Table of Contents
1. Introduction to Performance Management 4
2. Getting Started 6
3. Job Family Compass Guides and Success Factors 6
4. The Self-Appraisal 7
5. The Evaluation 8
6. Goal Setting 8
7. Workplace Learning and Performance 11
8. Diversity 11
9. Evaluating Employees in Supervisory Roles 12
10. Performance Improvement 12
Supporting Performance Improvement
11. Annual Merit Increases 13
12. Six Month Follow-ups 13
13. Things to Avoid 14
14. Frequently Asked Questions 14
Introduction to Performance Management (PM)
The performance appraisal process at Lehigh University is designed to be a formal part of the
ongoing two-way conversation between the employee and the supervisor. Appraising employee
performance is one of the most important job responsibilities associated with the role of
supervision. An effective appraisal requires the supervisor to set performance standards and
goals, clearly communicate performance expectations, support employees in accomplishing set
goals, and evaluate the impact/outcome of employees’ performance. This is referred to as
performance management (PM). The supervisor’s role in performance management and in the
performance appraisal process is that of a coach.
There are three components of the ongoing performance management process:
1. Setting expectations (goals and objectives)
2. Ongoing tracking and feedback
3. Reviewing results.
Setting expectations begins when an employee is hired, transferred, or promoted to another
position at Lehigh. All classified staff positions at Lehigh have position descriptions (PDs).
Managers and supervisors are responsible for providing new employees with their position
description. The provisional period of employment (90 days for most staff positions) is the initial
opportunity to set expectations and establish goals and objectives. Beyond the provisional period,
goals need to be established annually and reviewed and updated as necessary. Individual goals
should align with area and University goals. It is good practice to review goals at the mid-year
point in the performance management cycle.
Staff members are responsible for tracking progress toward established goals and discussing
progress with their supervisor. The supervisor’s role is to provide balanced feedback and coach
staff to enhance performance. Performance discussions need to occur on a regular basis. Staff
members should track progress throughout the year so that the information can be used for the
Reviewing results is the culmination of the performance management cycle. Performance is
formally evaluated based on results and outcomes of the established goals documented in the
Goals→Performance→Success (GPS) online tool, and discussed by the staff member and the
supervisor. This is also the time new goals are established for the next evaluation period.
The performance appraisal is the third phase of performance management – reviewing results. It
is also the first phase – setting expectations. It is not only to look back over the past year, but
more importantly, to look forward to the coming year, to discuss what needs to be accomplished
professionally, and how the employee will contribute to the departmental goals. The supervisor
and employee should also discuss and identify workplace learning programs necessary to
enhance and expand the employee’s skills in order to ensure the completion of departmental
goals and the stem’s strategic plan.
In 2006, the University launched the Performance Management Project. A steering committee
comprised of staff representing most University stems, was appointed and designed a new
process for evaluating staff performance. The new process is called GPS for
The GPS process is based on job accountabilities and related goals. Key accountabilities were
established in the PDs created a few years ago. Goals and objectives established for employees
during last year’s process will be included in the evaluation and linked to the key
accountabilities. GPS is a process of shared responsibility between the supervisor and the staff
member. The GPS online tool displays a workflow that will help guide staff members and
supervisors through the process. Quick guides, user guides and online presentations will be
available in addition to hands on GPS training sessions.
In addition to key job accountabilities, the following aspects are important in the appraisal
1. Setting Goals and Objectives: The full implementation of GPS in 2008 is heavily
dependent on goals established during last year’s appraisal process. In addition to
providing the framework for next year’s appraisal, setting goals and objectives provides
the opportunity for employees to understand how their individual goals link to the
strategic plan for the department and the stem. Goals and objectives established during
this performance cycle will be reviewed and evaluated in next year’s performance
2. Self-appraisals have always been a recommended part of the appraisal process but now
they become even more important. Employees who complete a self-appraisal demonstrate
the fourth Core Success Factor: Take ownership for personal learning and development.
(See page 5 for more information on success factors.)
3. Workplace Learning and Performance was previously referred to as “training and
development” and identifies the resources that aid employees in meeting their job goals
and stretching their job knowledge.
Performance management is an ongoing process, not a one-time discussion. A six-month follow-
up to the annual appraisal is encouraged, but it is important to monitor performance and provide
timely, specific, and balanced feedback when appropriate.
Performance planning gives meaning to what people do and it makes their work more
interesting. During the Lehigh All-Staff Employment Rewards (LASER) project launched in 2005,
Lehigh staff members affirmed that they wanted interesting and engaging work. One planning
tool available to managers and supervisors is the performance appraisal process. Performance
planning also ensures that we all work toward the same goal. Employees may not understand
how their work contributes to achieving the department and stem goals. It is the supervisor’s
responsibility to communicate and act as a catalyst so the employee understands his or her role in
achieving the institutional goals.
Feedback is an integral part of performance management. As mentioned above, feedback needs
to be timely, specific, and given frequently. Therefore the performance appraisal should be a
review of feedback given throughout the year. Feedback is a motivational tool. When employees
are told specifically how they did a good job, it emphasizes the desired level of performance and
motivates employees to achieve that same level in other areas of their work. Feedback can also
be a motivational tool for the employee who has not been performing at the expected level. The
manager should discuss the current level of performance, the expected level of performance, and
ask the employee to develop a plan for achieving the desired level of performance. Feedback on
significant and incremental improvement is equally important to the employee’s growth and
“No news is good news” does not apply to the performance management process. When an
individual does not receive a performance appraisal, the communicated message is not a positive
one. At the onset of the performance appraisal process, the president, provost, vice presidents,
and deans communicate that performance appraisals are mandatory for exempt and nonexempt
staff. HR tracks the return of performance appraisals and contacts the immediate supervisor and
the appropriate dean or vice president when appraisals are not returned. Surprising as it may
seem, most individuals would rather learn if their performance is less than satisfactory and why,
than to not receive any appraisal.
When a supervisor meets with employees regularly to discuss performance and provide feedback
and keeps a record of accomplishments, completing the annual performance appraisal should not
be an arduous task.
Where to start can be difficult, but there are a number of ways to prepare to evaluate an
employee’s performance over the past year. Supervisors should consider reviewing one or more
of the following:
• Position description
• Job Family Compass Guide (can be found on the Campus Portal or obtained from HR)
• Employee’s self-appraisal
• Notes from meetings with the employee
• Feedback from key people with whom the employee interacts regularly (contact HR for
suggestions in doing so)
• Last year’s performance appraisal which may contain goals for the current performance
Job Family Compass Guides and Success Factors
The Compass Initiative paved the way for the Performance Management project with the
completion of the Job Family Compass Guides. The Job Family Compass Guides provide
several tools to aid managers in the performance management process. Managers can refer to the
Compass Guide for information on key accountabilities and knowledge, skills, and abilities for
the job. Key accountabilities describe what needs to be accomplished in the position. Each
Compass Guide includes the Core and Managerial Success Factors as well as Functional
Success Factors developed by and for members of the job family. Core and Managerial Success
Factors are listed on page 7. Success factors describe how to perform the key accountabilities of
the job. The Staff Development Resource Guide provides information for workplace learning and
professional development. Job Family Compass Guides are available on the Campus Portal.
Core Success Factors: Managerial Success Factors:
1. Support Lehigh’s Mission and Goals 1. Build a Community
2. Embrace and Adapt to Change 2. Set a Strategic Vision
3. Accountability for Work Achievements 3. Manage and Facilitate Change
4. Take Ownership for Personal Learning 4. Coach Staff for Excellent Performance
and Development 5. Foster a Learning Environment
5. Communicate Effectively 6. Communicate to Ensure Effectiveness
6. Demonstrate Creativity and Innovation
Self-appraisals have always been a recommended part of the appraisal process due to the
importance of understanding how the employee views his or her performance. The completion of
self-appraisals by all employees was a key goal in the 2007 process and is equally important in
the 2008 process and beyond. When employees complete self-appraisals, they demonstrate Core
Success Factor #3, which states: Take accountability for work achievements. The self-appraisal
can easily be accomplished by asking the employee to complete the “Progress and Outcomes”
and “Comments” areas on the GPS online tool. Employees may also rate their performance for
each key accountability as part of the self-appraisal. Asking employees to list goals and
objectives and workplace learning suggestions for the upcoming year allows them the
opportunity to express interest in their career development.
It is important that employees know what is expected of them and by when. An early start
ensures time for employees to complete a self-appraisal, allows time for employees to digest the
appraisal prepared by the supervisor, and also allows time for the employee to respond to the
appraisal in the “Performance Summary” section on the GPS online tool before returning the
completed form to the supervisor. Schedules will vary by stem. Supervisors should consult their
stem leadership. A sample schedule follows.
Sample departmental schedule:
December 8 Start of performance appraisal process. Supervisor requests all employees
complete self-appraisals using the online GPS tool. Supervisor identifies a
due date of January 9, 2009.
January 9 Date self-appraisals are to be forwarded to the supervisor.
January 12 – 23 Supervisor reviews self-appraisals, completes performance appraisals for
all staff members, and reviews performance appraisals with next level
supervisor (if necessary).
January 26 – 30 Supervisor schedules performance meeting allowing sufficient time to
review all completed sections of the appraisal. (HR recommends 90
minutes.) When a supervisor forwards the online appraisal to the
“Performance Meeting” step it becomes available for the employee to
review the supervisor’s ratings and comments. Supervisor and employee
meet to discuss the appraisal.
February 2 – 6 Employee completes the “Summary Statement” section and finalizes
“2009 Performance Goals and Objectives.”
The supervisor’s evaluation of the staff member takes place following the completion of the
self-appraisal. Using the workflow established in the GPS online tool, the staff member will
forward the self-appraisal to his or her supervisor. The supervisor will select a rating from the
drop down menu that best reflects the direct report’s level of performance for each key
accountability and related goal(s). Supervisors are encouraged to add comments and enter or
edit weights for the key accountabilities and special projects (if applicable). Supervisors are
also encouraged to set goals for the next performance cycle and identify workplace learning
for the employee.
Goal setting is a very important part of the performance appraisal process and identifies where
employees should focus their efforts to effectively meet objectives during the course of the year.
This is the first step in completing the performance appraisal. Look at goals and objectives from
the prior year and comment on the results. Many of Lehigh’s stems and colleges have prepared
The achievement of goals and objectives is important but goals and objectives are a plan and
need to be flexible to accommodate change in workplace priorities. In many cases unexpected
activities or significant changes affect the employee’s ability to complete the goal. If a goal from
the previous year was not completed, document the reasons why. These circumstances can be
noted directly on the GPS online tool in the “Progress and Outcomes” area for the related key
accountability and associate goal. Notes can also be made in the “Notes” function of the PM
Use the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting process to establish goals and objectives. This process helps
ensure that both supervisors and staff members share the same understanding and clarity on goals
set during the performance management cycle.
Differentiating between a goal and an accountability:
An accountability is a statement about normal work output… a clearly defined and
established ongoing responsibility or requirement of a job. Accountabilities and
associated supporting activities are found on the position description. They describe what
the person in that position is responsible for regularly producing or providing. Ask,
“What are the normal expected outcomes of the position?”
A goal is a general statement about a desired outcome with one or more specific
objectives that define in precise terms what is to be accomplished within a designated
time frame. A goal may be performance-related, developmental, a special project, or
Types of performance, developmental, and special project goals:
A performance goal is usually linked to an accountability and could involve problem-
solving, innovating, or implementing some type of improvement.
A developmental goal may serve to enhance performance in the current role (greater
depth of knowledge/skills) or prepare for a new or future role.
Special projects could include a “stretch” assignment (build experience), be based on
the departmental plan, or meet a particular organizational need.
Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
Goals should describe accomplishments, not activities. First,
A = Achievable
R = Relevant
let’s look at what the S.M.A.R.T. acronym means …
T = Time-bound
Specific: Goal objectives should address the … who, what, when, where, and how. Make sure
the goal specifies what needs to be done, with a timeframe for completion. Use action verbs …
create, design, develop, implement, produce, etc. Example: Resolve accounting discrepancies
within 48 hours.
Measurable: Goal objectives should include numeric or descriptive measures that define
quantity, quality, cost, etc. How will you and your staff member know when the goal has been
successfully met? Focus on elements such as observable actions, quantity, quality, cycle time,
efficiency, and/or flexibility to measure outcomes, not activities. Example: Secure pledges from
ten new donors by the end of each week.
Achievable: Goal objectives should be within the staff member’s control and influence; a goal
may be a “stretch” but still feasible. Is the goal achievable with the available resources? Is the
goal achievable within the timeframe originally outlined? Consider authority or control,
influence, resources, and work environment support to meet the goal. Example: Obtain the XYZ
professional certification within two years.
Relevant: Goals should be instrumental to the mission of the department (and ultimately, the
institution). Why is the goal important? How will the goal help the department achieve its
objectives? Develop goals that relate to the staff member’s key accountabilities or link with
departmental goals that align with the institutional agenda. Example: Develop and implement a
diversity recruitment plan that increases the number of diversity candidates by ten percent.
Time-bound: Goal objectives should identify a target date for completion and/or frequencies for
specific action steps that are important for achieving the goal. How often should the staff
member work on this assignment? By when should this goal be accomplished? Incorporate
specific dates, calendar milestones, or timeframes that are relative to the achievement of another
result (i.e., dependencies and linkages to other projects). Example: Check the fire alarms and
emergency lighting in all buildings every six months.
Let’s look at some more examples:
For an organization or department…
Not SMART “Improve our student service.”
SMART “Achieve and maintain an average student service rating of at least 4.0 (out of
a possible 5.0) on our annual survey by 11/20/09.”
For an exempt staff member…
Not SMART “Create departmental plan.”
SMART “Create a 2009 operational plan for the new departmental initiative. Obtain
final approval from stem leadership and discuss it with our department so
individuals can begin setting their performance objectives by 1-29-09.”
Not SMART “Improve project management skills.”
SMART “Take the Project Management Essentials workshop on 10-18-2008, report
what was learned to our team by 11-01-2008, and apply the relevant concepts
while implementing our 2009 marketing plan.”
For a nonexempt staff member…
Not SMART “Send out welcome letters to our new students.”
SMART “Produce and distribute personalized welcome letters, error-free, to all new
students in our department by 9-26-09.”
Not SMART “Be more receptive to coaching suggestions and feedback.”
SMART “At our monthly progress meetings, ask for feedback on what is going well
and what things to improve. Keep a notebook with this information, try out
the suggestions, and document each week what worked and what didn’t.”
For an exempt or nonexempt staff member…
Not SMART “Keep our department’s Website up-to-date.”
SMART “Solicit updates and new material for the Website from our department
managers on the first Friday of each month; publish this new material by the
following Friday. Each time material is published, review the Website for
material that is out-of-date and delete or archive that material.”
Remember the S.M.A.R.T. acronym when establishing goals and objectives. This formula for
goal-setting helps ensure that both supervisors and staff members share the same understanding
and clarity on goals set during the performance management cycle.
Workplace Learning and Performance
Workplace learning is an important tool that enhances professional growth and development for
all staff members regardless of position or grade. All supervisors are encouraged to identify one
or two training programs related to a goal for each employee or to support requests for job-
related training made by employees. The online GPS tool has two sections for workplace
learning. The purpose of the first section (year being appraised) is to list any courses, seminars,
or workshops attended during the year. The second Workplace Learning section is to identify
seminars or workshops for the coming year. Workplace learning activities are generally linked to
a key accountability and associated goal.
Example from Online GPS Tool: 2009 Workplace Learning Section:
Consult the Staff Development Resource section in the respective Job Family Compass Guide
and refer to the Individual Development Plan to assist with these areas of the performance
appraisal online tool. Training programs offered through Human Resources at Lehigh can be
found at http://www.lehigh.edu/~inhro/PerformanceManagementDirectory.htm.
“Lehigh University actively promotes an inclusive community that values, affirms, and advances
the diverse backgrounds, interests, experiences, and aspirations of all its members.” This is a
sentence from the Diversity Initiative Mission Statement. Lehigh University is committed to
diversity and to building a community that is more reflective of society.
Diversity will always be a very important aspect of performance management at Lehigh and is
part of our everyday work life. It is applicable to everyone, not just those who supervise.
Behaviors demonstrate standards of professional conduct. Desired behaviors in the Lehigh
workplace are described in the Core and Managerial Success Factors. “Supporting Lehigh’s
mission and goals” and “building a community” are success factors supporting diversity.
Employees who are thoughtful in what they say and do exhibit an awareness and adherence to
Lehigh policies and goals, thereby contributing to an inclusive and productive workplace. How
an employee accomplishes key accountabilities and associated goals should be noted on the
performance appraisal. This GPS online tool provides “Comments” areas for each key
accountability and associated goal(s). The tool also has a “Notes” feature that can be used to
document how an employee performs relative to the core, managerial, and/or functional success
Evaluating Employees in Supervisory Roles
Employees who supervise other exempt and nonexempt employees need to be evaluated
regarding their effectiveness as a manager or supervisor. In the GPS process the supervisory role
will be addressed as a key accountability. If an employee supervises other nonexempt or exempt
employees, one of his/her key accountabilities should be supervision.
The GPS online tool has a “Get Feedback” function. Be advised that feedback received using this
function will remain on the performance appraisal tool and printed form. Those who evaluate
employees in supervisory roles should seek feedback from the employee’s direct reports. For
more information on how to obtain this feedback, contact Human Resources.
Supporting Performance Improvement
If an employee’s overall appraisal is rated “needs improvement,” “below most expectations,” or
“unsatisfactory,” the supervisor needs to complete the Performance Improvement form. The
Performance Improvement form is not part of the GPS online tool. It is a separate paper form and
is available at http://www.lehigh.edu/~inhro/forms.html.
In completing the Performance Improvement form, supervisors should also consider the
employee’s level of performance in comparison to the previous year. If, for example, an
employee had an unsatisfactory rating last year, the supervisor should identify where progress
has been made. By doing this the supervisor reinforces significant or complete improvement.
If some improvement has occurred, the supervisor still needs to reinforce the improvement and
focus on further improvement.
If significant progress has not been made, the supervisor should contact HR in order to be
prepared to discuss the employee’s lack of improvement and a course of action.
An example of the Performance Improvement form is shown on page 13.
Example of the Performance Improvement form:
Improvement Area Expected Results Time Frame Support Actions
Improved sense of Walk-in customers are March 2009 If you are with another customer
urgency when dealing to be assisted or on the telephone, establish
with walk-in or immediately. immediate eye contact and say, “I
telephone customers. Telephone calls should will be with you shortly.”
be answered by the If several phones ring at the same
third ring. time, ask customers to hold.
Request assistance from other
staff if necessary.
Annual Merit Increases
The annual staff salary increases are merit-based. Appraisals are to be completed by February
28, 2009 so they can be reviewed by the dean, vice president, or other designate to ensure there
is an appropriate relationship between the appraisal and the recommended merit increase. The
Board of Trustees approves the budget parameters including the merit increase guidelines at their
February board meeting. Recommended merit increases are then sent to the Budget Office for
the budget process. The Budget Office will provide the earliest date employees receiving a merit
increase may be notified of their new salary. The new salary is effective July 1, 2009 or when
the employee returns to Lehigh if working less than 12 months.
The timeframe for completion of performance appraisals is October 1, 2008 through February
28, 2009. Performance is an ongoing process, therefore appraising performance also needs to be
an ongoing process. Now that you’ve established goals for your employees, check back
periodically to see what progress has been made toward the goals. Quarterly checkups are ideal.
HR recommends following up to the performance review in July or August. This is an informal
review where the supervisor discusses with the employee his or her progress toward the goals. It
is also an opportunity to discuss whether goals have changed in priority or whether new goals
and priorities have emerged. The online GPS form for 2009 will be available early in 2009 to
note progress, comments, or edit/change goals.
Things to Avoid
Here are some helpful hints in completing the performance appraisal:
Pitfall How to address
An aspect of the employee’s performance is either Provide timely feedback to the employee and
very good or very poor just before the performance comment on the event in the appraisal, but be sure
appraisal. The supervisor allows this event to to consider all other aspects of the employee’s
overshadow the year. This is sometimes referred to performance throughout the year.
as “three-week memory” or the “horn/halo effect.”
An employee is absent for several weeks and the Attendance issues related to the Family Medical
absence is covered by short-term disability or the Leave Act or short-term disability, such as
Family Medical Leave Act. The supervisor pregnancy, should not be documented or discussed
documents in the appraisal that performance could in the performance appraisal. Contact Human
have been better if the employee were not out for Resources for more information.
such a long period of time.
The supervisor includes information in the The appraisal is intended to review the year but
performance appraisal that has not been discussed there should not be any surprises for the employee.
with the employee. Also, the appraisal should not be used as a
Frequently Asked Questions
• I have a new employee just completing the provisional period. Should I prepare an
For employees with a hire date of October 1, 2008 or later it is best to complete the GPS
online Provisional Period Report, which will be sent to the supervisor from HR. It will help
the employee know what is expected during the year and will help you with the appraisal
• Is it a good idea to solicit feedback from others with whom the employee works closely?
Within the department? Outside the department?
Yes. This is important because there are aspects of performance that you may not be able to
observe. This can be done informally through conversations or in writing (email, memo, etc.)
or by using the “Notes” feature of the online GPS tool. It can be accomplished formally by
using the “Get Feedback” function of the GPS tool. Be advised that comments made using
the “Get Feedback” function become a part of the appraisal and printed form. If you want to
weigh what others tell you and summarize it in a way that can be useful for the recipient, use
an informal method as described above. Include examples of behaviors if known.
• If I solicit feedback from others, must I identify who provided the feedback?
If it’s good, absolutely! If it’s negative, you may choose to summarize information from
several individuals. It is best to try to frame it from your perspective if you have first-hand
knowledge or have observed it. There are two sides to every situation and knowing both may
prove helpful. It also helps to allow the employee to explain his or her side. It is important
not to dismiss negative feedback. The goal should be to improve the work in all areas.
Use discretion and be tactful how you deliver this message. Feedback, especially negative
feedback, may raise issues of trust (people talking behind closed doors) or resentment (why
didn’t the person tell me directly). Emphasize Core Success Factor #3 – Take accountability
for work achievements.
• If I supervise from a distance, what is the best way to prepare the appraisal?
Make sure you set specific times to visit your employee’s work location on a regular basis.
There is no substitute for direct observation. Solicit feedback from students, customers, users,
colleagues, or others. Many departments use ongoing feedback through a comment card or
other similar form.
• How do I address serious performance problems?
This is a necessary and important task, but the performance review is not the best time to do
this. Serious problems should be addressed over time and they should never be a big surprise
during the performance review. Prepare carefully. Gather the facts. Talk to the employee. If
this topic has been discussed with the employee previously, document the previous and most
recent discussions. Prepare documentation for the employee and the file. The performance
improvement process generally includes several steps: verbal discussions, memos describing
actual versus performance standards, written notice of probation, and finally termination of
employment (if warranted).
• How is the appraisal used in relation to merit increases?
The performance appraisal is a very important tool in relation to merit increases. This is
where the supervisor needs to qualify: good, better, or best. Specific examples based on work
results and observable behaviors are necessary to objectively support the evaluation of good,
better, or best. Balanced comments and the use of specific examples will help to avoid
inflation of an employee’s rating. It will also provide the data to support differentiation as
“best.” In addition, this data praises the employee and may identify a candidate for one of
Lehigh’s recognition programs.
• What if the employee refuses to sign the performance appraisal?
The GPS online tool uses electronic signatures. The employee needs to move through the
signature step in order to complete the appraisal process. If an employee does not agree with
some aspect of the evaluation, the reason and concerns for the disagreement should be
documented in the “Performance Summary – Employee” section of the GPS tool. Either the
supervisor or the employee may choose to speak to someone in HR about the conflict and
seek assistance to resolve the concern.