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Performance Management Tools & Resources

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Creating Duties Statements

Principal Job Responsibilities

The following provides guidelines to assist in developing specific and measurable duties statements.  Duties statements:

  • Clearly define and specifically describe the actual work to be completed. 
  • Use action oriented duty statements (begins with verb).
  • Normally 6 – 8 core functional areas that make up a job.
  • Identify specific standards and outcomes of performance (where possible).

Criteria for Developing Effective Duties Statements

Action-oriented Duties Statements: statements include the following elements

  1. Does WHAT (the verb)
  2. To WHOM or WHAT (the direct object of the verb)
  3. WHY (for what reason or purpose)
  4. HOW (by applying knowledge of laws, rules, processes, procedures)
  5. Performance Standards:  written descriptions of how well work must be performed.  Standards provide supervisors and employees:
    • A clear picture about the quality or quantity of work that is expected (performance expectations);
    • An objective, reliable way to evaluate performance; and
    • Specific benchmarks to compare actual performance with desired performance

Performance Goals

While an annual review looks at the past year, setting goals looks to the upcoming year. Goal setting provides the opportunity for employees and managers to consider both the big picture (college-wide and/or department goals) and the individual perspective. Goals should define how the employee will support the organizational/unit and assist them in improving their performance.

When establishing goals (which should be linked to the overall college/ department goals), they should be “SMART:”

S (Specific) There should be no room for misinterpretation of what is expected, clearly state the outcome you want or need from the employee.
M (Measurable) Define exactly how you (or others) will know when the employee is achieving or meeting the goal.
A (Achievable) Be sure it is possible for the employee to achieve or meet the goal and also identify resources and a time frame for him/her to reach it.
R (Relevant) The goal needs to be applicable to the employee’s position and/or performance standards and align with departmental goals.
T (Timely) The time frame for each goal needs to be realistic.

Evaluation Bias

In addition to ensuring that evaluation is based on a comprehensive view of the employee’s performance over the evaluation period, it is also advisable to refer to sources of information that have documented the employee’s contributions over the evaluation period. In providing the evaluation, comments and ratings should be pegged to the performance program for the employee. Any unanticipated changes in the job performance should be considered in providing the evaluation (e.g., the professional staff member might have been operating with an assistant for 3 months out of the year).

Sources of Bias

Supervisors should be alert to common sources of bias in rating the performance of the professional staff member. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Leniency/Strictness/Central tendency: A personal tendency to provide ratings on the higher or lower or middle range of the rating scale.
  • Halo Effect: A tendency to give employees higher ratings because of one or two tasks they may perform very well.
  • Horns Effect: Reverse of “Halo” effect, in that employees receive poor ratings because of one or two tasks they performed poorly.
  • Recency Effect: A recent task performance may color the overly influenced.
  • Contrast Effect: A tendency to evaluate an employee in contrast to another one (this may or may not work to the benefit of the staff member being evaluated).

In other cases, the supervisor may rate based on a personal connection to the staff member (e.g., similarity in interpersonal style) or any factor other than the performance program.

Avoiding Bias

Generally, it is good practice to understand the rating scale and define each point of the rating scale to oneself before providing a rating. It might also be beneficial to write the evaluative statement for each category before providing the rating in that category. Supervisors/Evaluators are also urged to talk to the staff member on a regular basis (e.g., quarterly) about their job performance, as opposed to only providing feedback at the end of the evaluation period.