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What are the Manager’s Responsibilities in the Performance-Planning Phase of the Process?

The manager has six primary responsibilities. Four of them you’ll work on before the meeting with the individual. The other two you’ll accomplish during the meeting.

Before the Meeting

1. Review the organization’s mission statement, or vision and values, and your own department’s goals. 2. Read the individual’s job description. Think about the goals and objectives the person needs to achieve in the upcoming appraisal period. 3. Identify the most important competencies that you expect the individual to demonstrate in performing the job. 4. Determine what you consider to be fully successful performance in each area.

During the Meeting

5. Discuss and come to agreement with the individual on the most important competencies, key position responsibilities, and goals.

6. Discuss and come to agreement on the individual’s development plan.

Tell Me More

Most of the work involved in effective performance planning happens in advance of the actual meeting. Before the meeting begins, the manager and the individual should each review the documents that will provide a big-picture perspective: the company’s mission statement; the corporate vision and values statement, if there is one; the organization’s strategic goals for the upcoming year; the department or division goals; and the individual’s job description. The manager needs to think about the goals the individual needs to accomplish over the upcoming twelve months and the important competencies or behaviors the manager expects the individual to display in her performance.

If the manager hasn’t already set goals for the department, the time to do it is before the planning meeting begins. Once the manager has identified goals for the whole department, he can ask each subordinate to set individual goals that help ensure that the overall department goals will be met.

Few organizations have job descriptions that would qualify as models of excellence. But no matter how good or bad your job descriptions are, they may be useful sources of data to indicate areas where the individual needs to concentrate attention over the course of the year.

During the meeting the manager will discuss the goals for the department and the company as a whole. He needs to work with the individual to set important, measurable, and meaningful goals that will help accomplish the department’s and the organization’s mission. Therefore it’s important to walk into the meeting with some specific ideas for areas in which the individual should consider setting goals. The manager and the subordinate then review the most important parts of the individual’s job and talk about which responsibilities are the most critical to success.

The goals and key responsibilities comprise the ‘‘what’’ of the job: the results, outcomes, or products. But just producing results isn’t the complete story. The other part is the ‘‘how’’ of the job: the behaviors, competencies, or performance factors. Once the goals and responsibilities have been identified and reviewed, the appraiser and appraisee will need to talk about how the job will be done. If the company has identified core competencies that it expects every employee to display, reviewing these will allow the manager and the individual to identify the ones that are of particular importance in the individual’s specific job. If the company hasn’t formally identified competencies, then it’s up to the manager to talk about what behaviors and skills and attributes she will be looking for in the individual’s performance. The manager should begin the meeting having thought through how she wants the job to be done.

Along with discussing the how and the what of the job—competencies and results—they will also need to talk about how the individual’s performance will be measured. The manager needs to describe what level of performance she will consider to be ‘‘fully successful.’’ When the subordinate asks, ‘‘Boss, what will I need to do in order to get a good rating?’’ the manager needs to be prepared to respond.

The final premeeting preparation the manager needs to engage in is thinking about the subordinate’s development needs. While creating and executing a development plan is the individual’s responsibility, the manager needs to be prepared with suggestions on areas where development will have a payoff.

If the manager is well prepared, then forty-five to sixty minutes should be sufficient to discuss key responsibilities, set goals, discuss competencies, talk about how performance will be measured, and review the individual’s ideas about plans for development.