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Performance Evaluation Tips

What are SMART Goals?

How to Write SMART Goals

Performance Goals vs. Development Goals 

Being Effective in Your Role

Documenting Performance

Evaluating Performance

Discussing Performance

Performance Evaluation Rating Scale [PDF]

What Are SMART Goals?

An important part of managing your performance is establishing goals for the upcoming year.  The purpose of setting these goals is not to detail your daily activities, but to help you define larger challenges that you will work toward over the upcoming year.  To ensure that employees write effective goals, Drexel and DUCOM utilize the SMART criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Ambitious and Achievable
  • Results-based
  • Time-bound

Creating SMART goals helps you and your manager clearly understand what is expected from you in order to ensure that you are properly evaluated.

How to Write SMART Goals

In order to be effective, every goal you write should adhere to each of the SMART criteria:


The goal should define specific results and provide concrete details on what is to be achieved.  For example, “Start writing a monthly department newsletter” is more specific than “Improve inter-department communication.”


When writing the goal, define how you and your manager can measure its success.  There are several ways to measure goals:

  • Behavior: An observable change in an employee's actions
  • Quantity: A numerical increase or decrease
  • Quality: How well the result meets the criteria set in a goal
  • Cycle time: Time from request to completion; processing time
  • Efficiency: Resources (time, budget, people) applied to achieve the result

Ambitious and Achievable

Goals should be challenging and go beyond your day-to-day duties while at the same time be achievable.


When writing, state the results to be achieved rather than the activity or work processes leading to those results.  Focus on what you are responsible for accomplishing.


Establish a time limit.  State the date by which results must happen, or, for ongoing expectations, specify how often the goal or expectation must be met as well as how often it will be reviewed.

Example SMART Goals

  • To reconcile the department financial reports by the fifteenth of every month with no increase in reconciliation errors.
  • To lead the assessment and redesign of the department’s webpage in order to create a professional and student-focused website. Develop, revise, and design by September 2010.
  •  To reduce overtime in the department from 150 hours per month to 50 hours per month by the end of the fiscal year with no increase in student complaints.

Performance Goals vs. Development Goals 

Performance Goals

Performance goals are the “what” you are working to accomplish. They are tied to departmental and/or organizational strategic priorities. Below is an example of a performance goal:

Billing Management

Implement an enhanced billing management process through web based technology by April 30. Develop a master design document, and creating stakeholder buy-in and awareness. Ensure functionality of system and new form. Develop the communication and implementation plan for the new process by the end of September. Ready for delivery in mid-October.

Development Goals

Development goals focus on areas you want to develop in order to grow in your job or advance in your career. Below is an example of a development goal:

Public Speaking

To increase my effectiveness in giving presentations I will join Toastmasters by March 31 and attend at least 6 monthly meetings by the end of the year. I will ask Ted Thomas to provide feedback using the Toastmasters format on my presentations after each staff meeting during the year.

Being Effective in Your Role

While SMART goals are important, remember that you are judged on both goals and competencies.  Goals define what an employee is tasked with achieving throughout the performance cycle, while competencies define how an employee completes his or her goals and day-to-day activities.  Goals and competencies are not mutually exclusive, but are two halves of an effective whole.  Here are some tips to help ensure that you are effective in both goals and competencies:

  • Make an effort to understand the goals of your position, your department, and the University, and draft personal objectives for the year to support those goals.
  • Seek clarification when needed to understand expectations.
  • Provide performance documentation and feedback to your manager.
  • Keep track of performance throughout the year using your calendar or a journal to record your accomplishments and challenges.
  • Act on your manager’s feedback and coaching.
  • Work with your manager to evaluate performance – both during your review and throughout the year.
  • Look for opportunities to improve your work.
  • Take advantage of professional development opportunities, including training, conferences, and Drexel coursework.

Documenting Performance

When documenting performance, note both what and how.  Performance goals define what an employee is tasked with achieving throughout the performance cycle, that is, expectations for results.  Competencies define how an employee completes these tasks, that is, the behaviors they use as they work to deliver results.  Goals and competencies are not mutually exclusive.  Rather, they are interdependent parts of effective performance.  For example:

  • An employee who achieves outstanding results but who leaves bruised relationships in his or her wake is not likely to be able to maintain these results over time, especially if they require the help and support of others.
  • An employee who is outstanding at maintaining excellent interpersonal relationships but does not deliver results undermines the performance of the team, function, and possibly the university.

It’s only by documenting both what and how that anyone can accurately assess an employee’s performance.

Evaluating Performance


  • Ask employees to self-evaluate.  Feedback from employees on their own performance provides their perspective and a starting point for the performance discussion.
  • Seek feedback from key co-workers.  This provides a full picture of interactions.
  • Consider the degree of difficulty in assignments.  Is this the same work as in the past or something newly acquired?  Has their work expanded in scope or amount of responsibility?  Were there any projects that caused great results with little contribution?
  • Judge performance, not potential.  Focus on actual contributions and results achieved. This is a review of “accomplishments”, not of “potential.”
  • Judge achievement, not progress.  Be diligent about reviewing successful attainment of positive results and contributions during a fixed period of time rather than crediting effort, activity, or progress. 
  • Review performance for the entire cycle.  The evaluation must reflect an employee’s performance over the whole period of time covered by the review.  One month of outstanding performance does not offset eleven months of mediocre performance, even if it occurred in the month immediately preceding the review.
  • Review each objective independently.  Do not let reviews of one objective influence the review of another.  Employees often do better in some areas than others.  Therefore, review each aspect of performance independently of others.
  • Be a courageous, conscientious reviewer.  This may be the toughest guideline of all.  Managers who succeed here are scrupulous about giving a favorable evaluation of performance only when the employee has really earned it.  They know that the easy, comfortable route is to give people a “break” or the benefit of the doubt – no conflict, no difficult review discussion. 
  • Avoid rating pitfalls:
    • Leniency—The tendency to use a less stringent set of standards to rate an employee, resulting in an inflated rating.
    • Halo Effect—The tendency to give an employee an overall rating, either positive or negative, based on the evaluation of a single performance objective, which results in an inaccurate evaluation of overall performance.
    • Central Tendency—The tendency to avoid rating employees at the high and low extremes and to cluster all ratings at the center of a rating scale.
    • Impressions—The tendency to rate an employee on the basis of impressions and gut feelings rather than on concrete, observable examples of performance, behaviors and skills gathered over a period of time.
    • Recency Effect—The tendency to rate an individual on his/her most recent performance or contributions rather than on performance during an entire review period.

Discussing Performance

An important part of the performance review process is meeting with your manager to discuss your review.  Your manager should provide you with a copy of his or her evaluation before the meeting so you can look it over prior to discussing it.  Then, in the meeting, you and your manager should:

  • Review your performance goals and competencies one-by-one
  • Discuss themes and your overall performance rating
  • Address career development and opportunities
  • Work together to create SMART performance goals and at least one development goal for the coming year

If you have any questions about what is expected of you during your performance discussion, ask your manager.