Step 1: Setting Goals & Expectations

The first step in the performance management process involves setting performance expectations between a staff member and their supervisor. Included in the performance expectations are job responsibilities, goal setting, and competencies/behaviors. 

Training Resources

Click on one of the links below to register for an Adobe Connect session to learn how to complete Step One (choose the session that relates to your role within the process):

Training Materials

Job Responsibilities

Job responsibilities cover the most critical tasks and activities an individual is responsible for day-to-day.

A thorough review of job responsibilities ensures that:

  • Individuals understand the most critical day-to-day tasks and activities
  • Tasks and activities are aligned with supervisor, department, and University expectations

Individuals will review their Job Responsibilities Worksheet (JRW) at the beginning of each performance management cycle. If JRW is misaligned to responsibilities/areas of focus, the individual will propose edits. After the individual has completed their review of the JRW, a supervisor will review and approve the JRW to ensure that responsibilities are clearly and appropriately reflected. The supervisor will then use the JRW when evaluating performance throughout the year. If the role has changed drastically, the job will be submitted for a job review for additional approval.


For more information about how to complete your JRW, inlcuding using the online tool, please visit the Compensation and Classification website.

Competencies and Behaviors

Competencies and behaviors cover key skills and traits that help the individual accomplish their job responsibilities and achieve goals for the year.  Including competencies and behaviors in the performance management process allows Penn State to evaluate not only what gets done (i.e., the job responsibilities and goals), but also how it gets done.
Staff employees will have a conversation with their supervisors about the competencies and corresponding behaviors they are expected to exhibit at the beginning of each performance management cycle.

Goal Setting

This portion of  the process focuses on what an individual needs to accomplish to support departmental goals. Use the goal setting worksheet  to help get you started.

Goal setting ensures Penn State:

  • Aligns groups, departments, and individuals to University strategy and goals
  • Reflects on how individual roles support the mission of Penn State
  • Gives clarity and focus to daily work
  • Sets the stage for value-added conversations around performance
  • Identifies opportunities for development and improvement
  • Makes evaluations more objective

Staff employees will set goals after reviewing University and department goals and confirming job responsibilities with supervisor.

Individuals will identify 2-5 goals for each performance cycle. At least one goal should support department/unit goals and one goal should support ongoing job responsibilities/professional development

Supervisors should set at least one goal reflecting their supervisory-specific responsibilities such as helping their direct report set relevant goals and having development conversations with their staff each year

Goals may be accomplished over several years, however, only the portion of the goal for the selected performance year should be included in the current year.

Individuals will document the following for each goal:

  • Goal description
  • Metrics/what success looks like
  • Action steps to achieve goal
  • Resources needed to achieve goal
  • Target completion date

Once employees have drafted their goals, supervisors will have a conversation with employees to review their goals. Note: This can also be done in conjunction with the meeting to discuss and clarify job responsibilities. In areas where staff members have similar positions, the same goal can be used for all individuals if appropriate. The supervisor will then use these goals when evaluating performance throughout the year.

The majority of units, colleges and campuses have five-year strategic plans in place for 2015-16 through 2019-2020.   This is an opportunity to help ensure that individual goals are aligned with department goals and ultimately, Penn State’s goals as well.

For more information about Penn State's strategic planning process (including access to the current University and Unit strategic plans) and to learn more about the imperatives set forth by Dr. Barron-- visit the Office of Institutional Planning and Assessment website: