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Performance and Succession Planning
This unit supports the state’s annual personnel evaluations, the appeals process for classified employees, consults with agencies on issues involving performance management, advises managers and supervisors in goals writing, measurement and effective monitoring techniques.


Because the State of Ohio recognizes that this managerial function is critical to our success, a supervisor or manager who fails to complete the performance evaluation process for each of his direct reports will be rated accordingly on his own performance evaluation.

This unit also provides support to agencies in developing succession plans by providing best practices, tools, and resources along with assisting in plan implementation.

The objective of the State’s succession planning methodology is to create a formal plan that ensures the retention of knowledge prior to the departure of employees in critical roles. This is achieved by identifying incumbent positions that are essential to the agency’s mission, identifying potential successor pools, and investing in our current staff by developing their talent in preparation for advancement within the State.
It is the responsibility of every manager and supervisor to honestly evaluate the work performance of his/her employee at least once a year. Performance evaluation is not only a management right; it is a management duty (OAC 123:1-29-01, 123:1-29-02, and 123:1-29-03).


The Rater is an employee’s direct supervisor. The Rater sets employees’ goals, monitors performance, provides feedback, and provides an annual evaluation of employees’ performance. 

The Employee is the recipient of the Rater’s feedback. The Employee should also be engaged in his/her performance by proposing goals and seeking development opportunities. 

The Reviewer manages the Rater and may also assign work to employees while indirectly managing their performance. Reviewers provide the first level of approval for employees’ performance evaluations. 

Human Resources
Human Resources sets each agency’s performance management strategy as well as the Performance Evaluation Policy. HR is a great resource for Raters when they have questions about managing employee performance or navigating through ePerformance. Human Resources provides the final level of approval for all employee performance evaluations.

Best Practices

Performance management should be done every day, not one time each year.

Performance Management is a systematic process that, when followed from start to finish, will help create a nurturing performance-based culture in which each employee’s individual goals and performance expectations are aligned with the agency’s objectives.  Through this process, the employee receives meaningful and objective feedback.

Performance management provides Raters an ongoing opportunity to address what the employee does well and point out areas of improvement.  Performance management is an important avenue toward engaging employees in outcome-based work that aligns with the agency’s mission and ensuring that employees are developing into superior contributors to the State’s workforce.

Raters should establish employee goals at the beginning of each evaluation cycle.

It’s recommended that Raters establish 3-5 goals within an employee’s evaluation.  While there is no right or wrong method for determining these goals, there are many practices that can make the process less stressful.  Communicating with your employees (i.e. asking them what they wish to be evaluated on, understanding what they do on a daily basis, how would they like to grow within their current/future role) is the most beneficial way, along with seeking goals from the Position Description on file, or incorporating various unit or departmental goals.  

Raters should utilize the provided competencies.

The State of Ohio currently utilizes a self-created bank of over 40 competencies that evaluate employee behavior.  These are utilized in three (3) distinct categories: Statewide, Agency, and Classification Competencies.  All State of Ohio employees are required to be evaluated on the Statewide Competency of Customer Focus.  Agency Competencies are set by individual agencies’ Performance Evaluation policies, and therefore are not necessarily required.  It’s always wise to check with your agency’s Human Resource Department to see if an Agency Competency is required.  As of July 1, 2016 all Classification Competencies have been pre-loaded into ePerformance for both bargaining unit and exempt employees.  While the ability to select additional competencies is available, it is recommended that no edits be made to this section.

Raters and employees should talk about performance throughout the year.

While there may not be a specific policy that outlines how often a Rater should meet with his/her employees, it is a best practice to schedule regular touchpoint meetings with staff members.  At a minimum, a touchpoint meeting should be held with each staff member at least at the midpoint of the rating period, but ideally a quarterly touchpoint is best.  During these touchpoints, the employee’s progress toward achieving his/her goals should be discussed, along with any barriers encountered and resources or assistance needed.  Please contact your agency’s Human Resources Department regarding any agency-specific requirements.

Common Mistakes

  • Confusing goals with competencies.  Goals are the improvements employees should make to their work activities or the products they create that could help them make a better or larger contribution toward achieving the agency’s purpose, while a competency is the combination of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance.  See the ELM-based Activity entitled Goals vs. Competencies for additional detail.

  • Forgetting to provide specific examples of how each employee performed a given competency or goal rather than including comments such as “Good Employee” or “Does a good job.”

  • Providing ratings, but including no competencies, goals, or comments.  All performance documents should have competencies, at least 3-5 goals, as well as related comments that help support the given ratings.

  • Including comments that do not match the ratings.  For example, a comment that indicates a specific goal was not met, but rated as “Exceeds Expectations” should not be included.  Always make sure that your comments are reflective of your ratings.

  • Focusing on the employee’s performance during only the last part of the review period (called the Recency Effect).  Creating the performance document or discussing goals with the employee near the end of the rating period is a common mistake that leads to the Recency Effect.  Remember, ratings should be based upon the employee’s performance throughout the entire review cycle, not just the last few weeks or months.

  • Waiting until performance documents are due to create, rate, and finalize the review document.  This rushes the process and is easily avoided by creating the document and entering goals at the beginning of the rating period.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who is required to have an annual review?

The State of Ohio requires that all Classified employees receive an annual performance evaluation.  The Ohio Administrative Code 123:1-29-01 requires that employees be evaluated with respect to performance efficiency twice during the employee's probationary period and once each calendar year thereafter.


I have so much to do and a large number of employees.  How do I make time to do a performance evaluation?

Planning is the key.  Try creating a simple plan to help you evaluate and monitor employee performance.  You may even want to identify goals that can be applied to several positions.  Remember, this is an opportunity for you to engage your employees in the performance of their work.  

I am not confident in my computer skills.  Is there training to help me use ePerformance?

ePerformance training is provided in the fall and spring each year. Please look for training dates in the Annual Learning and Professional Development Catalog.  Registration for these training sessions is via myOhio.gov’s ELM.

My employees don’t like performance evaluations.  How do I help them see the value in this process?

Encourage your employees by informing them that this is a tool to document their progress in achieving your performance expectations as well as developing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.  The performance evaluation is also a way to recognize and document employees’ accomplishments.

How do I develop goals for my employees?

Use the SMART method to help establish well-defined goals.  When properly written, SMART goals give the employee clear expectations.  Goals should be specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely.  You may want to attend the Lead Ohio: Foundations of Supervision course entitled “Goal Setting” for hands-on practice and assistance.  Your agency’s Human Resources Department is also another good resource for assistance.

What do I do if my employees don’t agree with my ratings?

Performance should be discussed with the employee throughout the rating period, so the employee should be aware of his/her performance at all times.  If an employee wishes to dispute the evaluation, he/she may do so pursuant to his/her agency’s Performance Evaluation Policy, which outlines agency-specific evaluation appeal procedures.

Once all internal appeal processes have been exhausted, employees who are exempt from collective bargaining are also able to appeal evaluations to the Director of the Department of Administrative Services (outlined in Ohio Administrative Code 123:1-29-03).

Note that, in order to appeal an evaluation, the employee must acknowledge the evaluation.  If the employee refuses, he/she loses all appeal rights.

When an employee is on leave during the time of their review, how are their reviews handled?

Typically, if the employee is on leave when the Rater is setting goals, the goals should not be finalized until the employee returns from leave.  If the employee is on leave when the document needs to be acknowledged, the Rater should keep the document in an In Progress status until the employee returns and can acknowledge it him/herself.

What should I do if I have an employee who is not meeting performance standards?   

If an employee is not meeting performance standards, the Rater should first consult his/her Human Resources Department to help with outlining the employee’s poor performance areas.  Next, the Rater should have a discussion with the employee, then create a performance improvement plan to formalize and document the required areas of improvement.

At what point throughout the performance rating period do I begin a performance improvement plan?  Career development plan?

A performance improvement plan or a career development plan can be created at any time within the rating period.  A performance improvement plan is required if an employee’s overall performance rating is below “Meets Expectations”.

At what point do I create documents for the employees that I supervise?

For annual reviews, refer to the agency-specific review cycle.  These documents should be created about 30 days after a new rating period begins.  For mid-probationary reviews, the document should be created about 15 days after the employee’s hire date.  For final probationary reviews, the document should be created about 15 days after the employee’s mid-probationary date.

What types of topics should I cover in the annual review with my employee(s)?

Topics that should be discussed should include strengths, areas of opportunity, successful projects, and other topics that were discussed during touchpoints that occurred throughout the year.  Remember, even though annual review is only required once a year, Raters should always strive to provide continuous feedback.

What items should I consider when evaluating my employee’s performance?

Typical items to consider include emails from customers, peers, or management staff (whether positive or constructive); project plans and subsequent progress achieved; and behavior-focused examples.

Note that there are a few items that should not be considered when evaluating performance.  These items include:

  • Personal information, such as home address or social security number,
  • Medical information, and
  • Discipline.


Ad Hoc Evaluation:  a performance review that is used as needed.  An ad hoc evaluation should be used if an underperforming employee’s step date does not fall near the annual performance review cycle to document the need for withholding the employee’s next step increase.  Also, this evaluation type should be used at the conclusion of a Performance Improvement Plan to document sufficient improved performance.

Annual Evaluation:  a performance review that evaluates an entire year of performance.  Classified non-probationary employees are required to receive an evaluation every year (see Ohio Administrative Code 123:1-29-01).

Probationary Evaluation:  a performance review for newly hired or promoted employees.  Classified probationary employees are required to receive an evaluation at both the midpoint at the end of the probationary period (see Ohio Administrative Code 123:1-29-01).

Career Development Plan:  a CDP should be used when an employee would like to voluntarily improve some aspect of his or her performance.  Because the CDP is voluntary, there should not be punishment or other consequences for not meeting expectations.

Performance Improvement Plan:  a PIP should be used when performance is not meeting expectations. Its purpose is to document the issue, what steps will be taken to correct the issue, how the performance improvement will be measured, and what the timeline for improvement is.  A PIP should be used as an opportunity to provide in-depth, targeted coaching for employees who are not meeting a Rater’s overall performance expectations.

Goals:  the improvements employees should make to their work activities or the products they create that could help them make a better or larger contribution toward achieving the agency’s purpose.

Competency:  the combination of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance summarized into categories (e.g., the competency “Coaching and Developing Others” combines identifying development needs and taking actions to help others improve their skills).

SMART Goal:  a goal that includes components that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Coach:  a short-term method of continuous improvement in which an experienced or skilled coach, most often a Rater, directs an employee in improving performance in specific role-related tasks, behaviors, or both.

Mentor:  a long-term method of career development in which a mentor in a leadership role is matched with a less experienced protégé for the purpose of imparting guidance and advice from the mentor’s experience and perspective.


For general assistance with performance management, a good place to start is the online Performance Management Guide.  This Guide is for all employees regardless of job level or role.  It discusses topics such as those listed below.

  • Performance Management Cycle
  • Setting Expectations, Goals, and Competencies
  • Providing Feedback
  • Developing Employee Performance

ePerformance Job Aids and other resources can be found by visiting http://das.ohio.gov/ePerftoolkit.  Additionally, the ePerformance team can be contacted by emailing ePerformance@das.ohio.gov or calling 614-728-8973.

Raters are also strongly encouraged to participate in Lead Ohio: Foundations of Supervision.  Course schedules as well as registration links may be found via myOhio’s myLearning button.  This professional development opportunity has three (3) courses directly related to performance management.

  1. Coaching for Desired Results
  2. Goal Setting
  3. Evaluating your Employees

Finally, your agency’s Human Resources and/or Labor Relations staff can help with performance management questions.


Human Resources
Human Resources’ role is to gather and compile data from performance results to create potential successor pools, which are comprised of individuals who possess the skills necessary for the exempt positions that could become vacant.  In addition, Human Resources supports supervisors in completing items such as performance evaluations, stay interviews, and periodic coaching meetings as well as in developing employees for their next role.

Managers play a vital role in succession planning by effectively communicating with employees and taking an active role in employee development.  The most effective succession planning involves managers who promote and encourage employee development.  Managers should evaluate employees’ interest in the succession planning process and help develop employees for their next role. 

Employees exempt from collective bargaining play an important role in succession planning.  Exempt employees should think about their preferred career path and find ways to look into several positions of interest.  Exempt employees who are interested in development either within their current pay grade (laterally) or in a higher pay grade (promotionally) should inform their manager of their interest and begin to develop a plan to achieve the desired position.

Best Practices

Involve the entire agency.  Human Resources is not the only area that should be involved in succession planning.  The State realizes that a successful succession plan involves active participation and support from senior leaders who emphasizes the importance of succession planning.  Additionally, Human Resources provides plan consultation, Managers invest time and a commitment to develop employees, and Employees who are in charge of shaping their career path within the State.

Use 9-box results to create potential successor pools of qualified candidates for critical positions.  Use exempt employee input to narrow these pools as well as to tailor development opportunities so they become more qualified for the position they desire.

Communicate with everyone involved to answer questions, provide updates, and seek feedback to promote a transparent and constantly improving process.

Keep the process simple to ensure that the focus remains on succession planning outcomes rather than the processes itself.

Common Mistakes

  • Having an unclear or undocumented succession plan, which may result in critical knowledge lost when employees separate.  This in turn could result in vacancies lasting for extended periods of time, services not being provided to customers, work not being completed, hiring unqualified external hires, or promoting internal employees who may not have the necessary knowledge, skills, or abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position.

  • Keeping the plan a secret or not communicating the plan to employees.

  • Excluding employees or management in the process.

  • Creating a plan and not deploying it, which may result in employees not gaining the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in their next role.

  • Creating a plan once and not updating it when there is incumbent or potential successor movement.

  • Identifying potential successors because they are similar to the incumbent or believing that the successor should not be like the incumbent.

  • Having an unfair process where there is or appears to be favoritism.

  • Believing that all employees in the potential successor pool want the incumbent position.

  • Thinking that employees who are strong performers in their current position will be strong performers in another position.

  • Ignoring the importance of communicating with candidates who are not selected, leaving them with no information on the selection process or suggestions on how to develop in the future.

  • Focusing too heavily on the processes without producing results.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will succession planning benefit me?

Succession planning will benefit employees by helping them see advancement opportunities and by setting forth career development methods to help them reach their goals.  It will also help the agency by identifying potential successors for whom a knowledge transfer plan may be developed and deployed prior to a critical position becoming vacant. 

Is succession planning “pre-placing” employees?

No. Succession planning is the process of identifying and developing a pool of employees within State agencies to prepare for the future.  All potential successors must participate in the competitive recruitment process in order to be considered for any position.

Who can participate in career development?

Even though succession planning is currently a process available only to exempt employees, all employees can participate in career development.  It begins by communicating with your manager about what positions interest you.  Then, you and your manager should establish an action plan to help you understand the other positions’ duties and what skills are needed to successfully perform your desired job.

Are only those that participate in these career development methods chosen to fill critical positions?

No.  All employees are able to participate in these career development methods, but participation does not guarantee selection for critical positions.  Employees who inform their managers of their interest and participate in career development will develop skills necessary to perform the duties of that position should they be selected through the competitive recruitment process.

Why should I pick a lateral position instead of a promotional position?

There are several benefits to lateral career movement.  Lateral movement opens options for possible next moves in your career path by allowing you to acquire different skillsets.  Additionally, lateral movement offers opportunities to gain experience if the promotional route has bottlenecks such as very little movement or several employees vying for one position.

Why do we need to have succession planning and career development?

Succession planning and career development ensure that the State and its agencies can deliver the same level of service to customers even when critical talent is lost.  Also, it helps retain the talent we have, develops internal employees for multiple positions, and creates a culture of advancement, continuous improvement, and engagement.


9-box:  a performance measurement tool that indicates if employees are ready to be considered for a talent pool by evaluating their current performance via competencies and goals.

Abilities:  aptitude or competence in skills needed to perform a job task. 

Career Ladder:  promotional career progression that involves staying within the same job classification series (e.g. Designer 1, Designer 2, Designer 3).

Demotion:  a reassignment to a position with a lower pay range, skill requirement or level of responsibility than the employee’s current position.  As defined by Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 123:1-47-01 (46), a demotion “means the movement of an employee at the request of the appointing authority or the employee, from one position to a vacant position which is assigned to a different classification and a lower pay range, or lower salary where pay ranges do not exist. For the purposes of this definition, a lower pay range is determined by comparing the step one rates of the relevant pay ranges.”

Incumbent:  an employee that is currently in the critical position and will help develop potential successors to perform their job prior to the incumbent’s exit.

Knowledge:  acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study, investigation, or performance of a job task.

Lateral Move:  career movement that does not necessarily involve a monetary incentive.  As defined by Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 123:1-47-01 (46), a lateral classification change “means the movement of an employee, with the employee's consent, from one classification to another classification that is assigned to the same pay range or to a pay range in which the step one rate is the same as the step one rate as the classification from which the employee moves.”

Potential Successor Pool:  a group of employees who are interested in filling a critical position, but whose knowledge, skills, and abilities need developed prior to moving into the critical position.

Pre-placement:  the act of successors being next in line to fill the incumbent’s position when it becomes vacant.

Promotional Move:  career movement that involves increased complexity and responsibility and usually comes with a monetary incentive.  Ohio’s classified civil service promotions may be made “on the basis of merit and conduct and capacity in office” (see Ohio Administrative Code Chapter 123:1-23).

Skills:  the ability to perform a mental or motor activity that contributes to the effective performance of a job task.

Talent Pool:  a group of employees who currently possess the knowledge, skills, and abilities for another position.



Click here to download the complete Performance Management Guide.

Click the below sections to focus on a specific subject area from the Guide.

Introduction and the Value of Performance Management

Performance management includes setting expectations for your employees, observing their job performance, providing them feedback, and evaluating how well they meet the performance expectations.  The tabs on this website contain brief information about the best way to accomplish performance management tasks.  The guide in its entirety can be found by clicking here.

A formal performance evaluation cycle will benefit you and your employees by: 

  1. Informing employees of the agency mission and goals as well as the performance expectations and goals you have for them.
  2. Informing your employees of their progress toward achieving their performance expectations.
  3. Improving employee performance and productivity.
  4. Strengthening your work relationships and improving your communication with your employees.
  5. Developing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of your employees.
  6. Recognizing the accomplishments and good work of your employees.
By managing the performance of your employees more effectively, you will have more time to accomplish your own work. 

Performance Management Cycle

The State of Ohio performance management cycle consists of four steps that occur in a continuous loop:

  1. Setting Expectations/Goals
  2. Communicating Expectations/Goals
  3. Observing Performance and Providing Feedback
  4. Summarizing and Evaluating Performance

This illustration indicates that most of the cycle is spent on observing performance and providing feedback.  While your agency’s performance evaluation policy provides the cycle dates for completing evaluations in the ePerformance system, the steps of communicating expectations and observing performance and providing feedback should occur on a regular, frequent basis.  These regular conversations can be informal, however.  Frequent meetings may be helpful, but are not required.

Setting Expectations, Goals, and Competencies

In ePerformance, expectations and goals are set at the beginning of the process within the Establish Evaluation Criteria step.  Related job aids can be found in the ePerformance Toolkit.  Depending on the specific position, five (5) or fewer goals and performance expectations are recommended for each performance evaluation cycle.

Performance expectations
are the requirements for work product quantity, quality, timeliness, and results that apply to regular and routine job duties.  Performance expectations are the same for every employee performing the same job, so if multiple supervisors in your agency oversee employees in the same classification performing the same work, all supervisors should agree on the performance expectations for that work.

are the improvements employees should make to their work activities or the products they create that could help them make a better or larger contribution toward achieving the agency’s purpose.  Improvement goals can be different for different employees.

Performance Expectation:

Process each case within 45 days to comply with Ohio Revised Code.

Return voicemail messages within 1 business day.


Research and summarize the pros and cons of 3 methods of process improvement within the next 6 months.

Decrease the average amount of time you take to process a case by 10% while maintaining your current quality ratings within the next 12 months. 

To write an effective goal, you need to:

  • Understand what you want to achieve, improve, maintain, or discontinue. 
  • Make the goal challenging but not impossible.
  • Identify measurable outcomes such as:





  • Provide a tight, but still achievable, timeline for goal achievement.
  • Relate the goal to the agency’s mission.  Goals that provide indirect support for the agency’s mission may require you to give more explanation to your employees.
  • Avoid setting the goals so narrowly that employees ignore other important aspects of their jobs.

When using quality as a measure of job performance, you can use descriptive measures and examples so the employee will understand the level of performance you are expecting.  For example, “Write a user-manual for the software that is easily understood by our employees” or “Create a safety message that is easy to remember like stop, drop, and roll.”

There are many methods of goal-setting: SMART goals, Cascading Goals, Project Goals, etc.; however, not all methods of goal-setting are appropriate for all types of work.  The following table discusses popular methods of goal-setting and the circumstances in which they are most and least successful.



Method Explanation

Good for:

Does not work well for:

Cascading Goals

Goals are set from the top-down and goals at each subsequent level should tie back to the goal at the level above.

The first two or three levels of executive management.

The entire organization. Not every goal needs to tie directly back to a supervisor’s goal and cascading through the entire organization takes a long time as each level’s goals have to be completed before moving on to the next level.


A format for writing goals in which the goal must be Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Most employees. Also used to ensure you have included pertinent information in the goal.

Goals that need to be relevant over a long time, such as a year, or some tasks that require innovation.

Project Goals

A series of goals within a project that has a defined beginning and ending.

Employees whose work can be broken up into meaningful milestones.

Employees who continuously make a product.

Begin writing goals by considering:

  • Your agency’s purpose.  Every goal, directly or indirectly, should help your employees achieve the agency’s purpose.
  • The employee’s previous goals.
  • The goals you have.
  • The employee’s current job performance.
Ensure the goal is something that is in the employee’s control to change.  The following examples demonstrate goals that are out of an employee’s control and how to alter them to be in the employee’s control.

Not in employee’s control:

Respond to 10 customer inquiries a week.  The employee is not in control of how many inquiries are submitted each week.

Improve efficiency of processing requests by using the new software system.  The employee is not in control of the software system.  It may malfunction or may not be user-friendly.

In the employee’s control:

Respond to customer inquiries within 24 hours of their submission, either with an answer or with a timeline of when the customer will receive the answer.  The employee can control how quickly he or she responds to the inquiries.

Improve knowledge of how the new software system works by taking the training class and reviewing the manual within the next 2 months.  The employee can control how familiar he or she is with the system.

Putting It Together: Goal Examples


Reduce the unit’s budget by 10% by Fiscal Year 2016 without compromising the quality of services and goods that the unit purchases for the agency.


Identify one program area where we can reduce costs without compromising the quality of services and goods purchased for the program within two months.

Analyst 1:

  1. Identify 3 new suppliers and their prices for office supplies by the end of the month.
  2. Respond to procurement requests within 24 hours by providing the timeframe for approval and ordering.

Analyst 2:

  1. Identify how many supplies are being used, regularity of orders, & how much inventory is necessary to have on-hand by the end of the month.
  2. Respond to procurement requests within 24 hours by providing the timeframe for approval and ordering.      

In this example, the goals contain specific outcomes, include a timeline, and are somewhat challenging.  All of the goals allow the employees to determine the best way to approach the goal.  The analysts also have performance expectation goals that do not tie directly back to the supervisor’s goal.  This is because the regular work of the procurement unit must still be conducted in addition to the special project of reducing the budget.  When the supervisor discusses the goals with the analysts, he or she should discuss the unit’s goal of reducing the budget and how the analysts’ activities will help achieve that goal.

Competencies are the combination of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for successful job performance summarized into categories (e.g., the competency “Coaching and Developing Others” combines identifying development needs and taking actions to help others improve their skills).  The ePerformance system has 42 competencies from which supervisors can choose for the evaluation of their employees.  These competencies were carefully selected to be applicable to many classifications across the state.

There are three categories of competencies:

  1. Statewide:  apply to every employee in the State.  Ohio’s Statewide Competency is “Customer Focus.”
  2. Agency-wide:  apply to every employee of a given agency, chosen by agency executives.
  3. Classification:  apply to every employee in a classification.  In 2016, the State assigned three competencies to all classifications, which automatically appear in all ePerformance-based evaluation documents.
Overall, the total number of competencies that should be evaluated, including statewide, agency-wide, and classification competencies, should be fewer than 5 if possible.  The list of the State’s ePerformance competencies can be found in the ePerformance Toolkit.

The following example is the competency list for a Deputy Director at an agency that uses both Agency-wide and Classification-specific competencies

Statewide Competency:

Customer Focus

Agency-wide Competency:

Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, and Subordinates

Classification-specific Competencies:

Making Decisions and Solving Problems

Developing Objectives and Strategies

Monitoring and Controlling Resources


Communicating Expectations and Goals

Within the first few weeks of the evaluation cycle, you should relay your expectations and goals to each of your employees (e.g., by January 15 for January’s annual cycle) during a one-on-one meeting with each individual employee to encourage open discussion and allow for clarification if necessary.

It is important to explain what specific actions and behaviors will be required for the employees to receive a “Meets Expectations” on their performance evaluations.

The actions and behaviors required to earn the “Meets Expectations” rating should be the same for all employees in the same classification performing the same job duties in the agency.  The table below outlines the generic rating definitions that you can use to help define each item’s expected actions and behaviors.



1. Does Not Meet

Fails to meet standards (e.g., employees with this rating fail to satisfactorily perform most aspects of the position; performance levels are below established requirements for the job; employee requires close guidance and direction in order to complete routine assignments).

2. Meets Expectations

Fully meets standards (e.g., achieves acceptable standards of performance, expectations and requirements; results can be expected which are timely and accurate; performance constitutes what is expected of a qualified, experienced employee performing in this position).

3. Exceeds Expectations

Exceeds standards (e.g., consistently goes above the communicated expectations for the job responsibility or goal; demonstrates a unique understanding of work beyond assigned area of responsibility; achievements are obvious to subordinates, peers, managers and customers).

Anytime your performance expectations or goals for your employees change, you should discuss those changes with your employees as soon as possible.

Providing Feedback

Providing feedback is an extremely important part of being a supervisor.  Providing feedback will:

  • Allow employees to adjust their performance to meet the goals and performance expectations you have set. 
  • Result in them putting more time and effort into the tasks you commented on, which usually leads to improving their performance on those tasks. 
  • Prevent employees from getting feedback from other sources such as their coworkers, other supervisors, or even the tasks themselves.  This may lead your employees to put more effort into the tasks they can get the most feedback from rather than the tasks you think are most critical.

The best way to provide feedback is to:

  • Make it timely.  Provide feedback as close to when you observed their performance as possible.
  • Make it specific.  Detailed examples are more likely to be accepted by employees.
  • Make it a regular occurrence.  You do not have to hold a formal meeting to provide performance feedback, but you should provide some form of feedback at least a few times a month.
  • Ensure the focus is on aspects of job performance that are in the employee’s control to change.
  • Recognize and respect individual employee preferences in receiving feedback (e.g., face-to-face or written; group setting or privately).
  • Ensure the feedback is about tasks that are critical to performance, not just the tasks for which feedback is easy to provide.
  • Remember to provide feedback about an employee’s strengths.  Feedback about strengths may improve performance more than feedback about weaknesses.

Providing negative feedback may be one of your least favorite tasks to perform as a supervisor.  Unfortunately, delaying or avoiding negative feedback will cause more harm than good.  Consequences of delaying or avoiding negative feedback include:

  • Letting the problem last for so long that you only address it in anger rather than with constructive feedback.
  • Providing too much negative feedback at one time, causing the employee to escalate his or her defensive behaviors.
  • Increasing the employee’s perception of unfairness when you rate the employee lower than he or she expects to be rated.
  • Lowering your work unit/department/division/agency’s productivity.

The best way to provide negative feedback is to:

  • Deliver it in private.  Never provide negative feedback publicly.
  • Make it specific.  Include details about what behaviors are causing the poor performance and a specific plan for improving their performance.  Employees are likely to perceive negative feedback as inaccurate, so providing specific details can help employees accept the feedback.
  • Deliver it soon after you observed the unsatisfactory performance.  If there are many things to improve; however, spread the negative feedback over a few conversations.
  • Avoid the feedback sandwich technique in which a supervisor surrounds negative feedback with positive feedback.  It demotivates good employees by diminishing their good work and weakens the message for poorly performing employees, who will only focus on the positive feedback you provided.

The following examples will demonstrate how to change vague feedback into the specific, detailed feedback that will help your employees improve their performance.

Performance meets expectations:


“Your report was well received at the meeting today.  Good job.”  While it is a good idea to praise satisfactory work, no details are included as to why the report was well received.


“Your report was well received at the meeting today.  The graphs you included illustrated the data clearly, and when I read the rest of the report, I noticed that the executive summary captured all of the important details.  Good job.”  The supervisor specifically described what he or she liked about the report, making it likely that the employee will continue to use appropriate graphs and pay close attention to what information should be included in the executive summary in the future.

Performance exceeds expectations:


“This project had a great outcome.  You really exceeded my expectations this time.”  The employee will not know exactly what actions he or she took that the supervisor thought affected the outcome.


“The process you implemented decreased the timeline to complete this project by so much that we saved 15% of our budget.  You really exceeded my expectations for this project.”  The supervisor included the actions the employee took and what he or she thought was great about the outcome. 

Performance does not meet expectations: 


“This report isn’t good enough to present to our managers.  You need to fix this by Monday.”  While the employee will know the work doesn’t meet expectations, he or she will not know whether it is the format of the report, the content, or both that should be improved.


“I saw statistical errors in section 2 and the graphs in section 3 were confusing.  We cannot present this to our managers.  You need to correct the report by Monday.”  The employee will know what to fix and what details to pay attention to in the future. 


Observing Performance

Every supervisor will benefit from training your brain to be a better observer of employee job performance.  When you observe your employees’ job performance, you should:

  • Look and listen for specific actions and words that demonstrate something about an employee’s performance.
  • Observe as many details as possible.
  • Get information from multiple sources if possible (e.g., direct observation, reports from coworkers or customers, inspection of work products).
  • Avoid comparing the employee’s past job performance when observing current performance.
  • Avoid allowing the situation or setting to influence your observations.
  • Avoid evaluating the performance while you are observing it.

One of the best ways to track and remember employee behaviors is to keep a performance log for each of your employees.  Methods to create a performance log include: 

  • Word document
  • Email folder 
  • Paper file
The logs should include descriptions of employees’ actions and words, not evaluations of their performance.  This will help you recall their actual behaviors when you are ready to evaluate their overall performance.

The following example demonstrates how remembering an evaluation of performance can cause you to miss important performance details.

Evaluative observation:

2/5/2015 - Observed Paul provide great customer service today when he was interacting with an angry customer at the customer service desk.  Paul listened well and provided the information the customer needed.  The customer left calmer than he had arrived.

Behavioral observation:

2/5/2015 - Observed Paul interacting with an angry customer at the customer service desk.  The customer was using an agitated tone of voice when asking why his claim hadn’t been processed yet, even though it had passed the 45 days the code required the agency to respond by.  Paul listened to the customer, responded in a calm voice, and explained that the code required 45 days from a certain point in the submission process, not from the submission itself, and told the customer that he too had trouble understanding that part of the code when he first read it.  Paul then provided the date when the 45-day count started and said the customer would receive notice when his claim had been processed.  The customer left the office calmer than when he arrived.  Paul did not provide the exact date the 45-day count would be up, nor did he provide the customer service number that the customer could have called instead of coming to the office. 

Both examples describe Paul performing his job well; however, the evaluative observation missed the details that would allow Paul to improve his performance in the future.  Also, the evaluative observation will not help the supervisor remember all of the behaviors that led to Paul performing well, such as empathizing with the customer.

Summarizing and Evaluating Performance

The most important step to take for performance evaluations is to make sure that you and your employees have the same expectations of how the evaluation scales will be used.  At the State, we have two evaluation scales:

Individual Goal and Competency Ratings

Summary and Overall Performance Ratings

· Does Not Meet

· Does Not Meet

· Meets Expectations

· Needs Improvement

· Exceeds Expectations

· Meets Expectations

· Exceeds Expectations

· Outstanding

When summarizing and evaluating expectations, you should:

  • Meet with other supervisors of employees in the same classification to discuss ratings and adjust if some supervisors are rating differently than others.  Keep information shared in these meetings confidential.
  • Provide detailed comments for each rating, using feedback guidelines.
  • Ensure your employees understand that a “Meets Expectations” rating is not mediocre, inadequate, or a “C” performance.  It means the employee performed the job successfully.  
Some employees may want you to define what behaviors and results would earn an “Exceeds Expectations” or an “Outstanding.”  For some tasks, this may be easy to define.  If the expectation is that an employee processes 10 cases a week, and the employee consistently processes 15 cases a week, that employee is exceeding expectations.  For other tasks, “Exceeds Expectations” may be hard to define.  If the expectation is that a project is completed with satisfied customers, you may not know exactly what behavior or result would make the customers extra satisfied.  It is alright for you not to have exact definitions of what behaviors and results would earn an “Exceeds Expectations;” however, you need to communicate that fact, why that is, and be very specific about what actions will earn a “Meets Expectations,”  so that it is clear to both you and the employee when your employee exceeds those expectations.

Many supervisors and employees are frustrated with comments that are subjective evaluations of an employee’s attitude.  The following examples demonstrate how to alter your comments about attitudes to contain more objective and actionable information.

Performance meets expectations:

Subjective attitude

“You are a good team player.”  While it is important to identify that the employee works well with others, there is no information to indicate why the employee works well with others.

Objective behavior and results

“I saw you consistently demonstrate good teamwork skills when you listened patiently to your coworkers and helped them find solutions during the rollout of the new software.”  The supervisor specifically described what behaviors he or she observed, making it likely that the employee will continue to conduct him or herself that way in the future.

Performance exceeds expectations:

 Subjective attitude

“You bring great professionalism to the office.”  The employee will not know exactly what actions he or she took that the supervisor thought were great.

Objective behavior and results

“I frequently hear you praise the efforts of your coworkers and you always take time to find an answer or the correct person to ask when your coworkers ask you a question.”  The supervisor included the actions the employee took that makes him or her great to work with. 

Performance does not meet expectations: 

Subjective attitude

“You display a bad attitude during meetings.”  While the employee will know his or her behavior doesn’t meet expectations, he or she will not know what actions could be improved.

Objective behavior and results

“You are not supporting your coworkers when you roll your eyes when you hear an idea you don’t agree with during meetings.  I have also heard you cut the other person off to say what you think is wrong with the idea in multiple instances.”  The employee will know what behaviors to fix in the future. 

The ePerformance system has a few writing tools to help you write comments or provide developmental suggestions for specific competencies.  These suggestions will not be replacements for the job observations you have recorded in your log, but they may help you summarize those observations.  More information about how to use the writing tools can be found in the Manager (Rater) Evaluates Employee job aid in the ePerformance Toolkit.

Performance Evaluation Meetings

The goal of your meeting with your employee is understanding.  At the end of the meeting, your employee should understand what his/her ratings are and why you provided the ratings you did.  Your employee does not need to agree with your ratings, but he/she does need to understand them.  Understanding is an easy goal to achieve if you have been providing feedback about your employee’s performance and goal progress throughout the year.  The performance evaluation meeting offers you the chance to discuss performance as a whole and repeat any important feedback. 

When conducting performance meetings you should:

  • Encourage your employees to read their performance evaluations before the meeting.  This way, employees can take the time to understand and react to the ratings in private.
  • For good performers, focus on their strengths and achievements.  These employees will likely initiate conversations about what they can do to improve future performance on their own.
  • For poor performers, focus on the steps they need to take for immediate improvement.  Discuss the need and steps for improvement in a tactful, professional tone.
  • Have the performance evaluation and supporting documentation available.
  • Follow any agency-specific performance evaluation meeting guidelines.


Developing Employee Performance

Supervisors should identify ways for employees to develop their knowledge, skills, or abilities on a regular basis.  While training classes and seminars are good tools to use in the developmental process, most employees will develop the majority of their knowledge, skills, or abilities through on-the-job experiences.

During this development, you will provide a specific kind of feedback called coaching.  When you coach your employees, your conversations should focus on what your employees could change in the future, rather than focusing on what was ineffective in the past.

For example, when you coach your employee, you would ask “what techniques could you use to keep the meeting on track with the agenda?” rather than telling your employee “we did not meet the objectives of the agenda in the meeting because you let everyone get off track.”

Coaching can be used to enforce effective behavior as well as correct ineffective behavior.  When you coach your employees, you should:

  • Give advice based on your past experiences.
  • Provide guidance about how employees can develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
  • Provide support when your employees need help.
  • Provide confidence that your employees can accomplish their goals or that their actions are on the right course.
  • Steer employees toward the competencies they should develop for future roles.

The ePerformance system has two methods for documenting performance improvement:

  • The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) should be used when performance is not meeting expectations.  Its purpose is to document the issue, what steps will be taken to correct the issue, how the performance improvement will be measured, and what the timeline for improvement is.  You should use the PIP as an opportunity to provide in-depth, targeted coaching for employees who are not meeting your overall performance expectations.
  • The Career Development Plan (CDP) should be used when an employee would like to voluntarily improve some aspect of his or her performance.  Because the CDP is a voluntary process, there should not be punishment or other consequences for not meeting expectations.  You should also encourage your employees to use the self-evaluation feature in ePerformance when they are working on a CDP.

Both the PIP and the CDP go through the same approval process as any other performance evaluation document in the system.  They can work with or be independent of another performance document, such as an annual or ad hoc evaluation.  If you rate an employee overall as anything below “Meets Expectations,” you will need to create a PIP for that employee.  More information about how these documents work in the system can be found in the ePerformance Toolkit.  Your agency’s Performance Evaluation policy has specific information about how your agency uses these features.

Other Resources

The State offers performance management tools in many forms.  The ePerformance Toolkit contains system job aids, quick reference guides, a list of available competencies, and the Statewide Performance Evaluation policy. 

The DAS Office of Learning and Professional Development also offers several performance management courses to supervisors through the LEAD Ohio program (a mandatory training program for new supervisors) include:

  • Coaching
  • Communicating for Results 
  • Evaluating Your Employees 
  • Goal Setting

Exempt employees can also take advantage of the Performance Management Learning Program available in Learn It Ohio.

Finally, the State Library of Ohio offers many resources about Performance Management.  A librarian will help you locate resources that directly address your performance management questions.

Reference List

The following is a list of references that were used to create this guide.  State employees can access these references through the State Library:

Bailey, S. (2014, May 13).  The pay-for-performance fallacy.  Talent Management.

Cascio, W. F. & Aguinis, H. (2011).  Applied Psychology in Human Resource Management (7th ed.).  Boston: Prentice Hall. 

DeNisi, A. S. & Peters, L. H. (1996).  Organization of information I memory and the performance appraisal process:

Evidence from the field.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(6), 717-737.

Fiske, T., & Taylor, S. E. (1984).  Social Cognition.  London: Addison-Wesley.

Grote, D. (2011).  How to be good at performance appraisals.  Boston:  Harvard Business Review Press.  

Ilgen, D. R., Fisher, C. D., & Taylor, M. S. (1979).  Consequences of individual feedback on behavior in organizations. 

Journal of Applied Psychology, 64(4), 349-371.

Ilgen, D. R., Peterson, R. B., Martin, B. A., & Boeschen, D. A. (1981).  Supervisor and subordinate reactions to performance appraisal sessions.  Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 28, 311-330.

Kluger, A. N. & DeNisi, A. (1996).  The effects of feedback interventions on performance: A historical review, a meta-analysis, and a preliminary feedback intervention theory.  Psychological Bulletin, 119(2), 254-284.

Landy, F. J. & Farr, J. L. (1983).  The measurement of work performance: Methods, theory, and applications.  New York: Academic Press.

Larsen, J. R. (1989).  The dynamic interplay between employees’ feedback-seeking strategies and supervisors’ delivery of performance feedback.  Academy of Management Review, 14(3), 408-422.

Latham, G. P. (2004).  The motivational benefits of goal-setting.  Academy of Management Executive, 18(4), 126-129.

Liden, R. C. & Mitchell, T. R. (1985).  Reactions to feedback: The role of attributions.  Academy of Management Journal, 28(2), 291-308

Liner v. Montgomery County Engineer, State of Ohio State Personnel Board of Review 2013-REM-02-0080 (2014).

Locke, A. E. & Latham G. P. (2002).  Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey.  American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717.

London, M., Mone, E. M., & Scott, J. C. (2004).  Performance management and assessment:  Methods for improved rater accuracy and employee goal setting.  Human Resource Management, 43(4), 319-336.

Mueller-Hanson, R. A. & Pulakos, E. D. (2015).  Putting the “performance” back in performance management.  SHRM-SIOP Science of HR White Paper Series.  Society for Human Resources Management and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Murphy, K. R. & Cleveland, J. N. (1995).  Understanding Performance Appraisal.  Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

National Research Council (1991).  Pay for performance: Evaluating performance appraisal and merit pay.  Washington,D.C.: National Academy Press.

Northcraft, G. B., Schmidt, A. M., & Ashford, S. J. (2011).  Feedback and the rationing of time and effort among competing tasks.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(5), 1076-1086.

Roch, S. G. & O’Sullivan, B. J. (2003).  Frame of reference rater training issues: Recall, time and behavior observation training.  International Journal of Training and Development, 7(2), 93-107.; Thornton, G. C. & Zorich, S. (1980). 

Training to improve observer accuracy.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 65(3), 351-354.  Witt, L. A. (1998).  Enhancing organizational goal congruence: A solution to organizational politics.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 83(4), 666-674.

Woehr, D. J. & Feldman, J. (1993).  Processing objective and question order effects on the causal relation between memory and judgment in performance appraisal:  The tip of the iceberg.  Journal of Applied Psychology, 78(2), 232-241.


For assistance with ePerformance, contact us:


800-409-1205, option 6


Leadership Team

Ray Justice, HCM Manager