Effective Performance Management

Penn's global eminence in teaching, research, and community service is achieved because of the diligent, innovative efforts of our outstanding faculty, staff and students. Effectively managing Penn's staff is a top priority for our managers. Research has shown that effective management enhances staff engagement, improves productivity, and promotes staff development. As shown in the illustration below, effective management is an ongoing process that requires constant and consistent effort.  

Performance Management cycle

Keys to Effective Performance Management

There are essential steps managers should undertake in managing staff. These include:

  • Establish and communicate (verbally and in writing) clear, detailed goals and performance expectations
  • Provide coaching, training, support, time, resources to help the staff member succeed
  • Monitor and observe staff member’s performance
  • Provide regular, specific, timely feedback to the staff member on his/her progress at meeting established performance goals and expectations
  • Provide professional development feedback and opportunities
  • Assess and document staff member’s performance
  • Address issues in a timely manner when expectations are not being met
  • Provide staff member with regular recognition on achievements and accomplishments
  • Watch the Effective Performance Management video for more ideas.

    Set Performance Expectations

    Managers should establish and communicate (verbally and in writing) clear, detailed goals and performance expectations to their staff. Performance goals and expectations are different from the duties and responsibilities included in the job description or Position Information Questionnaire. Performance expectations describe how the assigned duties and responsibilities should be performed. Performance expectations focus on the end results desired and help the staff member understand the level of achievement expected.

    Goals with S-M-A-R-T-S

    When writing goals and expectations remember to use the SMARTS criteria.  Goals and expectations should be:

    • Specific – give details on the end results expected
    • Measurable – outline measures that will be used to determine when goal is met
    • Achievable – must be a realistic expectation                                     
    • Results Oriented – goals and expectations should focus on the end results desired
    • Time Bound – identify deadlines and milestones
    • Stretch – some, but not all goals, may present a challenge to support professional development


    Job duty:  Word process documents and reports

    Performance expectation: Accurately word-process documents by the specified deadline and in accordance with the format used by the department. All documents should be spell-checked, proofread, checked for grammatical errors and corrected prior to submitting to the requestor.


    In addition to performance expectations, competencies can be identified to describe the major skills, abilities, and attributes that a staff member needs to be successful in a job and/or organization. A list of the competencies and their definitions used in Penn’s appraisal programs can be found here.

    More Resources on Setting Expectations

    Give Feedback

    Giving staff regular feedback on their performance is the number one driver of satisfactory performance. Regular feedback helps staff understand their progress at meeting expectations, provides recognition for their accomplishments and enhances staff productivity and engagement.

    Steps to Effective Feedback

    • Plan
      • Review documentation and relevant information; jot down notes on items you want to cover
    • Timing
      • Notify staff member about meeting
    • Set the Tone
      • Establish a setting conducive to dialogue.Emphasize the positive; appraise performance; not the person.Avoid distractions during the meeting.
    • Give Specifics
      • Identify specific actions and behaviors where expectations were and were not met.Give specific examples
    • Encourage Dialogue
      • Engage in active listening, allow time for questions and clarification
    • Coach
      • Offer recommendations and guidance
    • Set Goals and Plan for Follow Up
    • Summarize and End on a Positive Note
      • Summarize important points and action plans
    • Document Feedback
      • Do a brief written summary of the feedback meeting which includes:the date of the meeting, where performance expectations were and were not met, topics covered, action plans and any follow up activities.Accurate documentation is a good foundation for future employment decisions.

    More Resources on Giving Feedback

    Appraising Staff Performance

    The University has formal programs to help managers appraise staff performance. These include:

    Introductory Review Period – for newly hired staff

    90 Day Evaluation Period – for current staff members who transfer to new Penn positions

    Performance and Staff Development Program – annual performance appraisal for eligible staff members

    If Staff Members Don't Meet Expectations – guidelines and support for addressing performance issues

    All of these programs encompass the essential keys to effective performance management, including but not limited to, setting expectations, giving feedback on performance and establishing professional development goals.

    For Further Assistance

    Consult with Staff and Labor Relations (215-898-6093) or your school/center human resources professional. 

    Staff and Labor Relations Contact List