Performance Management

On this page: Purpose | How to use this program | The university's expectations regarding performance management | Definition | Objectives | Principles of developing a performance management plan | Supervisor's responsibility | Available resources


The purpose of this program is to provide supervisors with a resource to help them implement a performance management plan. While the University does not dictate a specific plan, all supervisors are expected to do some form of performance management consistent with the following guidelines.

Note: Supervisors on campuses with an established performance management program should follow and use campus-specific procedures and forms. Consult the campus Human Resources office for details and clarification.

How to use this program

This program is divided into three sections: Introduction, Cycle, and Summary. If you are not familiar with the concept and principles of performance management, first familiarize yourself with all of the content in this Introduction. Then, go through the steps of the Cycle in sequence (starting with "Determine Major Job Duties") and conclude with the Summary. If you are familiar with Performance Management, feel free to go directly to a section to obtain specific information based on your needs. At any time you can look for a term using the search function. Also check out the information under the "Forms" section.

The university's expectations regarding performance management

One of the most important functions of managers and supervisors is to effectively manage resources, and one of the most important resources they have is the staff they supervise. Managing them (and consequently their performance) begins with designing the jobs – determining what duties are important to include in a job, what the qualifications are to fulfill those duties and what level of performance is needed to meet the mission of the department. Performance management continues with the filling of the job with the best candidate, the training of the new hire and the continuous coaching to clarify expectations.  

Management of performance is important to being a good supervisor and clarification of expectations and performance feedback is also important to those they supervise. Consequently, all supervisors are expected to participate in a performance management program with their staff. Certain employee groups have specific policies and guidelines for applying the principles of performance management; therefore, supervisors will want to consult the appropriate policy manual. Following are two examples: 


Performance management is an ongoing, continuous process of communicating and clarifying job responsibilities, priorities and performance expectations in order to ensure mutual understanding between supervisor and employee. It is a philosophy which values and encourages employee development through a style of management which provides frequent feedback and fosters teamwork. It emphasizes communication and focuses on adding value to the organization and employee by promoting improved job performance and encouraging skill development. Performance Management involves clarifying the job duties, defining performance standards, and documenting, evaluating and discussing performance with each employee.

PM cycle determine major job duties define performance standards for each duty document job performance evaluate job performance hold performance discussions


The objectives of Performance Management are to:

  1. Increase two-way communication between supervisors and employees
  2. Clarify mission, goals, responsibilities, priorities and expectations
  3. Identify and resolve performance problems
  4. Recognize quality performance
  5. Provide a basis for administrative decisions such as promotions, succession and strategic planning, and pay for performance.

Principles of developing a performance management plan

Development of a performance management plan should be consistent with the following principles:

  1. Performance management is considered a process, not an event. It follows good management practice in which continual coaching, feedback and communication are integral to success.
  2. The Performance Management Plan is primarily a communication tool to ensure mutual understanding of work responsibilities, priorities and performance expectations.
  3. Elements for discussion and evaluation should be job specific – not generalized personality traits. The major duties and responsibilities of the specific job should be defined and communicated as the first step in the process.  
  4. Performance standards for each major duty/ responsibility should be defined and communicated.   
  5. Employee involvement is encouraged in identifying major duties and defining performance standards.
  6. Professional development should be an important component of the plan.
  7. The formal evaluation period should be long enough to allow for full performance and to establish a history such that evaluations are fair and meaningful. One year is a common evaluation period. 
  8. Documentation of performance will occur as often as needed to record the continuum of dialogue between supervisor and employee.  
  9. If formal ratings are included, they should reflect the incumbent's actual performance in relation to the performance standard for that major duty. 
  10. The supervisor should be evaluated on the successful administration of the plan and ongoing performance management responsibilities.
  11. Training for supervisors and employees is encouraged and will be provided by University Human Resource Services.  
  12. The Performance Management Plan should be consistent with federal and state laws which address non-discrimination.

Supervisor's responsibilities

The supervisor's responsibilities are to:

  1. Communicate and clarify major job duties, priorities and expectations.
  2. Establish and communicate performance standards.
  3. Monitor employees' performance through observation, discussion, etc.
  4. Document positive and unsatisfactory performance.
  5. Provide continuous coaching and constructive feedback in a timely manner.
  6. Hold performance discussions (at least annually).
  7. Correct poor performance and reinforce good performance.
  8. Help employees to develop skills and abilities for improved performance.
  9. Provide necessary information, resources and opportunity to allow accomplishment of key results.

Available resources

Talent and Organization Development, IU Human Resources, is available to provide consultation with supervisors interested in developing a Performance Management Plan. Individual and/or group training on all aspects of Performance Management is provided upon request.