Performance Management

Development planning with individual employees


Development plans and the resulting training time and expenditure all need to be appropriately focused on the staff member's job. Training and development needs can be easily prioritised by considering the performance and achievement of the staff member in comparison with the capabilities required at the relevant job level.


Use the Workforce Capability Framework as the foundation for effective development planning to ensure that training investment is focused on the capabilities required at the relevant job level for the role.

Remember that development planning will generally have a short-term focus of between three and six months. The focus is on ensuring that the staff member has the skills and abilities to meet the performance expectations of their job level, as set out in the Workforce Capability Framework.

For example, a staff member undertaking a role graded at level 4 in the direct service delivery job family should have their development plan based on the capability requirements for this level, along with performance measures that are also consistent with the capabilities for a level 4.

Think of the development plan as a resource documenting agreed ways of closing a staff member's skill gap and enhancing existing skills and strengths. The plan is built up through regular assessment of their capabilities against the relevant job level and role family in the Workforce Capability Framework. This is a positive context where the staff member can engage in the process.

Ideally prepare a development plan for the staff member following a review of their performance in the role. This may be a formal annual review, or at the very least a milestone review of performance against the capabilities required in the role and the performance measures agreed with them previously.

Remember that learning and development spans a wide range of activities, including on-the-job training, mentoring, buddying, assignment to special projects, responding to customer feedback, attendance at short training courses, conferences or seminars, self-education, further formal study, etc.

Finalise the agreed development plan, taking into account any organisational policy requirements. Generally a development plan will outline the activities to be undertaken, timeframes, budget and/or time allocation, respective responsibilities for manager or supervisor and the staff member, and any further action needed.

Assess a range of ideas and activities to address identified development needs, where possible not only against the capability requirements but also against the performance measures for the job level in the position description.

Performance measures provide more context for the manager or supervisor and staff member.

For example, for a level 3 role, the staff member's risk assessment capabilities may need improvement. This might be due to something arising in their work area, and because, under the level 3 strategic core requirement of innovation in the Workforce Capability Framework, one of the capabilities required is to be 'able to address and mitigate risk in own work'.

Does this mean sending the staff member on a risk assessment training course?

The framework sets out the required capability, but may not offer immediate or preferred ideas for the manager or supervisor and staff member when it comes to practical and appropriate development activities.

The performance measures in this capability area (normally included in the position description) might have been developed along the lines of 'identifies risks and possible solutions for immediate work problems; corrects problems and escalates more complex problems to team leader.'

These performance measures give a clearer indication of how to progress the discussion.

  • What are the immediate work problems that might arise?
  • What sort of risks might arise?
  • What sort of corrective action would be expected from the staff member?
  • Does this require knowledge or experience that can be provided through development activity?
  • What sort of development activity is most likely to achieve the learning required?
  • Can the staff member be provided with a more experienced buddy to consult for advice when issues arise on the job?

If the position descriptions don't yet include statements of the capability requirements for the role, and/or performance measures have not been developed, it is still practical to use the relevant job level and job family from the Workforce Capability Framework as guidance. It is not necessary to have a position description to undertake development planning using the framework.

For a manager or supervisor and the staff member considering an idea for a development activity, discuss how the activity will contribute to the capabilities required on the job.

  • Has the customer had some relevant input?
  • What impact will the activity have on the capabilities presently being demonstrated?
  • How will the activity and improved capability align with what is known about customer requirements?
  • Discuss how the improved capability will be recognised or assessed.
  • What evidence will there be that the development activity has led to increased capability and performance being demonstrated on the job?

For example, a staff member is continually asking their supervisor what they need to do next in their role, so they have been 'buddied up' with a more experienced colleague to provide development in how to 'organise their own workload with minimal supervision'.

The required capability to 'organise their own workload with minimal supervision' is consistent with the strategic core requirement capability area of leadership/teamwork for level 3.

One option could be for the buddy to assist the staff member in this area for a week. After this or another appropriate period of support, the staff member would take their own steps to organise their workload and only seek feedback or suggestions from the buddy as required.

Once the staff member and buddy are satisfied that they will be less dependent on the supervisor, the staff member can be observed in the role on one or more occasions to check whether the required capability has been met.

Use the 'what's working /not working' tool to support the staff member to reflect on their work and to gain feedback from others, including from customers. This should aid in highlighting areas for further development. This tool can also be used to reflect on what's working and not working with the staff member's performance in specific areas. This might also be in response to or in conjunction with input from customers.

If it is difficult to establish a clear link between a proposed development activity and the capability requirements at the employee's job level, consider a more relevant learning and development activity. An activity may still be pursued in the staff member's own time or at a later date, or may be modified to more closely align with the capability development required and performance measures in place.

Many organisations support a mix of work and personal time for a staff member to engage in development activities, and policy statements are often in place to guide decision-making.

Ensuring that proposed development activities have been prioritised and aligned with the capabilities required in a staff member's role is a good way of supporting decision-making about the level of organisational support for an activity and any agreement on the availability of work time to pursue it.

Avoid conversations about development that are vague or generalised and not focused on the job requirements of the staff member. The conversation can quickly lead to broad commitments to training, external courses or other development activities that are difficult to deliver on and/or may involve time and money being spent with little assessment of any resulting improvements in job performance.

From time to time, it will be appropriate for a manager or supervisor to consider or advise on a staff member's longer-term career development goals. Use the Workforce Capability Framework as a resource for a manager or supervisor or other mentor to have a focused discussion with the staff member about their career goals and progression. The framework enables managers and mentors to focus on the requirements of defined higher job levels, and provide objective feedback and advice. The staff member benefits from clearer discussions rather than relying on just anecdotal evidence and experience.

Encourage a staff member to use the Workforce Capability Framework and the Disability Career Planner to support their own career planning. The framework can be used as a checklist to assess the capability areas where they may need more development before they can compete successfully for higher career levels. The staff member can ask their manager or supervisor, or a mentor or colleague, to help objectively assess where they are at and where they can direct their learning.

Additional resources:

  • The Workforce Capability Framework
  • The disability career planner and capability framework implementation guide
  • The Disability Career Planner
  • Technique - using 'what's working/not working' in performance planning, support and supervision
  • Template - performance appraisal
  • Technique, tips and template - writing position descriptions


The term individual(s) refers to an individual with a disability and their family and/or circle of support.

The terms staff/employee(s) refer to paid or unpaid members of the workforce regardless of their employment relationship with their employer i.e. permanent, casual, full-time, volunteer, etc.

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