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Performance Evaluation & Goals

Tips to help complete performance evaluations are provided below.

How to write goals using the SMART format

An important part of managing performance is to establish 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 embark upon over the upcoming year. To ensure that professional staff members write effective goals, Drexel encourages the use of the SMART format. SMART stands for:

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

Creating SMART goals helps you and your manager clearly understand what is expected of you in order to ensure that your annual review is accurate and comprehensive. Here are some ways to integrate SMART into your goal setting process.


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 a professional staff member's actions.
  • Quantity: A numerical increase or decrease.
  • Quality: How well the result meets the criteria defined in the 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, but they should also be achievable.


When writing goals, 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 due date for these results, or for ongoing expectations, specify how often the goal or expectation must be met as well as how often it will be reviewed.

Performance Goals vs. Development Goals

Performance Goals

Performance goals are 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 create stakeholder buy-in and awareness. Ensure functionality of system and a new interface. 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 not evaluated solely on goals, but also on Competencies and Shared Values. Competencies define how a professional staff member completes his or her goals and day-to-day activities. Shared Values reflect the environment we want to create at Drexel. Here are some tips to help ensure that you are effective in achieving goals and demonstrating Competencies and Shared Values:

  • Make an effort to understand the goals of your position, your department and the University. Draft personal objectives for the year to support those goals.
  • Seek clarification when necessary, to understand expectations.
  • Provide performance documentation and feedback to your manager.
  • Keep track of performance throughout the year using your calendar, a journal or the notes function in Career Pathway 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 achievement of goals and demonstration of Competencies and Shared Values. For example:

  • A professional staff member 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.
  • A professional staff member who is outstanding at maintaining excellent interpersonal relationships but does not deliver results undermines the performance of the team, function and possibly the university.

Evaluating performance

  • Self-reviews from professional staff members provides the employee's perspective and a starting point.
  • Seek feedback from key co-workers.
  • Consider the degree of difficulty in assignments. Has their work expanded in scope or amount of responsibility?
  • Judge performance, not potential.
  • Judge achievement, not progress.
  • Review performance for the entire cycle. The evaluation must reflect a professional staff member's performance over the whole period of time covered by the review.
  • Review each objective independently.
  • Be a courageous and 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 professional staff member has really earned it.
  • Avoid rating pitfalls:
    • Leniency – The tendency to use a less stringent set of standards to rate a professional staff member, resulting in an inflated rating.
    • Halo Effect – The tendency to give a professional staff member an overall positive rating based on the evaluation of a single performance objective.
    • Horns Effect – The tendency to give a professional staff member an overall negative rating based on the evaluation of a single performance objective.
    • Central Tendency – The tendency to avoid rating professional staff members at the high and low extremes.
    • Impressions – The tendency to rate a professional staff member on the basis of impressions and gut feelings rather than on concrete, observable examples.
    • 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 a meeting between the manager and professional staff member to discuss the review. The manager should provide the professional staff member with a copy of his or her evaluation before the meeting so they can review it prior to the discussion. Then, in the meeting:

  • Review Performance Goals, Competencies and Shared Values.
  • Discuss themes and overall performance rating.
  • Address career development and opportunities.
  • Ask and answer questions about expectations.

Challenging Performance Conversations

  • Complete the Managing Performance Issues session in-person or online to learn more about holding performance improvement conversations.
  • Manager should consult with their HR Business Partner as soon as a performance issue is known.
  • Prepare in advance:
    • Talking points
    • A document to give the staff member.
  • Acknowledge up front that this is going to be a serious conversation – consider giving employee a few minutes to review first.
  • Focus on themes initially and then give specific examples to support them.
  • Discuss any disconnects between your evaluation and the staff member's self-evaluation (formal or informal).
  • Don't argue over the details of a specific incident – instead refocus on big picture/pattern.
  • Don't impugn intent, such as "not trying" or "don't care" – focus on outcomes or describable behavior.
  • Don't inquire or speculate as to the "why" for the performance deficiency, such as physical or emotional conditional or work-life management.
  • Be careful of providing excuses, such as "probably just as much our fault as yours."
  • Be careful of words that may sound like proxies for bias, such as "not committed" or "too rigid" (of course, make sure no bias!)
  • Avoid absolutes, such as "always" or "never".
  • Avoid hedge words, such as "it appears".
  • Give the staff member an opportunity to talk.
  • Listen
  • Make clear expectations going forward.
    • Monitoring period
    • Check-ins
  • Ask staff member what you can do to support them in making the necessary improvement.
  • Make clear that, while you want to help the staff member succeed, the staff member is responsible for making the necessary improvement.
  • Follow-up – as promised or more often if necessary.
  • Treat staff member with dignity and respect.