Guidelines for Effective Performance Development

The purpose of performance development is to improve communication about performance between an employee and their supervisor.

The performance development system at Wellesley College is designed to provide alignment between the College’s mission, constituent needs and performance expectations. The program fosters ongoing two-way communication between employees and managers; supports the development of clear, consistent, and measurable goals linked directly to Wellesley’s core values and competencies; helps to articulate and support training needs and career development; and establishes the criteria for making reward and recognition decisions.

Effective performance development at Wellesley College begins with respect for one another and ends with excellence in performance. It is the responsibility of every supervisor to communicate on an ongoing basis with their employees. These conversations should provide clear and honest role expectations and feedback and should help identify improvement, development, and career issues. Each employee has a responsibility to participate fully in these conversations, be sure they understand their role responsibilities and expectations, and communicate any obstacles or training needed in order to perform their role at an optimum level.

The Performance Development Annual Summary Meeting

Performance development should be happening all year long. When a manager compliments an employee for a job well done or coaches an employee through a difficult situation, that is part of performance development. Wellesley’s performance development process includes a summary review assessment that should bring closure to the performance period and provide a basis for performance development for the next period. The following suggestions help set the stage for a productive discussion.

1. Establish the proper climate.
Create a sincere, open, and constructive atmosphere.
Schedule the meeting in advance and stick to it.
Allow enough time to discuss the review.
Locate a private space and guard against interruptions.

2. Make it clear that this is a joint discussion.
Listen and ask for the employee’s opinion.
Avoid words or body language that criticize the employee’s view.
Understand your employee’s point of view. Working together is better than being at odds.
Be willing to modify the Performance Develoment Document to reflect what is discussed and agreed upon at the meeting.

3. Discuss the role document and performance requirements.
Explore the competencies required for successful performance.
Update the role document if needed.

4. Discuss goals for the performance review period.
Review whether the goals were met.
Discuss obstacles and roadblocks that affected goal achievement.

5. Discuss opportunities for growth and development in the current role or a different role.
Discuss the employee’s developmental and career goals.
Remember there is also the opportunity for growth and development within the current role. There are new things to be done and more effective and efficient ways to accomplish work
Either at this meeting or a separate meeting, develop goals for the coming year. Refer to Guidelines for Setting Goals and Objectives for additional information on setting goals.

Remember, performance development is about ongoing two-way communication between the employee and their supervisor. The annual performance appraisal should be a summary of various meetings throughout the year (interim goal reviews/updates). There should be no surprises at this summary meeting.

Preparing for Annual Performance Development Discussions

Tips for the Employee: Employees have a responsibility in the performance development process and should be prepared to give feedback to their manager.

Review your current role document. Does it reflect your current role in the department? If not, discuss with your supervisor about revising your role document.
Review your goals for the year. Have they been met? Review your achievements. Think about obstacles/roadblocks you encountered and how you dealt with them.
Is there anyone else your supervisor should speak with before preparing your evaluation? Let your supervisor know this before the review meeting.
Review the competencies required for administrative staff positions at Wellesley. Identify specific areas of expertise or skills that you would like to develop or improve. Identify your strengths. In what areas have you improved? Can you identify any developmental goals for the coming year?
What ideas do you have for changes that would help you perform your role better and/or improve the operation of the department? Think about obstacles/roadblocks that you face in performing your responsibilities and what help is needed from your supervisor to overcome them.
If you manage others, what have you done to develop/strengthen your staff’s performance and skills?
Tips for the Supervisor: The supervisor is responsible for ongoing communication about performance throughout the year. Performance problems should be addressed as they occur. There should be no surprises in the end-of-the-year summary. The supervisor is responsible for preparing the summary documentation.

Review the employee’s role document. Does it reflect their current role in the department?
Review the primary position responsibilities. Has the employee effectively performed these? What is your overall assessment of how these responsibilities were performed?
Review the employee’s goals from last year. Were goals modified or changed during the review period? Have the goals been met? Have you been able to provide the employee with the tools and support to get the job done?
Review last year’s appraisal. How does this year compare to last year? Have there been improvements?
Consider whether you need to speak with anyone else in order to have a more complete and accurate picture of your employee’s performance.
Review the competencies required for administrative staff roles at Wellesley. Assess the employee’s strengths, weaknesses and areas of greatest improvement. Is there a specific area where you would like to establish a developmental goal?
What suggestions do you have for the employee that will help improve their performance in their role or the overall operations of the department?
If the employee supervises others, discuss what he or she has done to strengthen their own staff. Ask about regular communication of information, job expectations, and feedback.
Contact the Human Resources Office for assistance if substantial performance issues exist.
Finalizing the Performance Development Document

The supervisor is responsible for completing the final draft of the Performance Development Document and forwarding the completed document to Human Resources to become part of the employee’s personnel file. Send a hard copy so that signatures are included.

The supervisor should provide a copy of the final Performance Development Document to the employee.

The employee should sign the Performance Development Document. Signing the Performance Development Document indicates that the employee has met with their supervisor to provide input to the document, that they have reviewed the document, and that they have met with the supervisor to discuss it. The employee has the right to respond to the evaluation in writing.

Tips on Ongoing, Effective Feedback

Feedback involves treating each other with respect.

Constructive feedback tries to reinforce the positive and change the negative by:

Identifying what was done well or poorly.
Describing what action or behavior is desired.
Explaining the effects of the observed and desired acts of behavior.
Good feedback is timely. Give the feedback as quickly as possible after the event. Feedback long delayed is rarely effective.

Feedback involves both parties listening carefully. Check for clarity to ensure that the receiver fully understands what is being said.

Good feedback should be specific. Generalized feedback does not explain what behavior to repeat or avoid. Describe exactly what was done well and/or what could be improved. For example, “This report is well organized and the summary clearly states your conclusions and proposed actions” rather than “Good report.”

Keep feedback objective. Use factual records and information whenever possible. Include details that focus on specific actions and results rather than characteristics of the employee. For example, say “this happened” rather than “you are.” “You hung up the phone without saying good-bye.” rather than “you are rude.”

Feedback about performance issues is best delivered in person. The employee will have a chance to respond to any issues raised. Especially avoid delivering negative feedback via e-mail messages.

Non-monetary ways to recognize and motivate employees

Thank employees for a job well done. Do not take good work for granted
Provide meaningful feedback
Find special assignments
Offer opportunities for high visibility and notice by your supervisor
Share information. Get employees involved
Empower your employees
Celebrate employees’ successes
Provide opportunities for training


HR values and respects confidentiality.