Performance Management

GW’s Performance Management (PM) process provides a framework that creates a high performing organization and supports professional development. The PM process helps you receive performance recognition and feedback.

The PM process engages you actively in a way that positions you for growth and is based on:

  • Encouraging a culture of ongoing coaching, feedback and recognition
  • Setting goals and expectations that motivate
  • Planning for professional development
  • Advocating for recognition and growth through balanced self-assessment
  • Evaluating past performance and clarifying expectations for the future
  • Creating an ongoing dialogue between employees and their managers by revisiting goals and performance expectations frequently throughout the year

Make the most of the process by exploring each of the major process components and using the associated resources.

Key Dates & Timeframes

Managers and employees should meet throughout the year as well as at performance checkpoints not only for ongoing coaching and feedback but also to review goals and expectations. In addition, the annual performance review process enables employees and managers to discuss performance, clarify expectations, and agree on priorities for the upcoming year.

Most areas of the university fall into two performance year cycles:

  • July 1 – June 30 (Fiscal) or
  • September 1 – August 31 (Fall)

Contact your HR representative to determine your cycle.

Who to Contact with questions

The HR representative for your division or school will instruct managers of new employees to meet with the employee at appropriate points during the introductory employment period. Your HR representative will ensure that proper compliance with performance review guidelines have been followed and collect all appropriate paperwork. Please contact the HR representative for your division or school with any questions.

The Performance Manangement Process

Watch the 30 minute "Making the Most of the Performance Review Process" webinar for tips and resources on how to make the process work for you. The webinar, designed for both managers and individual contributors, will help make your review process productive and effective.


The Introductory Employment Period (IEP) is the first 6 months of employment following your hire, transfer, or promotion into a GW benefited staff position (including research staff). During this period, your performance will be evaluated and your manager will conduct an Introductory Performance Review (DOC) prior to your 6th month in your new position. Follow the guidance below to optimize your performance during the IEP.

Performance Management during the Introductory Employment Period

First 30 days

  • Carefully review your job description with your manager to clarify roles and responsibilities. Discuss what your priorities will be during the IEP.
  • Engage your manager in regular communication to clarify the performance expectations of your position. Use the Clarifying Expectations tool (DOC) to align expectations.
  • Review GW’s key performance factors to understand the competencies critical to your success.
  • Use the GW Values as a framework for decision-making and behavioral conduct.
  • Follow the guidance in the “Learn” section of the “Preparing for Your First Day” and “In Your First 30 Days” webpages.

First 90 days

  • Schedule an informal discussion with your manager around day 90 (halfway through the introductory employment period) to discuss your progress toward meeting performance expectations.

First 6 months

  • Continue to engage your manager in regular communication about your performance. Solicit coaching, feedback, and recognition to establish a culture of continuous improvement.
  • At the end of the 6 month period, your manager will complete an Introductory Performance Review (DOC) and discuss your performance with you. Prior to the discussion your manager may ask you to complete a self-assessment as part of the review. Your manager will formally communicate whether or not you have successfully completed the introductory employment period.
  • Your manager will submit the final review document to your HR representative. Make sure to keep a copy for yourself.

After Successful Completion of the IEP

  • Initiate the annual performance management process by collaborating with your manager to set goals. Use the Goal Agreement (DOC) and follow the guidance in the Goal Setting tab.

If you need additional guidance, please contact your HR representative or Workplace Learning & Development at [email protected].

Ongoing coaching is at the core of good performance. Use the following strategies to facilitate a culture of continuous improvement:

  • Partner with your manager and/or staff to clarify and manage expectations. In addition to communicating what tasks must get done, focus on how work should be performed using the Clarifying Expectations Tool (DOC).
  • Set appropriate goals and manage them throughout the year using performance checkpoints.
  • Provide and solicit feedback on a regular basis. Commit to taking action on feedback you receive.
  • Recognize individual and team successes. Take advantage of opportunities to provide both formal and informal recognition using the recognition toolkit.

Who is responsible for coaching?

You are. Make sure you are receiving the coaching you need or, if you are a part of GW’s management team, that you are coaching your staff to be successful.

Goal Setting

Setting goals and priorities at the beginning of each performance cycle builds the foundation for successful performance. It is a collaborative process between you and your manager. You initiate the process by completing a Goal Agreement (DOC) and submitting it to your manager for review. Ideally, your goals connect in some way to the GW Values and Strategic Plan, your school or division’s goals, and/or your department or team priorities.

Working through this process helps you clarify what is most important and positions you for an objective review at the end of your cycle.


Using the Goal Agreement form (DOC), document goals related to your top priorities such as new initiatives, projects for the coming year, or aspects of your job description where you will enhance your performance. Goals can target specific service expectations (e.g. returning all customer phone calls within a specified time period) and/or processes that you can improve (e.g. taking responsibility for monthly reporting requirements using newly acquired Excel skills).


Your goals should be SMART

Specific Be specific in the goal description so the deliverable is clear. Avoid generalizing. Use action verbs as much as possible.
Measurable Identify how success will be measured. Common measures include quantity, quality, timeliness, accuracy, etc.

Questions to ask to determine if a goal is attainable:

  • Can I influence the outcome?
  • Are there contingencies outside my control that need to be considered? If yes, what is the strategy to deal with those?
  • Do I have the resources and the time to complete this goal in the context of my other goals and work priorities?
Relevant Goals should be linked to the higher-level team, department, Division/School goals, and/or the GW Strategic Plan. This provides context and ensures that goals and actions contribute to the bigger picture.
Time-bound Each goal needs to have due dates. For more complex deliverables, set milestones. Milestones are particularly effective when they are measurable.


How many goals should each person set?


We suggest no more than five goals. The exact number should be linked to the number of key priorities that need to be accomplished during the performance period. This does not mean there will not be other important work to accomplish during the year, but the goals outlined and maintained in the Goal Agreement form (DOC) need to represent your overall top priorities.

Differentiate Goals, Job Responsibilities, and Professional Development


Job Responsibilities and Goals

Job responsibilities are the established, recurring duties and job requirements for your position. Goals are set annually and describe your top priorities, such as new initiatives and projects for the coming year. Goals may also be related to enhancing your performance in key areas of your job.

Common types of goals are:

  • To increase something (satisfaction, retention, effectiveness)
  • To make something (documents, reports, presentations)
  • To improve something (processes, results, relationships)
  • To reduce something (risk, expenses, waste)
  • To save something (time, money, space, energy)


Goals and Professional Development

Your goals are work-related priorities. They define what must get done. Your Professional Development Plan (PDP) includes your developmental priorities and how you will get the work done more effectively.

  • If the feedback is related to what will be done over the next year, it should be noted in the Goal Agreement (DOC).
  • If the feedback is regarding how you need to do your job, the actions related to this feedback should be recorded in the PDP in the performance review form (DOC).
  • For example, learning something new provides for how the work gets done, so it would be included in a PDP. Taking a class or maintaining a certification falls in this category. The application of a new skill to achieve an end result, however, describes what work is being done, and it should therefore be included as a goal.


  • "Take an Excel class to learn advanced skills." This would be included in a PDP because the objective is to develop a new skill but not to apply it to a specific task. The outcome is not measurable.
  • “Develop and implement a new format for monthly reporting by March 30." This could be included as a goal because the outcome is specific and measurable. If the employee needs to learn advanced Excel skills to accomplish this goal, learning those Excel skills should appear in their PDP.

Manage Your Goals

Review your Goal Agreement (DOC) throughout the year. It is a living document because your priorities may change.

To update your Goal Agreement, capture what you think needs to change and have a discussion with your manager. Ensure that you and your manager are aligned on changes and that you both sign off on any edits.

Use performance checkpoint discussions with your manager as a tool to manage your goals. These discussions should summarize accomplishments to date, identify any goals that were added, eliminated, or changed, review priorities, and clarify performance expectations going forward. Use the Performance Checkpoint section of the Goal Agreement to document progress with your manager.

The Professional Development Plan (PDP) is your guide for job and career growth at GW. You provide input to your PDP in your self-assessment (in the Performance Review Form (DOC)), and your manager finalizes it in the comments section of your performance review.


Tips for providing input to your PDP

  • Begin by highlighting any developmental opportunities you pursued in the past year (WLD Learn Now opportunities, courses, mentoring, professional certifications, etc).
  • Describe what you need for your professional development in the next performance period. Highlight areas where you want to improve and strengths that you want to build on.
  • Tie learning opportunities to goal completion for the upcoming year to validate your suggestions.
  • Be sure to focus on what you need to perform your job effectively, but don’t forget to think about your career development.
  • Reference the using the performance review form tool (PDF) for help writing and/or finalizing PDPs.
  • Remember less is more.

The most important part of this is execution. You benefit most from implementing your PDP. It’s your guide for job and career growth. Use performance checkpoints to hold yourself accountable for progress and share successes.

Your self-assessment is an important source of input that you provide to the annual performance review. You will craft your self-assessment by filling in the "Self-Assessment" fields on the performance review form (DOC).

  • Reference the using the performance review form tool (PDF) to help write and evaluate your self-assessment before emailing it to your manager.
  • Review our guidance on the Professional Development Plan portion of the self-assessment to maximize your growth potential.


Completing your self-assessment gives you the opportunity to advocate for your performance and actively participate in the review process by:

  • Giving you time to reflect on your accomplishments, strengths, challenges, and opportunities for improvement
  • Allowing you to comment on your performance within each of GW’s key performance factor areas
  • Providing a place to communicate your professional and career development needs and interests
  • Increasing your self-knowledge and preparing you to have an effective performance discussion with your manager

Your annual review is an opportunity for recognition and feedback. It enables you to formally capture a snapshot of your performance, clarify expectations, and agree on priorities for the upcoming year.

Watch the 30 minute "Making the Most of the Performance Review Process" webinar for tips and resources on how to make the process work for you. The webinar, designed for both managers and individual contributors, will help make your review process productive and effective.


Key Activities

  1. You initiate the review process by emailing your goal agreement (DOC) and the performance review form (DOC) (with the self-assessment fields completed) to your manager. Please note that research employees should use the research review form (DOC).
  2. Your manager will complete your review and read your goal agreement in preparation for the performance discussion.
  3. To ensure quality and consistency, your manager will obtain a Next Level Approval signature on the review form before the performance discussion takes place.

Managers should access the individual performance page for help clarifying expectations for key performance factors and reference the using the performance review form tool (PDF) for help writing performance reviews.

Next Level Approval

For quality assurance, managers submit completed performance reviews to their Next Level Approver for review and signature prior to performance review discussions with employees. The Next Level Approver ensures accurate and consistent assessment of employee performance for their area of responsibility. Next Level Approvers should use the Next Level Approver checklist (DOC) to assist in reviewing performance reviews.

Watch the Minute Mentor video explaining the role of the Next Level Approver:

The Role of the Next Level Approver

Alicia Knight, Senior Associate Vice President for Operations, shares her tips and experiences for serving as a next-level approver in the performance review process.

Successful discussions about performance are thoughtfully planned, highly interactive, and focus on the future in a way that motivates. Managers should schedule these discussions when performance reviews are complete and signed by Next Level Approvers. After discussions, managers should submit signed reviews to their HR representative.

The annual performance review discussion must include a focus on the year ahead. In fact, we recommend that 65-75% of the time be allocated to looking to the future, discussing goals for the next period, expectations for critical performance factors, and professional development plans.

To make the most of the performance review discussion, you need to prepare. Employees should use the employee checklist (PDF) and managers should use this reviewer checklist (PDF) to help prepare for this important discussion.

Helpful tools for discussions

Managing your performance is a continuous and collaborative process. You and your manager should discuss your performance on a regular basis, not just during the annual review process.

To learn more about performance checkpoints and why they are so important to successful performance management, watch this performance checkpoint overview webinar.

Checkpoint discussions are important because priorities, initiatives, and personnel can change. Regular "check-ins" are critical to your success and provide your manager an opportunity to recognize your contributions. Schedule formal checkpoint discussions throughout the performance cycle.

During these checkpoints:

Ensure that you and your manager are aligned on changes and that you both sign off on edits.