This section provides instructions for creating performance plans for employees, including:
Performance plan requirements
Performance plans are documented on USDA Performance Appraisal forms:
Form AD435 (PDF) is used to record individual and work unit information, as well as a listing of all the performance elements. This form is also used to calculate the summary rating at the end of the performance cycle, and to record employee, supervisor, and reviewing official signatures.
Form AD435A (PDF) is used to record the first element and the associated performance standards. This form is also used to document the completion of the mid-year progress review.
Form AD435B (PDF) is used for remaining performance elements and performance standards. Use an additional Form AD435B if you need more space for any additional performance elements and standards.
Importance of Communication
Establishing effective performance plans requires communication between the supervisor and the employee. The supervisor is expected to involve employees in the development of their performance plans, i.e. participation in standards development or commenting on draft plans, etc. While employees should be given an opportunity to comment and make suggestions on their performance plan, the final authority and responsibility for establishing performance plans rests with the supervisor.
USDA’s performance appraisal cycle begins October 1 and ends September 30 of each year. The supervisor is required to provide each employee a performance plan within 30 days after the beginning of any of the following:
the start of the performance cycle;
when a new employee reports for duty; and/or
when an employee is assigned to a different position with substantially different duties (for example - a detail or temporary promotion for more than 120 days, a promotion, or reassignment).
Requirements for All Employees
The following table provides performance plan requirements for all non-supervisory employees. Additional requirements for supervisors and for employees with safety and health and personally identifiable information (PII) responsibilities are described later in this section.
Employee performance plans must…
… include balanced, credible measures of performance which help accomplish organizational and work unit objectives.
The AgLearn course “Managing Performance in Marketing and Regulatory Programs” provides guidance in this area.
… contain a minimum of 3, and a maximum of 7 performance elements.
Critical elements are weighted 2, and non-critical elements are weighted 1.
… include at least one critical element which is linked to the strategic goals and objectives of the organization. An alignment statement needs to be listed under the performance element(s) to show linkage to organizational or work unit goals.
Agency and Departmental goals and objectives can be found in the following strategic plans:
… include a critical element which addresses civil rights awareness and interpersonal skills in either an existing or a newly established critical element. This element can be a stand-alone element or included within another element.
The following is an example of wording that may be used to meet this requirement:
“Treats all employees, stakeholders, program beneficiaries, and the general public with fairness, dignity, and respect - consistent with agency goals for civil rights and equal opportunity.”
Additional Requirements for Supervisory Employees
Supervisory performance plans must contain appropriate measures for hiring reform, performance management accountability, cultural transformation and for obtaining and utilizing employee and/or customer feedback. Required text for hiring reform, performance management accountability, and cultural transformation and examples for utilizing employee and customer feedback are incorporated in the following mandatory critical elements:
Note: The RM/HRM/SML elements and standards should not be edited as they contain material required by OPM, USDA Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM) and the USDA Performance Management Regulation.
Additional Requirements Regarding Safety & Health, PII, and Feedback
A performance element incorporating safety and health or responsibility for personally identifiable information (PII) is required for employees with those work assignments. The performance standard also should reflect the desired results and outcomes.