Performance Management

FY22 Performance Management Update

With remote work arrangements still in place for many employees due to sustained COVID-19 business impacts, this tip sheet for managers is available to assist with FY22 goal planning for staff.

The University's approach to performance management is based on the understanding that regular, meaningful conversations between managers and employees lead to better results and higher engagement for everyone. All administrative/professional and support staff at Harvard are encouraged to meet with their managers as frequently as they choose to discuss their work priorities, performance, and developmental needs and aspirations. Managers are expected to proactively schedule and structure these meetings throughout the year to minimize the stress associated with one-time, high stakes, end-of-year performance appraisals.

Annual Planning Cycle

Although it varies across schools and departments, in general the annual performance management process coincides with the fiscal/academic year and looks like this:


What Happens



Typically toward the beginning of the fiscal year, managers and staff sit down to discuss goals and priorities for the upcoming performance period and then document their conversations in the performance management section of PeopleSoft. Ideally, before these conversations occur, departments and teams have set and communicated goals for the year ahead. This makes it easier for managers and employees to discuss how individual priorities and goals align with those of the organization.



The PeopleSoft system allows managers to optionally select competencies for discussion (how work gets done) along with their employees' priorities and goals (what work gets done). Schools and units may choose to identify specific competencies that they consider essential to every employee's performance and impact. Independent of, or in addition to, any school- or unit-wide competencies that have been identified, managers may, in consultation with their employees, select competencies important to their specific role – or they can opt not to include defined competencies in the performance management process.


Mid-Year/Ongoing Conversation

Ongoing manager/employee conversations – with some schools and units requiring a mid-year discussion – are conducted as frequently as necessary to sustain a high level of clarity in support of employees' success and the best organizational outcomes. Managers and employees may record as many conversations as they wish, using PeopleSoft to share their notes with each other.



At any point during the performance period, schools and units may opt to conduct a feedback process in which employees can nominate and managers can select key stakeholders to offer their perspective on the quality and impact of the employee's work. Feedback can be gathered using the 360° tool in PeopleSoft or simply by gathering comments via email that can be summarized and then cut and pasted into the PeopleSoft system.




At the end of the performance period, managers and employees meet to discuss progress made as well as any changes that may have shifted the priorities and goals discussed at the beginning of the performance period. This last conversation is also documented in PeopleSoft following the conversation.


The University uses a qualitative ratings system that allows managers to assess employees' impact for purposes of making annual compensation decisions that can include merit increases and bonuses. At the end of each performance period, managers are asked to rate their employees' impact, using the following levels and definitions.

Compensation decisions for employees represented by a union follow the corresponding contractual agreement in effect.

Exceptional Impact

Contributions have significant and consistently exceptional impact and value to the department and/or the organization. Makes unique, often one-time achievements that measurably advance progress towards organizational goals and/or result in major improvements. Easily recognized as a role model by high-performing peers. Viewed as an excellent resource to provide expertise, guidance, advice, mentorship or support to others. Demonstrates a range of high-level competencies and actively takes on higher levels of responsibility.

Full/Consistent Impact

Consistently demonstrates meaningful impact through accomplishments and contributions. This level of impact is reflective of a fully qualified, competent and experienced individual in this role. Viewed as someone who gets the job done and effectively prioritizes work and produces strong results. Contributes positively to the overall objectives of the department and/or the larger organization. Achieves valuable accomplishments in several important areas of the job and/or on assigned projects.


Needs to gain proficiency and/or productivity in the position to achieve consistent impact. May achieve some, but not all goals. Stronger or additional knowledge, skills and abilities need to be demonstrated for consistent success in the roles.

This rating is recommended for use when an employee is still coming up to speed with their job responsibilities based on limited tenure in the role. 

Needs Improvement

The quality of performance is below expectation for the role. Knowledge, skills, abilities and/or productivity have not been demonstrated at the appropriate levels.

Help and Resources

If you have any questions, your local Human Resources office can provide more information, support, and access to training.

Please click below to explore additional resources produced by the Center for Workplace Development, Faculty of Arts and Sciences HR and other training providers that will help you have more effective and satisfying performance conversations.

Center for Workplace Development Classes

Online Resources

Performance and Feedback Conversations

High Impact Development Conversations

Practical Tips for Coaching Conversations

When Performance Conversations are Challenging

Making Feedback Work

Feedback Essentials

Reference Guides

Coaching as Conversation: A Guide for Managers

Owning Your Own Performance Management: A Guide for All

Coaching Conversation Preparation Sheet (from CWD)