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icon of two people sitting at a tableWe are excited to launch the FY20 Year-End Performance and Development Conversations!   We know that this has been a tumultuous second half of the (FY) year for all of us, but we hope these conversations provide you an opportunity to reflect on the progress your teams have made through these challenging times, and to look towards the future.

For a variety of reasons, our performance and development conversations for FY20 will follow a different structure than in previous years.  Here are some key changes for this year:

  • There will be no ratings in FY20. A new single option of “Not Applicable/No Rating” has replaced the typical drop-down menu.
  • All conversations will, of course, be conducted over Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
  • You will still use PeopleSoft as a tool for documenting the reflections and intentions discussed in your year-end conversation.

Despite this process looking very different this year – it is more important than ever.  Meaningful manager-employee check-ins are critical drivers for employee engagement and can provide a sense of continuity, forward progress, and support both organizational and team morale.

This is an opportunity to build upon conversations between managers and employees to reflect on all that has been accomplished, both individually and collectively throughout the academic year.

Resources for You

Resources for You

We are here to help you along the way so please feel free to reach out to your HR Business Partner for assistance at any time.

Check in here to find important information and tools to help. Additional tools and training materials can be found on the Harvard Training Portal.

Annual Performance Review: Tips and Tools

Annual Performance Review: Tips and Tools

  • Prepare for the conversation

    • Self-evaluation
      • Honestly evaluate your own performance
        • Be objective so as to not appear biased or self serving
        • Prepare a list of your accomplishments throughout the year, and be ready to talk about them
    • Show growth
      • Be prepared to show that you have improved in areas that were critiqued in previous year
      • Or, prepare to talk about your initiative in your own self development that shows growth in the things you are already doing well
    • Plans for the future
      • Be prepared to talk about ways in which your manager can support you achieve your goals.  This may mean skills you’d like to develop
    • Share with your manager
      • Encouraging a two way dialogue can be best done by giving your manager a chance to prepare for the conversation by reviewing what you’ve put together
    • Be open minded
      • Ask open ended questions to seek clarity
      • Catch your own emotions
      • If we become defensive, we stop listening
  • Receiving Feedback

    • Mindset – constructive and positive
    • Recognize your own emotions and the potential impact of your response
    • Asking open ended questions
    • Listening skills
  • Listening Skills

    • Create the Right Environment: Set aside physical distractions to focus completely on the other person
      • Speaker: “Can we talk about a challenging situation that I am having?”
        Listener: “This is a good time. I will silence my phone and close the door to give you 100% of my attention.”
    • Seek to Understand: Focus on the speaker’s message, rather than your response
      • Bracketing: Imagine putting aside your nagging thoughts or the debate
      • Body Language: Lean forward, establish and maintain eye contact, comfortable posture
    • Paraphrase: Validate the speaker’s message by rephrasing, using your own words to confirm their meanings. Use reflective language
      • “As I hear it, you…” “I’m picking up that you…” “It sounds like you…”
    • Perception Check: Check your belief(s) about what the speaker feels or thinks – unspoken assumptions, conclusions, feelings
      • “It appears that you place a high value on…” “So, your feeling now is that…” “You seem to have a sense of…”
  • Nonverbal Communication

    During active listening, the nonverbal cues you use are equally important as your choice of words and language in reinforcing to the employee that they are being heard, and that you, as the manager/supervisor are fully engaged with what is being shared.


    • Comfortable eye contact
    • Listen nonjudgmentally, listen for understanding
    • Use affirming voice sounds to encourage conversations
    • Open hands, “open” arms – not crossed
    • Engaging posture, whether standing or sitting
  • Open-Ended Questions

    Open-ended questions help manager and staff to more clearly understand what is happening, what is needed, and to discover different ways of thinking and acting to be more satisfied and fully contributing in our roles.

    Open-ended questions start with: What, How, When, Where, Who, and sometimes Why.


    • What priorities do you think I should focus on this year?
    • What impact do you want me to have this year?
    • What is your (our) understanding about the project?
    • What might I (we) do differently?
    • Who else might be a resource to me (or us)?
    • How can I (we) mitigate the risk?
    • What do you need from me?
  • Best Practices for Meeting/Conversation

    • Treat the conversation with the importance it deserves
    • Schedule in advance
    • Reserve adequate time
    • Prepare for the meeting
    • No interruptions; stay present
    • Create an open, comfortable environment
    • Your aim is a two-way conversation
    • Be curious, ask questions, and listen to understand