Frequently Asked Questions for Supervisors

General Information

The Performance Planning component of the process is vital to successful performance management. This documented step allows for greater clarity of expectations on the front end, decreased misunderstandings and increased accountability and reporting throughout the year.
There are several options available. All supervisors of support staff are required to take the Performance Excellence Supervisor Training, which is online and accessed through elevateU. There are also a number of support tools on this site and other skill building programs available through elevateU and Professional Development Services. Go to the Training page and the Support Tools page for more detail. Also, your HR unit representative may be able to provide additional suggestions or guidance.

Performance Planning

Performance goals help to define what is expected of employees in their current position in relation to the department and/or unit’s overall goals. An Individual Development Plan outlines opportunities for professional development and/or career growth. Together these goals help us manage and assess the work to be done, as well as identify opportunities for ongoing professional growth and development at MSU.
The typical range is 2-4 goals, but this can vary.
SMART goals are the following:
  • Specific: well defined, clear and unambiguous
  • Measurable: define specific criteria for measuring progress toward accomplishing each goal
  • Achievable: require staff members to stretch, but are not impossible, to achieve
  • Relevant: related to the department’s mission and/or a specific project or program
  • Timely: clearly defined time frame or progress is tracked at regular intervals
The use of the SMART goal format is encouraged because it helps supervisors and staff members identify and define meaningful, measurable goals. It is also helpful if goals are related to the department’s mission and/or a specific project or program.
Yes. There may be situations where a group of employees with the same job title, responsibilities, duties, etc., have some goals that are the same. The opposite is true as well. You may have two employees with the same job title, but they have very different strengths and you may want to focus their goals differently. A blend of the two approaches may be ideal for employees who have very similar work tasks.

Feedback, Coaching and Development

Feedback doesn’t always have to be formal and time consuming. It can be a simple, specific comment (“it’s great how you went out of your way to help that student today!”) or acknowledgement (“thank you for helping out without even being asked”). Of course you need to be engaged with your workgroup to notice these things, but the result can be very powerful and reinforces behaviors you’d like to see repeated. When giving constructive feedback, be sure to do it privately and objectively. While it does take some time to provide meaningful feedback, doing so usually ends up saving time in the way of fewer misunderstandings, less rework, and fewer performance problems that continue or grow because they haven’t been addressed.
The pace of change in today’s world means that skills become outdated very quickly. When this happens, we don’t work efficiently and time is wasted. As a learning institution, we need to support the ongoing skill development of our staff, which in turn supports our effort to be a high-performance organization.
Yes, in addition to reviewing the staff member’s goals, the mid-year conversation is an ideal time to address other areas of a staff member’s performance. You should reiterate expectations if necessary, discuss significant changes in roles and responsibilities, or discuss any other matter impacting performance. Please note that supervisors should not wait for a designated performance meeting to discuss performance; on-going communication about work performance should occur throughout the year.

Annual Review

Standardly, the review date aligns with the start date of the employee’s current position. A manager may shift the standard review date for a group of employees to accommodate conflicts with their normal business cycle. Review due dates may not be changed otherwise, unless there are special circumstances, such as one of the parties being off on leave.
Yes. System-generated emails will go out to supervisors one month prior, on the due date and when it is past due.
It’s important to consult your unit/college HR representative and MSU HR for guidance. A Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) will be necessary in this case. A PIP is used to help supervisors and employees address and resolve performance issues. The PIP communicates the performance discrepancies, the improved level of performance that needs to be achieved, and specific action steps that will help the employee meet performance expectations. The PIP goals are set for 90 days.