Performance planning is critical to implementing a performance management system. Every supervisor should conduct a performance planning session with each eligible staff member. During this meeting, the supervisor should describe what the direct report is to achieve during the next performance cycle. The supervisor must be able to articulate:

  • The general function of the position
  • The key duties associated with the position
  • The relative importance of each duty to the achievement of the department's goals
  • The indicators the supervisor will use (either results or behaviors) to judge the employee's performance on each duty
  • The standards to be used to determine the level of performance achieved by the staff member on each result or behavior

The supervisor can then communicate to the employee what is expected in terms of performance and how that performance will be appraised at the end of the performance cycle.

Performance Planning Meetings

Performance planning meetings are any scheduled meetings where you communicate to your employee you want to discuss his performance and your expectations for fulfilling required duties. Performance planning meetings can be held at any time including during the new hire orientation process, mid-year, or after the formal appraisal process for eligible employees. As you begin the meeting, you want to encourage and model two-way communication by encouraging the employee to ask questions and be an active participant in the planning process.

To begin the meeting, start by reviewing the key duties and behaviors for the position and make sure the employee understands the priorities. Discuss performance standards for each duty and make sure that the employee knows what it takes to meet expectations. How do you do that? You can ask the staff member to rephrase the expectations in his own words or to give an example of effective or poor performance for that key duty. Then, together you can determine how to best measure performance for each duty or behavior. Keep in mind that you can discuss standards and measures, but as a manger, it is your responsibility and obligation to ensure that the standards and measures are appropriate for the position.

In most cases, the performance-planning meeting will go well and your employee will have a clear roadmap for fulfilling her responsibilities. However, at times there may be resistance to the standards set. If there is resistance to standards, explain why you feel the standards are appropriate. Ask the employee if there are any obstacles preventing her from reaching her performance goals. By encouraging open dialogue, you can ascertain what the problem is and how to resolve it. From  there, discuss the commitment you will make in terms of resources, time and direct assistance to help the employee to improve performance, including participation in professional development programs.

Performance Appraisal Meetings

Performance appraisal meetings are held for eligible employee according to the official university schedule.  Like the performance planning meeting, you should model and encourage open communication.

You should provide information and relevant timelines to all eligible employees well in advance. Once you are informed of the Pay-for-Performance or Staff Compensation Schedule for the current year and or your unit, share that information with the staff. Key dates might include completion of self-appraisal, scheduled appraisal sessions, and motivation of ratings.

To prepare for the appraisals meeting, ensure it is held in a private area with minimal distractions. If your office does not afford the privacy necessary, try to secure a vacant office or meeting room. Begin the meeting by summarizing the employee’s overall performance level. Do not discuss your overall recommendation or increase unless you have secured approval from your Vice President or Chancellor. If the employee has completed a self-appraisal, ask the employee to share this with you. From there, discuss the difference between your appraisal and the employee’s self-appraisal. Discuss the performance levels for each key duty, asking the employee about her feelings about your assessment. Be sure to cite specific examples to explain your ratings and discuss the positive and/or negative consequences of the level of performance the employee has achieved. Some consequences may include recognition, career enhancement, or an opportunity to be considered for other challenging duties. Finally, discuss developmental opportunities with the employee and begin the performance planning process for the next appraisal period.

In most cases, the appraisal meeting will go well, however at times the meeting may not go as planned. Difficult appraisal meetings do occur and the following strategies scan help you manage the situation tactfully and with carte. Focus on gaining acceptance by the employee and developing joint solutions for a performance plan. To do so, review those areas where there are disagreements and try to reach a common ground of understanding. It is not uncommon for the employee to misunderstand the standards for performance. For example, and staff member who is responsible for conducting workshops may say, “I did exceptionally well in this duty. I conducted thirty workshops last semester.” However, you then remind the employee that the standards for the duty were not the quantity of workshops, but the quality. You then let him know that some sessions were cancelled due to poor advertising and the evaluations from students were inconsistent in rating their satisfaction. From there you can obtain agreement on the problem areas and identify ways to improve performance. Agree on a set of actions and schedule follow up dates to review progress.

After the appraisal meeting, be sure to support the employee’s performance improvement. This can be done by providing necessary information and resources, scheduling on-site training, and allowing for participation in professional development. Additionally, it is important that you look for opportunities to observe the employee’s performance and behaviors. Ideally, you will use coaching techniques.