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Performance: For People Leaders

Cornell advances an environment of continuous learning and professional growth as a way to align the needs of the institution with the skills, interests and abilities of those in our workforce. 

The development of staff is a shared responsibility of individual staff members, people leaders, and the university leadership.


Performance management isn't one-and-done. At Cornell, it falls into three buckets:

A People Leader’s Role in Performance

Conversations about performance are important because they:

  • Apply a holistic, ongoing process to develop employees and enable strategic visions or goals.
  • Ensure consistent focus on employee development across units, aligning performance conversations with strategic goals.
  • Provide employees with a clear understanding of the outcomes they are expected to deliver.
  • Develop a common language and transparent process to enable achievement.

People leaders are expected to create and foster an environment that facilitates and enhances the success of staff by:

  • Discussing with staff members development needs in relation to the work of the unit and the division.
  • Addressing performance and behavior issues in a productive and timely manner that aligns with the university’s progressive approach to discipline.
  • Providing opportunities for the discussion of individual goals on at least an annual basis and for the development of a mutually agreed on plan for training and career development.
  • Recognizing developmental achievements during the year.
  • Based on the operational requirements of the unit, providing job-specific training to enable staff members to acquire skills and knowledge necessary to complete the work of the unit based on identified needs.
  • To the extent that operational requirements allow, providing staff members with appropriate opportunities to acquire skills or experience which would enhance the staff member's ability to make a continuing contribution to the work of the University.

Performance Management Process

The PMP is a crucial tool to maximize staff engagement, performance, and development. Central to this process is the annual employee Performance Dialogue, which reviews past performance and identifies future development opportunities that are aligned to individual, unit, and university goals.

Successful performance management supports:

  • Cornell’s inclusion efforts
  • Proactive succession management
  • Aligns staff roles and goals with the university’s mission
  • Enhances full development and utilization of employee talent

Performance Dialogues

To help you and your team members achieve, the Performance Dialogue (PD) process is a University process that enables people leaders to share appreciation and to recognize you for a job well done, create open dialogue about expectations, provide coaching, and to align priorities of the division with you to develop your goals, and to pave a path for you to be well positioned for the next career opportunity.

Performance Dialogues resources webpage.

Performance conversations need to be captured in Workday, the approved centralized record.

Performance Improvement

The university’s philosophy on improving performance and behavior is corrective and progressive. Whenever possible, the university encourages informal resolutions to problems including coaching, counseling, and training. When these efforts don’t result in desired change, formal progressive discipline is an appropriate next step. Before imposing discipline, supervisors are expected to consult with their college or unit HR representative.

Supervisor Responsibilities:

It’s important that supervisors give clear feedback, and that the PMP is conducted consistently across all units, with transparency, fairness, and efficiency.

  • Review Talent Management Matrix (pdf), Skills for SuccessLeadership Skills for Success
  • Establish goals, expectations, and measures for success.
  • Continually monitor performance toward expectations.
  • Provide ongoing performance feedback and coaching.
  • Follow the performance management process for annual performance reviews.
  • Be receptive to feedback from your staff member.
  • Complete Individual Goals Alignment (doc) bi-annual check-in with staff member
  • Gather feedback for the staff member as agreed upon by the unit
  • Recognize and reward staff member
  • Talent discussion with leadership team to share staff performance and skill sets.
9 Minute Instructional Video for Performance Management Process:
Workday Performance Management Video - Workday Manager View

Performance Management Toolkit



Setting Goals


also see: Coaching - Executive Coaching at Cornell