Yale Performance Management

Performance Management

Performance Management at Yale is the annual process to align the needs of the University with the skills, interests, and abilities of managerial and professional employees. All clerical and technical employees and their supervisors are expected to participate in the annual process, although the salary increments are contractually determined. Some departments may have an established schedule different from that for managerial and professional employees. Please direct any additional questions to your department manager. 

Coaching and feedback are central to the performance management process. The manager helps the employee identify and leverage strengths and determine areas for improvement. When employees learn about their strengths and areas for development, they are able to make better decisions to grow their career.

Performance Management Cycle

In Goal Setting, the manager and employee plan for the year and describe what will be accomplished and how it will be achieved. They discuss how each goal links to department.

Goals describe “what success looks like” both in terms of what will be accomplished and how it will be achieved.

At the beginning of the fiscal year, managers and employees discuss priorities for the upcoming performance period—either during or shortly after performance reviews.

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 to align individual goals with those of the organization.

Together, managers and employees create specific performance and developmental goals for the year based on:

  • Employee’s role expectations, job responsibilities, and development objectives
  • Manager’s priorities and goals
  • Department and University priorities and goals

Tools and Resources

Effective goals clearly define expectations for “what” and “how” work is expected to be accomplished. They are developed with the employees and include development and learning objectives.

A goal describes:

  1. What action you will take? (process or deliverable)
  2. For whom? (client, stakeholder)
  3. Why is it important? (purpose)
  4. When you will do it? (timeframe)

The SMART model is a popular goal-setting tool and it is easy to remember. Each letter in the word “SMART” represents a key element of a complete and actionable goal:

  • S – Specific: Is the goal explained with enough detail that it can be well understood by those involved in its completion and by any stakeholders?
  • M – Measurable: How will those involved in completing the goal know it has been accomplished and how will stakeholders determine its success?
  • A – Attainable: Is the goal attainable or feasible given the resources available?
  • R – Relevant: Does the goal align with, support, or advance the organization’s vision, mission, values, principles, and strategies?
  • T – Time bound: Does the goal have a target date for completion?

Though useful because of its simplicity, relying solely on the SMART model for goal-setting may result in a goal lacking in critical details, or the goal may be too rigid, inhibiting creative ideas or flexibility to adjust achieve a better outcome than originally intended.

To record and track the status of goals, we recommend employees and managers consider using the sample goal sheet.

One of the most useful parts of the performance management process is the mid-year review in January.

This formal feedback check-in at the beginning of the calendar year continues to build a shared understanding of goals and expectations between the manager and employee and prevents surprises at the year-end performance review.

The mid-year review provides an opportunity to reinforce progress toward goals set earlier in the year, refocus and provide coaching for efforts that have not yet produced results, and to respond to changes and adjust goals and priorities as needed.

Especially in periods of rapid change, goals set at the beginning of the annual cycle may need to shift, making way for new priorities critical to the organization.

In July, the manager and employee meet to review and assess the past year’s achievements, what was accomplished and how, and, in some cases, to begin to outline next year’s goals. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a shared understanding of the employee’s performance strengths and areas for development and to discuss the manager’s rating of results against goals and expectations for the year.

Self-Assessment & Client Feedback

The employee’s summary of the year’s accomplishments is an important source of input to the assessment. In March, employees are asked to prepare a self-assessment to share with their manager in April.

By reviewing and documenting how they have used their skills, how their work contributed to the larger organization, and the areas of growth and challenge, the employee prepares to actively engage with their manager in the performance review conversation.

In addition to the self-assessment, the employee is asked for a list of clients and colleagues with whom they’ve worked and that the manager may contact for performance feedback. The manager contacts those references and collects feedback for a more complete view of the employee’s performance.

Performance Review

The manager uses the client performance feedback, the employee’s self-assessment, and their own observations to support a fair and objective evaluation of the employee’s performance. Performance ratings are assigned by the manager per goal or objective once all information has been gathered and evaluated. The manager also assigns an overall performance rating for the year that reflects what the employee has achieved against their goals and how they accomplished those results.

Timeline for fy22 Length Performance Feedback and Management Process
March 21 – April 8 3 weeks

Manager requests self-assessment and list of clients to provide holistic feedback.

Employee sends a list of clients for feedback and then completes self-assessment and submits by April 8th.

April 1 –  April 15 2 weeks Lead Administrators and HRGs review the salary planner list and send changes to the ESC.
April 9 – May 1 3 weeks

Manager collects feedback from employee’s list of colleagues and clients.

Manager rates employee.

Manager writes initial performance appraisal (continues refining until employee meeting) and rates employee.

May 2 – May 22 4 weeks

The staff merit pre- planning tool opens May 2nd.

Manager works with their supervisor and HRG to calibrate ratings, merit increases and finalize appraisals.

May 23 – June 17*
*there will be one week of overlap of entry and university review
4 weeks

Workday Merit opens May 23rd. Merit recommendations are entered into Workday. Merit closes on June 17th.

Manager begins drafting next fiscal year’s goals for discussion with their own manager and staff.

June 10 – July 1 3 weeks Ratings and merit are reviewed and approved by HR and University leadership (access to merit tool for HR only 6/18-7/2).
July 2 – July 29 1 month Manager and employee meet to discuss FY22 performance results and merit.
July 29   M&P salary changes and ratings are visible in Workday.
August   Manager and employee meet to discuss new fiscal year goals and expectations.

Tools and Resources

Consider the following questions as you complete your assessment:

  • What were your high-level objectives (3 –5 broad goals or aims) for last year?
  • What groups did you partner with in achieving your goals?
  • How far along are you (and your team) on each of these objectives?
  • How has your work gone since you set goals?
  • What accomplishments are you most proud of?
  • What did you achieve? (results)
  • How did you accomplish them? (behaviors)
  • What were your biggest challenges?
  • What would you say is your most important or significant contribution?

As managers prepare to deliver performance ratings, they should consider the following:

  • How well did the employee perform based on identified accountabilities? These are the focus areas typically defined in the employee’s job or role description.
  • Did the employee meet their goals? Goals were established during the goal setting process and reinforced during ongoing coaching and feedback conversations, as well as at the mid-year review.
  • To what extent were objectives achieved? Results should be evaluated based on what was accomplished (including quality, quantity, and time) and how the goal was achieved (observed behavioral skills and effectiveness of those skills).
  • How does the self-assessment, feedback from references, and input from past coaching and feedback sessions reflect on employee performance?

Numerical ratings are attached to each category so that each goal area can be valued and counted toward a rating for overall performance during the year.

  • Exceptional: Performance noticeably exceeded expectations and made a unique contribution to the University, School or Department objectives. Individuals who achieve this performance rating are recognized by higher levels of management, their peers, and staff that report to them, as “stand out” performers. This rating is typically awarded only to the top 10-20% of all Yale employees and is reserved for the very best performer(s) for the year.
  • Met/exceeded Expectations: Performance consistently met or exceeded Yale’s high standards and expectations. All critical annual goals were achieved. Individuals who achieve this performance rating are widely recognized as a strong and valued contributor. Generally, 70% to 80% of Yale employees will fall into this category.
  • Needs Improvement: Performance often met, but did not consistently meet, position expectations. One (or more) of the most critical annual objectives was not met. Incumbents who receive this performance rating need further coaching and development to fully meet position expectations or are sometimes new to their position.  On average, approximately 10% of Yale employees fall into this category.
  • Unsatisfactory: Performance was below expectations in essential areas of responsibility, with key goals and objectives missed.  The contribution of individuals who receive this performance rating is typically below that of peers or incumbents in comparable positions. Less than 5% of Yale employees fall into this category.

At Yale, performance is evaluated in terms of results—the “what,” and behaviors—the “how.”

A reference guide is available to support managers and employees in defining the types of behaviors, groups of knowledge, and skills and abilities that are critical in determining how results will be achieved. Included in this guide are the competencies most often identified by schools and units across the University as 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 and employees are encouraged to set goals using the behavioral descriptions.

For a full list of skill descriptions, see the Behavioral Competencies Information Guide.

Competency Definition Competency Cluster
Informing Provides the information people need to know to do their jobs and supports their ability to be a contributing member of the team, unit, and/or the organization; provides information timely so that others can make accurate and appropriate decisions. Communicate Effectively
Oral & Written Communications Effectively expresses information to multiple audiences through clear, convincing oral and written communications; demonstrates logical thinking when describing facts and concepts, and shapes communications to meet the needs of a specific audience; actively listens to others and demonstrates understanding of various comments, questions, and opinions of others. Communicate Effectively
Conflict Management Is controlled under pressure and when times are difficult, handles challenging situations with a calm and practical approach. Is seen as someone who can be a settling influence during a crisis. Mitigates challenges and can help others reach equitable agreements with little to no conflict, settling on common ground. Communicate Effectively
Customer Service Consistently demonstrates respect, responsiveness, professionalism and effectiveness while providing superior service for customers. Develops deep understanding of customer needs and advances the University’s reputation for excellence. Assures customers that meeting their needs is a priority and represents the University . Performs duties at a level above and beyond what is expected. Encourages customer feedback and keeps customers informed on matters of interest. Customer Focus
Peer Relationships & Partnering Develops networks and builds alliances; collaborates across boundaries to build strategic relationships and achieve common goals. Can quickly find common ground and solve problems for the good of all; can represent his/her own interests and yet be fair to other groups; can solve problems with peers with a minimum of noise; is seen as a team player and is cooperative; easily gains trust and support of peers; encourages collaboration; can be candid with peers. Collaboration & Teamwork
Interpersonal Skills & Savvy Considers and responds appropriately to the needs, feelings, and capabilities of all constituents - peers, subordinates, and leaders. Gains cooperation across the organization to obtain information and accomplish goals, including managing disagreements in a constructive way to bring issues to positive resolve. Works diligently to relate well to all individuals both in and out of the organization, representing Yale positively, building appropriate rapport. Uses diplomacy and tact to further understand situations and people for the benefit of collaboration and teamwork. Collaboration & Teamwork
Promotes Belonging Listens carefully and displays sensitivity with people and issues, focusing on how best to leverage individual backgrounds as strengths. Makes a point of being inclusive and finds ways to take advantage of people’s different experiences to strengthen the situation, unit, or team. Will challenge bias and intolerance and will hold others to a high standard. Sees diversity as an opportunity, creating an environment where others can thrive and explore the breadth of intellectual curiosity. Champions Integrity
Demonstrate Respect, Integrity and Character Demonstration of high ethical standards and behaviors Champions Integrity
Achieve Outstanding Results Drive for results by holding oneself and others accountable, persisting in the face of obstacles and doing everything possible to contribute to strategic goals. Results Orientation
Prioritization Balances competing priorities to meet all project and commitments in a timely manner and delivers quality results. Spends his/her time and the time of others on what is important and quickly focuses on the critical elements of work that remains important rather than focuses on what may not be adding significant value to a project or objective. Helps to eliminate roadblocks with work and assists with delivering the end result by keeping focused, keeping others around him/her focused, and delivering a work product. Results Orientation
Planning & Organizing Can accurately scope out the length and difficulty of tasks and projects and can set objectives and timelines appropriately. Can properly break down work into process steps and establish schedules and assignments, anticipating and adjusting for problems or roadblocks. Understands the criticality of measuring performance against goals and evaluating results. Allocates the appropriate amount of resources needed to get things done and uses them effectively and efficiently. Results Orientation
Takes Initiative A resourceful self-started that can develop new ideas and methods collaboratively or independently to enhance the department, work unit, or University. Proactively and passionately goes beyond what is expected by taking on new challenges, accomplishing results, and following through on commitments. Volunteers for challenging assignments and is not afraid to step up to situations. Proactively recognizes and takes responsibility for solving problems while accepting accountability. Results Orientation
Creativity Establishes unique and new ideas and can easily make connections amongst unrelated concepts. Is original and is seen as a value-added participant in brainstorming settings. Results Orientation
Inspire and Develop Demonstration of high enthusiasm and motivation while encouraging self and others to stretch, learn and reach ambitious goals. Building Capability
Learning Agility Makes an effort to improve based on feedback received from others and actively looks for opportunities to gather feedback to improve themselves. Creates an atmosphere of continual improvement in which they quickly adapt their approach in response to people’s needs or the situation based on feedback given. Building Capability
Self Development Acquires new knowledge and skills that contribute to individual and organizational growth, and which may also contribute to career development. Knows personal strengths and development opportunities and seeks insights from balanced performance and career conversations to design their own personal develop plans. Practices diligence with executing self-development. Building Capability
Champions Change Recognizes situations where change is needed and is willing to become the champion for it. Open to new and different ways of approaching work to solve problems and create opportunities. Demonstrates courage to make changes for improvement. Change Leadership
Process Management Aligns processes with organizational priorities and can design and implement workflows that move work forward through resources. Can establish appropriate metrics for measurement, creates synergies and integrations where necessary, and can simplify processes and maximize resource allocations. Change Leadership
Be Innovative Generating and encouraging creative and resourceful ideas and solutions at every position and level. Leadership & Strategic Vision
Analytical Reasoning Analyze information to establish accurate conclusion based on detail. Uses logic and judgement to evaluate to develop solutions. Leadership & Strategic Vision
Strategic Thinking Formulates effective approaches driving the objectives, vision, and competitive strategy of the organization. Applies knowledge, planning, coordination, and execution of business/ technical functions or resource allocation when examining issues and priorities. Takes a long-term view to recognize opportunities, impact, and to set priorities for a broad organizational perspective. Leadership & Strategic Vision
Technical Ability Demonstrates understanding of objectives, duties, responsibilities and expectations required of the job. Anticipates change and keeps current with informational and technological enhancements to meet new challenges. Job Knowledge & Technical Skill

The University is committed to recognizing employees’ contributions and rewarding them through merit pay for performance. Managers base annual merit compensation decisions on the performance management cycle of goal setting, mid-year review, and year-end performance assessment. The cycle’s framework is designed to create a shared understanding of expectations and performance. For both the manager and the employee, the year-end assessment is a summary of the year’s coaching and feedback conversations and should never be a surprise.

Each July, managers meet with employees to review the manager’s assessment rating and merit compensation.

Tools and Resources

Yale encourages managers to consider low-cost or nonmonetary forms of recognition to show employees that they are valued and appreciated despite the current salary freeze. Consider the following ways you can show recognition:

  • Ensure that employees are aware of employee development programs and allow employees time to take advantage of Signature and WorkLife programs.
  • Give verbal recognition in a public setting such as during a team meeting.
  • Thank employees with a card or note (including higher levels of leadership).
  • Host virtual activities or events that are just for fun, such as simple games or times for employees to socialize while still in the work setting.
  • Celebrate milestone events (both for the department and individual employees) such as birthdays, work anniversaries, and major project completions.
  • Allow individuals to have more input in the projects they work on, either by allowing them to pick their next project or allowing them to hand off their least favorite project. 

Human Resources determines guidelines for merit increases each year, based on available funds, rating levels and the position in range of the current salary. Managers make recommendations for merit increases based on the overall performance rating they have assigned and applying the Classification and Compensation department guidelines.


  • Performance assessments are evaluated and approved by the manager’s manager before being shared with the employee.
  • This review keeps the leader informed on individual contributions and helps balance rating across the department and minimize distortion in rating.

Once approved, the manager delivers and discusses the performance assessment, performance rating, and merit recommendation. This is an important and often challenging dialogue between an employee and manager. Tools are available on the Learn and Grow website to help managers prepare on this conversation.

This may also be the time that new objectives and goals for the coming year begin to be discussed and plans formulate on how to prepare for the next fiscal year’s cycle.