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Manager's Guide to Performance Management


Most employees want to be successful contributors to an organization. They want to know what is expected of them and how they can most effectively achieve those expectations. Performance management is the systematic process that a manager applies to involve employees in accomplishing a unit’s mission and goals, improving overall unit effectiveness, and helping employees understand the importance of their contributions. Effective performance management requires that the manager:

In the event that performance does not meet established requirements, the manager must understand the corrective processes and methods that can help improve employee performance.

At the UW, a manager may supervise professional staff, classified staff covered by one or more collective bargaining agreements, classified staff covered by civil service rules, and temporary employees. While performance management principles are the same for all employees, the manager needs to be familiar with the performance requirements that apply to the employment programs.


Ensure each employee has an up-to-date job description. Employees should have an opportunity to review their job description and obtain clarification on any elements they may not understand.

Develop a list of competencies for each position. If you find that some employees do not possess all of the competencies their positions require, develop training goals so that the desired level of competency can be achieved.

Decide how you can most effectively assess and provide feedback about performance. Be sure your employees understand the measures and/or methods you use to determine how well they are achieving the goals established for them.

Provide Feedback

It is important that feedback be timely. Acknowledge really good work just as readily as you would address work that needs improvement. It can be easy to take good performance for granted and only point out problems. Employees appreciate balance, honesty, and fairness.

At least annually, comprehensively review your employees’ performance. An annual review is an opportunity to accomplish the following:

  1. Sum up an overall assessment of how work has gone over the previous year.
  2. Identify goals that have been met and those where additional effort may be required.
  3. Determine whether the employee’s job description and competencies accurately reflect the reality of the position, and make updates as necessary.
  4. Identify performance, achievement and/or development goals for the upcoming year.
  5. Make sure that the employee has an opportunity to provide input before the review is finalized.

The annual review should be finalized, then reviewed and signed by the employee. The format of the review and its level of detail depend on the nature of the employee’s position and the employment program.

The following table summarizes and provides links to information about performance management requirements for UW staff.

Performance Management Process Summary
  Process Evaluation Time Frame Form
Contract Classified Staff

See performance evaluation in the appropriate contract

At least annually.

See performance evaluation in the appropriate contract for requirements.

(optional form - can be used consistent with contract and unit requirements)


Classified Non-Union Staff

See Performance Management Process for Classified Non-Union Staff

See Performance Management Policy for Classified Non-Union Staff

At least annually.

Performance and Development Plan


Professional Staff

See the Professional Staff Program

At least annually.

A current performance evaluation (completed within the previous 12 months) is required to support recommendations for merit salary adjustments and in-grade or grade change salary increases.

Performance Review – Conversational Approach
Performance Evaluation – Structured Approach

Performance Evaluation – Performance Feedback

Unsatisfactory Performance

If an employee’s job performance is not satisfactory and normal coaching, counseling and training have not brought performance to an acceptable level, corrective action may be necessary. Classified non-union staff, contract classified staff, and professional staff employment programs each have their own processes and requirements, with which you should be familiar before initiating corrective action.


The Human Resources Consultant who serves your unit can advise you in your implementation of performance management practices. Contact your Human Resources Consultant if you believe that some form of corrective action may be appropriate.


Learn more about performance management from Professional & Organizational Development (POD):

The employee assistance program, UW CareLink, offers support for employees having personal concerns that may be affecting job performance.

The UW Recognition Program helps honor excellent job performance by staff.