Performance management framework

  1. Introduction
  2. Stage 1: Performance objective setting meeting
  3. Stage 2: Interim performance reviews
  4. Stage 3: End of year performance review meeting and assessment
  5. Performance management framework: forms


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1.1 The council has a new Corporate Plan to 2019 that sets out three priorities focussed on place, people and pounds. Each priority is underpinned by a set of ambitions that in turn are supported by key workstreams to deliver them. The plan also includes a new set of values that have become known as "Carvac" for short that set out the way that we as officers behave as we work to deliver our priorities.

1.2 The way we develop our service plans and set individual performance objectives to achieve our service outcomes and hence priorities is well established at Wycombe District Council. This "golden thread" approach is as follows:

Our priorities

People: cohesive communities

Place: regeneration and infrastructure

Pounds: value for money services

Our service plans

Projects and day-to-day activities

Your performance objectives

Our values

  • Collaboration: we work together as one council team
  • Accountability: we take ownerhsip oand repsonisibility
  • Respect: we value other and treat them with respect
  • Value for money: we use our resources effectivley and responsibly
  • Adaptability: we are flexible in how we deliver services
  • Challenge: we challenge ourselves and find better ways of doing things

1.3 Our performance management framework (PMF) has been updated to incorporate our values and behaviours: it is not just what we do, but how we do it. It makes the link in a practical way between individual performance and the achievement of the council’s priorities as set out in the Corporate Plan. The details of which are found in your service plan.

1.4 Performance management provides a common and flexible framework for:

  • agreeing individual performance objectives that include expected standards of performance and behaviour
  • reviewing, assessing and managing performance and behaviour
  • identifying and meeting development needs
  • incremental salary progression linked to job performance 

1.5 The PMF aims to:

  • provide opportunities for staff development and encourage personal development
  • reward fairly and motivate people to achieve high performance
  • encourage everyone to develop and improve to reach their full potential
  • be transparent, consistent and be streamlined to administer
  • assist the council to achieve its strategic and service objectives

1.6 Key features of the PMF

Covers all employees.

Performance objectives have both a task (what) and behavioural (how) element and for managers the behaviours of the successful Wycombe manager should be incorporated into objectives (refer to appendix 5).

Employees will normally have a total of six performance objectives. In certain circumstances, such as when an employee has a narrow range of duties, for example, the number of performance objectives can be reduced.

Chief Executive, Corporate Director, and heads of service will have a total of ten performance objectives.

There are no generic objectives for employees, however, managers are expected to have at least one of their performance objectives around performance, finance and/or people management.

The assessment scheme is based on five assessment levels, that is:

    • (5) outstanding,
    • (4) exceeding
    • (3) successful
    • (2) partially achieved/working towards
    • (1) unsatisfactory

Employees are formally assessed against overall performance not against individual performance objectives.

There are four formal stages in the performance management framework. 

Note: Alongside the formal performance assessment, staff are entitled to regular one-to-ones with their supervisor/line manager.

Summaries of stages

Stage 1: performance objective setting

Service plans for April are developed in the prior autumn. Heads of service/service managers/team leaders will involve staff in developing the outcomes within the service plan so they are aware of the areas of focus for their team in the year ahead

Individual employee performance objectives are therefore based on what is in your service plan but will have more detail about the “how” as well as the “what”

A supporting PDP is developed at the same time as your personal objectives to identify both training / support needed to deliver your objectives, as well as assist with the achievement of longer term career aspirations

  • Performance objective setting meetings are usually undertaken in the April and May of each year

Interim performance reviews

Meeting to review an employee’s actual performance against objectives set at the start of the financial year, and agree any adjustments that need to be made, as appropriate (both complete IPR forms)

Review the PDP and identify any additional training needs

Opportunity to capture any other service lessons that can be fed into the development of the next year’s service plan

  • Interim Performance Reviews are undertaken in the September and October of each year.

Performance review meeting/manager assessments

Meeting for employee and manager to review the level of employee performance against their performance objectives at the end of the year (both complete PR forms)

Manager makes a final assessment after the meeting and any recommendations for incremental progression in line with the scheme

  • Performance review meetings are undertaken in the February of each year and performance assessments in early March.
  • Note: A timetable for assessments will be agreed and issued each year.

Performance feedback

Providing performance assessment feedback to the employee (i.e. to advise employee of the assessment level)

  • Feedback to be provided by the end of March
  • Appeals against performance assessments can be made on technical points (for example, incorrect information has been used or all relevant information has not been taken into account when making the assessment).
  • Appeals need to be made in writing to the Head of HR, ICT and SSS by 30 April.


1.7  Managers have the responsibility for managing and reviewing performance using the PMF.

Reviewing employee performance is a continuous process and should typically include three elements:

Regular team meetings where managers discuss current work and development with team members. This offers feedback to recognise achievement and to encourage progress and identify possible problems.

One to one meetings where employees meet with their line managers, at least on a monthly basis, to discuss progress against their performance objectives and personal development plan.  This is an opportunity for the line manager to celebrate achievements and offer constructive feedback where more needs to be done (refer to Appendix 1).

Formal performance review process (as detailed in …).

Staff have responsibility to engage with and participate in the process. To this end employees complete the employee preparation form (see section 2 for further information and section 5 for the form).

Stage 1: Performance objective setting meeting

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2.1 The PMF operates in line with the financial year, that is from April to March.

2.2 The performance objective setting meeting is a formal meeting between the manager and employee and is undertaken between April and May of each year.

2.3 In preparation for this meeting, employees complete the “Preparation for objective setting’ form and return it to their manager ideally five days before the objective setting meeting.

2.4 The aims of the performance objective setting meeting are to discuss and agree:

  • performance objectives for the coming financial year
  • the way in which employees work towards their objectives/behaviours.
  • performance targets for each objective and how they will be measured
  • a personal development plan (PDP), identifying any training and development activity to assist with achieving both the performance objectives for the coming year and  career development aspirations

2.5 If agreement cannot be reached in setting performance objectives, assistance should be sought from a senior manager.  This assistance should be sought by the manager. The senior manager is responsible for setting the performance objectives and targets having discussed the issues with the officer and manager. Assistance with this is available from Human Resources.

Performance objectives

2.6 Performance objectives are likely to be based on or feature priority areas of work for an individual which will be identified through:

  • the council’s strategic priorities and Corporate Plan
  • service plans (setting out projects/routine tasks and operational day to day activities)
  • council’s values and behaviours
  • changes to legislation, regulations and best practice (as defined in the service plan)

Both outputs and behaviour are important.

2.7 It is expected that employees, including team leaders, will normally be set a total of 6 performance objectives. The Chief Executive, Corporate Director and heads of service will be set a total of ten performance objectives.

Varying the number of performance objectives

2.8 As appropriate, the total number of performance objectives can be varied (and reduced).

2.9 For example, a part-time employee undertaking a narrower range of duties than their full-time counter-part may agree to reduce the total number of job objectives.

2.10 However, where the part-time employee is undertaking a full range of duties, the performance target may need to be adjusted to reflect reduced working hours rather than the number of performance objectives.

2.11 Similarly, a manager may agree with a team member to reduce the number of job objectives where a job role is very narrow/specific.

Setting “Smart” performance objectives

2.12 Importantly, performance objectives should be clear and stretching in order to ensure that performance levels are well defined and appropriately rewarded when achieved.

2.13 In setting objectives managers need to think about the following:

  • what are the team/service objectives for the following year (as set out in the service plan)?
  • what does the team/service need the employee to do to help you achieve these objectives?
  • how does the member of staff need to behave to achieve these objectives? (refer to the council’s values and associated behaviours)

2.14 Having identified what needs to be achieved then objectives need to be developed using the “Smart” criteria (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time relevant).

2.15 Performance objectives and targets should be:


Concentrate on specific outcomes from the service plan: both the employee and the manager need to be clear what is to be achieved.


What are you being asked to deliver? The performance outcome needs to be measurable. A combination of quantitative and qualitative measures can be used for each performance objective. This will assist in clarifying a shared understanding of what is to be achieved and in making the performance review process transparent.


Effective performance objectives aim at continuous improvement and will be challenging and stretching. However, they should also be realistic and commensurate with the jobholder’s role.


Performance objectives should be consistent with the council’s priorities in the Corporate Plan and priorities, the service plan, function and within the scope and level of the job.

Time relevant

Performance objectives should have clear deadlines and timescales to enable progress and results to be reviewed on a regular basis.

2.16 Remember:

  • focus on what you need the individual to achieve; avoid writing objectives that just describe what someone is going to do but think about the outcomes and behaviours required
  • keep objectives under review throughout the year
  • objectives should reflect the level and range of responsibilities that the individual has
  • objectives should be challenging and aim to achieve positive outcomes; avoid setting too difficult or too easy objectives as both can be de-motivating
  • a useful objective is one that describes to you, the employee or anyone else, what is expected of them

Additional guidance about the setting of objectives and outcomes/measures of success can be found in Appendix 2

Training and development: the personal development plan

2.17 The council is committed to providing training and development to support employees to:

  • achieve performance objectives
  • perform at the highest level possible
  • develop, improve and reach their full potential
  • ensure continued professional and career development
    • every individual is responsible for their own training and development
    • ensuring that development needs are identified and met is a joint responsibility between manager and officer

2.18 A personal development plan is agreed at the same time as the performance objective setting meeting, the purpose of which is to:

  • identify training and development activities to support the achievement of agreed performance objectives
  • support the development (and continued development) of skills, competencies and behaviours required to undertake the job
  • support career development, as appropriate

2.19 For managers and employees to identify appropriate training and development activities, consideration will need to be given to:

The skills, knowledge, competencies that are to be developed to enable the achievement of the performance objective or career development.  For managers, the behaviours required of the “successful Wycombe manager” will be used.

The most appropriate way to meet the identified need. This could be pursuit of a formal qualification, an NVQ, an internal training course, on-the-job training, mentoring, work shadowing or work experience (assisting with a project or through secondment). See a list of the range of development tools currently available in Appendix 3.

The resources (both service and individual) required to support the training activity.

2.20 Training and development activity should be realistic in terms of the resources available to the service and individual.

2.21 Equally, the support available will rely on the relevance (to the council, service and individual) of the training and development activity to the achievement of performance objectives and career development.

2.22 Training and development activity should be regularly reviewed, during performance review and interim performance review meetings and regular one-to-one meetings between manager and officer.

2.23 See Training and development directory for a list of training and development programmes.

2.24 Further advice can be sought from Human Resources to assist in the sourcing of appropriate development solutions.

Stage 2: Interim performance reviews

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3.1 Interim performance reviews (IPR) take place between September and October each year (halfway through the financial year) and involve a meeting between an employee and their manager.

3.2 IPRs provide a valuable opportunity for an individual and manager to discuss the progress made in achieving performance objectives and targets and to review progress against the PDP. Training and development activity can be reviewed and discussed, and further training needs identified, as appropriate.

3.3 Equally, the IPR is an opportunity to ensure that key performance objectives and targets are still relevant and achievable. The PMF is designed to be flexible. Managers can change and/or amend key performance objectives and  targets, in consultation and agreement with the individual, to take account of changing circumstances and priorities.

3.4 If circumstances or priorities have changed, it is essential that managers review the performance objectives and targets to ensure that they remain specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and targeted.

3.5 Managers and officers are to complete the Stage 2 - IPR form separately and exchange them with one another in advance of the scheduled IPR meeting (ideally five working days before the meeting).

Stage 3: End of year performance review meeting and assessment

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4.1 In February of each year line managers will undertake a performance review and assessment with their team members of their performance against their performance objectives and make a recommendation for incremental progression (in line with the scheme and as appropriate).

4.2 The aim of the end of year performance review meeting is to encourage a quality discussion based on evidence of past performance, review achievement of performance against last year’s performance objectives, and review training and development activities undertaken.

4.3 In preparation for this meeting, both manager and employee complete the performance achieved column of the stage 3 performance review/assessment form providing relevant evidence where applicable and share this with each other up to five days before the meeting.

4.4 At the meeting, the employee should begin by giving their thoughts on their achievements against each of the performance objectives and for the manager to provide their views.

4.5 The discussion should include a review of the development that has been provided and how this has contributed to the achievement of the objectives and whether any gaps remain.

4.6 Following the meeting, it is for the manager to decide an overall performance rating having considered all aspects of the performance, that is taking account of the performance targets and measures of success as well as progress on the specific objective. Details of overall achievements and special circumstances not foreseen which might have a significant positive or negative impact on achievement should be recorded (see sections 4.10 to 4.14 for further guidance about assessing performance)

4.7 The manager’s line manager is also responsible as part of this process to act as moderator and when signing off their team’s performance reviews will be looking for consistency in the quality of input into the process and that staff have been treated consistently and fairly in relation to comments, rating and workload expectations.

4.8 The manager will also share all their performance assessments with their head of service prior to confirming the results to the individual and submitting to HR.

4.9 There is a separate appeal process if the employee is dissatisfied with the outcome of the performance review process: see sections 4.24 to 4.26.

Assessing performance

4.10 Following the end of year performance review meeting with the employee the manager will complete the Stage 3 - performance assessment form detailing the performance achieved against each of the objectives. The manager will then use the descriptor table on page 12 to determine the overall performance rating against the five performance assessment levels:

  • Level 5: outstanding
  • Level 4: exceeding
  • Level 3 successful
  • Level 2 partially achieved/working towards
  • Level 1 unsatisfactory

Note: It is not expected as part of this process to assign a rating to each performance objective, the focus is on deciding on overall performance level.

4.11 It is important to remember that there is no set formula for how the ratings are calculated and the descriptions below are by their nature generic and for guidance only. However, the table on the page that follows sets out (and allows for us to describe) what the attributes of the five performance levels include. The manager must use their judgement of how the team member has performed considering outcomes against the key performance objectives and any supporting evidence gathered, the context within which they are operating, the complexity of the situation and the individual’s personal impact, to decide on a rating.

4.12 In making judgements about what rating to give, managers may also wish to refer to the example outcomes/measures of success against the different levels set out in paragraph 4.14. Managers could also look at their teams and consider who stands out in terms of their impact within the team and outside of the team; positive and negative. What are they doing that makes the difference compared to their peers? Where is the evidence to support this? This will generate examples of performance that go beyond or fall short of the objectives set and behaviours expected.

Five performance assessment levels
Level  Description of the attributes of each level: the ‘what’ and the ‘how’

(5) Outstanding

Consistently achieves results which far exceed/surpass proficiency level in terms of the majority of performance objectives.

Is an outstanding exemplar, consistently role modelling the council’s behaviours in both daily work and interactions with colleagues and customers, and especially in response to challenging and adverse situations and inspires others in the way they deliver a particular objective.

May have an impact outside their own area i.e. another service or externally.

(4) Exceeding

Exceeds expectations against the majority of their performance objectives that significantly impact on the service provided.

Consistently demonstrates the council’s values and behaviours above the requirements of the role and is aware how they apply.

(3) Successful


Performance is consistent and reliable, fully meeting the expectations of the role.

Has performed well against the majority of performance objectives set and has occasionally exceeded what is expected.

Consistently demonstrates the council’s values and sometimes exceeds the behaviours required and is aware how they apply.

(2) Partially achieved/working towards

Performance is not consistent and does not fully meet expected standards.  Improvement is necessary.

Achieved some, but not all objectives, or met expectations in a limited way.

Where development goals have been set, some progress has been made towards achieving these.

Shows a lack of consistency in demonstrating some of the behaviours but demonstrates a capacity and/or willingness to improve. 

(1) Unsatisfactory

Performance fell considerably short of what is expected.  Under achieved on majority of performance objectives.  Improvement is necessary.

The employee consistently fails to meet the required standards in an area or number of work areas where this has a direct impact on the acceptable performance of their job.

Rarely demonstrates the values and behaviours in daily work and interaction with colleagues and customers at the level expected for the role.  Appears unwilling or unable to address the issues.

Stage 4: assessment feedback meeting

4.13 The manager will feedback the overall performance assessment to their team members at a separate meeting which could be part of a normal scheduled one-to-one.

4.14 Example outcomes/measures of success could include:

Example outcomes/measures of success
Outstanding ExceedingSuccessful Working towardsUnsatisfactory

Quality, accuracy and presentation of work is exemplary

Quality, accuracy and presentation of work is excellent

Quality, accuracy and presentation of work is good

Quality, accuracy and presentation of work is not consistent with some inaccuracies and mistakes

Quality, accuracy and presentation of work is poor with many inaccuracies and mistakes

Plans and prioritises and takes personal responsibility to achieve objective significantly beyond what would be expected in their role.

Plans and prioritises and takes personal responsibility to achieve objective beyond what would be expected in their role.

Plans and prioritises work to achieve performance objective.

Requires support in planning, prioritising and carrying out  objective

Fails to plan and prioritise work and so does not achieve objective.

Service to customers is exemplary (internal and external) exceeding service requirements and deadlines. Receives compliments/recognition from staff and customers

Service to customers is excellent meeting service requirements and deadlines

Service to customers is good meeting service requirements and deadlines

Service to customers is inconsistent and sometimes misses service delivery requirements and deadlines

Service to customers is poor and does not  meet service requirements and deadlines

Views of colleagues and customers are actively sought and incorporated into work. Shows emotional intelligence and empathy in transactions with others. Looks outside the organisation for best practice,  networking etc.

Views of colleagues and customers are actively sought and incorporated into work. Shows emotional intelligence and empathy in transactions with others.


Listens to and involves customers and colleagues in their work. Respectful to others.

Doesn’t always listen to customers or colleagues or involve then in decisions/keep them informed. Not always respectful to others.

Fails to listen to or involve customer or colleagues or keep them informed. Does not show respect to others.

Achieves cost savings over and above what was originally accounted for 

Saves time, money and resources when delivering objectives.

Makes efficient use of time, money and technology. Delivers on time and on budget.

Does not always make efficient use of time, money and resources.

Wastes time, money and resources

Can do attitude in delivering objective. Flexible and adaptable. Pioneering approach to achieving objective.

Tailors approach to specific situations, embraces new ideas and ways of working

Adapts approach to circumstances, open to new ideas, works flexibly

Not always flexible or open to new ideas

Inflexible approach, Resistant to new ideas and ways of working.

Constantly challenges themselves and others to learn new things and find better ways of doing things. Aware of own strengths and weaknesses and takes responsibility for improvement.

Reviews and reflects on achievement and considers how things can be improved in the future. Demonstrates strong commitment to personal development

Acts on feedback, learns from experiences and makes improvements. Demonstrates commitment to personal development.

Does not always act on feedback or show interest in improving things in the future or self-development.

Doesn’t listen to feedback, repeats same mistakes, shows no interest in improving things for the future or self-development.

Incremental progression

4.15 An overall assessment rating of successful (level 3) will be required for incremental progression.

4.16 An overall assessment of unsatisfactory (level 1) or partially achieved (level 2) will result in incremental progression being withheld and specific objectives should be set identifying actions to improve performance. If the objectives to improve performance are not met and performance remains at this level, normally, this would trigger the capability process to focus efforts to ensure improved performance.

4.17 Incremental progression occurs on 1 April.

New staff/those receiving incremental progression 1 January to 31 March

4.18 Subject to the requirements of the performance management scheme and grade structure, incremental progression occurs 1 April except in the following cases:

Staff newly appointed to the council and whose start date falls between 1 January and 31 March.

Where an officer joins the council between 1 October and 31 December, 1 April will fall within the probationary period. In this instance in order to establish a satisfactory performance level incremental progression will be deferred until the end of the probation period.

Staff who receive incremental progression between 1 January and 31 March will not receive an April increment. This may occur where there is an increase in salary for the following reasons:

  • a change of grade as a result of job evaluation
  • progression through career graded/link graded posts
  • an existing member of staff is appointed to a different post within the council
  • secondment to a higher grade resulting in salary progression, subject to progression being the same, or in excess of, the expected incremental progression in their substantive post, had the officer achieved satisfactory performance

Probationary period

4.19 It is expected that when employees join the council performance objectives are set and managed through the probationary process and incremental progression will be subject to the “rules” set out in paragraph 4.18.

Maternity, paternity or parental and other absences

4.20 Officers on maternity, paternity or parental leave should be assessed as if at work for the whole year.

4.21    Assessments will give rise to incremental progression in line with the terms of the scheme and qualifying periods.

Other leave/absences

4.22    Employees absent from work for extended periods totalling six months (132 days) or more (pro-rata for part-time employees) such as for sickness absence, sabbaticals and so on will not normally be eligible for incremental progression, however, each case will be considered on its individual merits. Advice should be sought from HR regarding the incremental position in these circumstances.  It is expected that a performance assessment is undertaken on the individual’s return.

Addressing poor performance

4.23 Poor performance will be primarily dealt with through the council’s capability procedure. The performance review process should not be the first time that the employee becomes aware of any issues around performance and/or competencies.  Managers have a responsibility to monitor performance on a regular basis in one-to-ones and take responsibility for addressing under performance in a timely manner.

Appeals process

4.24 Individuals can appeal against their end of year performance assessment. The grounds for appeal are to be made, in writing, to the Head of Human Resources by 30 April each year. If your assessment is late then the deadline to appeal may be extended.

4.25 The appeal should clearly identify the reasons for the appeal and any supporting evidence for the panel to consider. Appeals can be made on technical points of the assessment such as the employee believes that incorrect information has been used in the assessment or that the manager has not taken proper account of relevant information, for example.

4.26 Appeals will be considered by an appeals’ panel comprising the Corporate Director, manager representative, staff side representative and Human Resources officer. The decision of the appeals’ panel will be final.

Performance management framework: forms

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5.1 The following section provides the documents required to manage performance using the performance management framework.

5.2 Documents are available electronically.

5.3 Once “downloaded” the documents will require saving locally and can be used as a performance management record for each year.

Note: Chief Executive, Director and heads of service will need to add four performance objective rows to the forms.

Managers will need to ensure that at least one of their six performance objectives is around performance, finance and/or people management.