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Human Resources & Inclusive Community

Performance Management

Performance Management

Performance Planning: Goal Setting

The first step in the Performance Management process is Performance Planning.  This is accomplished by setting goals.  Here are some resources to help in writing effective goals.

Why is goal setting important?  Watch this video for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions related to Goal Setting

Why are we focusing on goals now instead of job duties?

Our community asked for the opportunity to focus on their development, so we responded by building a process that incorporated Goals and Job Duties, along with Competences. By setting goals at the top of the year (October), supervisor and employees can meet during the rest of the performance plan year, i.e. in March/April and June/July to track progress toward those goals in preparation for final review in the fall. 

What is goal setting?

Goal setting is an outcome based approach to performance management, and is the first step in our new performance review process. This approach has been strongly supported by Senior leadership at the University and was discussed in the focus group sessions Human Resources facilitated with community members regarding their needs and desires with respect to a performance management system.

How do I write a goal?

When setting goals, please use the SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Related and Timelines) methodology. SMART goals are:

  • Specific when identifying exactly what the employee hopes to accomplish;
  • Measurable when they can be evaluated to determine if they have been met;
  • Attainable when they are not overly lofty, but within reach of the employee;
  • Results-based on accomplishment and align with organizational, departmental and job specific objectives;
  • and have Timelines (deadlines) to be measured against

Example SMART goal:
By June 1, 2015, implement a new performance management system for appointed staff using a clearly defined process and guidelines so employees and supervisors can more competently evaluate performance and develop skills for their current jobs and careers.

What is a goal as it relates to my job at DU?

See the list of sample SMART goals on the Leading and Learning page of the HR website.

How many goals do I need to have?

The minimum number of goals is four. Every employee, at all levels, must set at least two goals for themselves and will be given at least two goals from their supervisor. The total number of goals an individual has should not exceed eight. The number is prescribed to help create realistic expectations for supervisors and employees to focus their efforts toward their unit goals and objectives.

I am a supervisor; how many goals do I need to give my direct reports?

The minimum number of goals a supervisor should cascade down to each of their direct reports is two. Many goals you create for your employees may be goals that will be shared by several people on your team.

What is the difference between suggested and prescribed goals?

Suggested goals are a proposed by the supervisor to be decided upon jointly between them. Prescribed goals are determined by the University, a division or department or the specific employee's supervisor.

Can we modify cascaded goals?

Cascaded goals generally are not modified unless changing division/department requirements necessitate a change. 

What are cascaded goals?

Cascaded goals are goals that a supervisor creates and "cascades" down to their direct reports. They can be either suggested or prescribed.

What is the difference between departmental goals and individual goals?

Departmental goals are set by senior leadership for the entire department to include in their goal plan. Individual goals are set by the individual employee and discussed with their supervisor to include on their goal plan.

What is an organizational goal?

This would be a goal shared by the whole DU community or in support of the University's priorities. These are typically set organization wide by senior leadership.

Who determines when the goals are met? If you complete all your goals early what is the next step?

You and your supervisor will specify in the goal detail the specific criteria that signify goal completion. If you have questions, please discuss them with your supervisor so that the two of you have the same expectations. Throughout the plan year you can mark progress or completion by using the sliding progress bar in the goal detail section of each goal.

Final goal review will occur during the annual appraisal and we will provide instructions for these tasks then. Your supervisor will assign new goals for 2016 following the completion of this year's annual appraisal in the fall.

When are these goals to be assessed?

Goal progress can be marked and assessed throughout the year, and we suggest quarterly check-ins with your supervisor. The planned schedule for these check-in meetings, once the complete system is in operation will be March and June. More can be scheduled based on departmental needs and preferences of the supervisor and employee. Overall performance will be assessed during your annual appraisal this fall. The plan this year is to launch the goal process and incorporate it into the annual appraisal.

Will we be getting goals assigned over the course of the year or just now?

Each year there will be a period in the beginning of the performance plan year (typically November – December) to set new or continue with existing goals. Goals can be added throughout the year if department priorities or job duties change.

How do I edit a goal?

Login in to Performance, click on "My Goals", then in the dropdown menu click "Reopen Plan", edit the goals and then will need to send them for supervisor approval again.

How do I copy a goal from last year?

You can copy goals from last year into this year's goals by logging in to Performance, clicking on "My Goals", then use the drop down menu, "Select a previous year" at the top of the page and select a previous year. To the right of each goal there is another dropdown menu under "Actions" where you can select "Copy Goal to..." and then choose the current plan year.