to results because outputs are easier to define than the actual outcomes they produce. Consider using the “so that” method:
    • “Complete at least 10 inspections per month, arranging for the correction of 97% of identified hazards within 14 days...” so that “the safety program achieves at least 11,500 inspections, and corrects at least 7,300 serious hazards...” so that “Washington is ranked as one of the top five safest places to work.”

  • Identify up front how to best measure results. Will performance be measured through personal observation, customer feedback, peer review, or something else? Knowing the method helps to create meaningful, measurable targets. 
  • Use customer feedback ratings. For positions that serve customers, consider using formal and informal survey processes to gather customer feedback. Set rating targets for areas such as availability, accuracy, and responsiveness.
Last updated
Tuesday, May 2, 2023
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