Skip to main content


Overview of The Performance Planning Process

Goals and Key Responsibilities can be created, edited, documented and cancelled at any time. Performance on goals and key responsibilities is evaluated during a cumulative review at the end of the performance cycle. Employees must start and make progress in the categories described below (printable version):

Activity Description (examples)


How to Document (examples)

  • “Routine” job duty.
  • Something you are responsible for on a regular basis.

Key Responsibility

How much; how often; any feedback received; notable events, challenges or accomplishments; changes in how you do the work; your contributions

  • A project with start and end dates
  • A project with specific deliverables
  • A process improvement
  • Integration of new equipment, software, materials, etc.


How much of the project has been completed; notable events, challenges or accomplishments; impact of the project; your contributions

  • “I will learn to….by….”
  • “Take classes in…in order to …”
  • “Self-study in order to …”
  • “Be trained on …. in order to”

Professional Development Goal

What you have done to learn and grow; trainings attended or credential earned; describe where and how you have applied this learning;

  • Activity that supports the college
  • Is outside your normal job duties
  • (When possible) takes advantage of your skills and knowledge

Service Goal

Identify your service activities; what you did; duration of activity; how it supports the college

Key Responsibilities + Goals =

60% of review weight  

+ 40% Competency Evaluation

 = 100% Review Total

See below for more detailed descriptions of categories, how to write in the SMART format and tutorials for managing goals.

Why Document and Update Progress?

The Cornerstone Performance Management system makes it easy to document progress on your goals and key responsibilities. It is important to regularly update your progress throughout the year. Here are some reasons why:

(Click  to display)

Provides Focus
By checking on and updating your own progress you are reminded of the priorities and intentions set by you and your manager. This can help you get back on track if you are falling behind in progress. This can also help you identify when a goal may no longer be a priority due to changing needs in your area. This gives you the opportunity to modify, cancel or add a new relevant goal.

Improves Performance and Processes
Describing your work on a key responsibility or goal helps you identify what is working well, where you have strengths, or where you have room for improvement.

Enhances and Documents Communication
Frequent informal conversations between managers and direct reports are important to maintaining good communication. More formal documentation will help your manager see, at a glance, how you are progressing on Key Responsibilities and Goals. It can remind you of important events, challenges and accomplishments to discuss when you meet with your manager. Lastly, the commenting tool provides a date-stamped record of updates and feedback.

Supports Decision Making
When it comes time to identifying needs for resources such as equipment, supplies, time or staffing, developing budgets or plans, or making changes to an accepted practice, better decisions can be made at all levels of an organization when there is documentation supporting the needs and choices.

Lays the Groundwork for Self-Review/ Annual Review
Keeping good documentation throughout the year provides an effective record of activities, accomplishments, contributions, discussions, events, and learning. Without this regular documentation it will be difficult to recollect and describe what influenced the actions of the rating period. If progress is well-documented, the annual self-review will be easy to write.

Relationship Building
“Employees don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Manager feedback is a key variable in employee satisfaction, engagement and retention. Performance conversations are a mechanism for ensuring regular communication is occurring.

Being deliberate about reflection on work can improve the work, build evidence that employees are capable of expanded roles and identify areas for growth and development.

Performance Intervention
It is important that supervisors have documented evidence of performance problems should there be a need for a performance intervention.

Q&A: How and When to Document Progress

The tools for documentation are easy to use (see the user guides and tutorials). Here are some common questions and recommendations for how and when to document progress:

(Click  to display)

(Printable Version)

Q. When do I update the Goal Progress bar?

Expressing goal progress is subjective but you can think about your progress in one, or a combination, of the following ways:

  • If your goal has distinct steps or stages, your progress can be shown as a percentage of steps completed (eg. 3 of 5 steps would equal 60% complete).
  • If your goal has a quantifiable objective, your progress can be shown as a percentage of your target quantity (eg. 250 of 500 records transferred equals 50% complete).
  • If your goal has fixed duration, your progress can be shown as a percentage of total time (eg. 5 months elapsed in a 7 month project equals 71%)

Q. What should go in the comments section when I update progress on a goal or key responsibility?
You can use the commenting tool to:

  • Reflect on any notable challenges or successes you experience. If you document them as they occur you will have a narrative of your progress at the end of the year.
  • Document any significant milestones or decision points on the road to completing the goal.
  • Document any feedback you received. You can paste in a copy of an email. (You can also ask that the feedback be submitted via Feedback in your profile page)

Q. How do I update progress and comments for a Key Responsibility that is a routine activity I do all the time?

  • Time: You can show your progress as a percentage of the performance year. For instance, Four months into the performance year is 25%, 6 momths is 50%, etc.
  • Quantity: If your Key Responsibility has distinct steps or stages, or quantifiable objectives, it can be documented by the percent of those stages or objectives completed.
  • You can use the commenting tool to:
    • reflect on any notable challenges or successes in carrying out the key responsibility. For instance, did you use a new technique, process or system?
    • document any feedback you received from sutomers, colleagues or supervisors. Include anything that reflects the quality of your work.
    • note any challenges or opportunities you foresee and discuss these with your manager.

Q. How often should I update?
This will vary depending on how quickly key responsibility- and goal-related milestones occur or how often you and your manager want to review progress. At the very least, you should update and comment on progress frequently enough to remember notable activities, accomplishments and challenges. Consider blocking time on your calendar to reflect on and document progress at least once a month.

Q. Who sees the comments?
Employees and their managers can see comments in the goals area of Cornerstone and during a cumulative review. If goals and key responsibilities are well-documented, there may be little to add to when doing a self-review.

Q. What if I want to upload more than three attachments?
To work around the limitation of three attachments you can combine files into one attachment (merge word files, or combine files in a PDF).

Q When should I change my goal description (edit the goal)?
Edit your goal when there is a change in end date, a significant change in deliverable or a significant change in how the goal will be accomplished. Managers must approve edits. You can document the reason for your changes in the comments section. You can see a history of description changes via the "View History" link for the goal.

Q When should I cancel a goal?
Cancel a goal when it is no longer a priority for the current performance cycle. Managers must approve cancellations. If only part of goal can be accomplished, and it is agreeable with your manager, you can revise your goal to change its scope rather than cancel it.

Definitions and Examples

Best Practices: SMART goals

Goals should be written in the "SMART" format meaning they are specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented/relevant and time bound.

(Click to display SMART Definitions)

(See Example SMART Goals [pdf])


Create a specific goal rather than a more general one; this means the goal is clear and unambiguous.  Describe the specific work using observable actions, behaviors, or achievements.

A good measure will let an employee know they are making progress toward successful completion of a goal.  It should measure the result or outcome, not the activities.  Not all measures are numbers, sometimes they are objective quality standards. When determining a measure the most common are:

QUANTITY : These can be numbers, percentages, rates or frequencies.   If there are already targets or project numbers they can become the goal.
QUALITY : To identify a quality measure start with outside sources (i.e. national or industry standards, requirements of state or federal funders, best-practices).   If there are none existing, discuss what it would look like if it were successful and identify how that will be known or captured.  

COST: This may be stated in cost-savings, usually at a department or divisional level.

TIMELINESS: Describe an improvement in efficiency or speed of service delivery. Eg. “reduced time from receipt of transcript request to mailing by two days on average.”

Make sure is neither out of reach nor below performance standard

Relevant work is worthwhile because it is aligned with the unit, department and college strategic planning priorities. Relevant goals (when met) drive an organization forward. The accomplishment of individual goals support the plans for the department and division.

It is necessary with goals to have deadlines. Goals should be limited to the rating period in which they are to be completed. It is important to ask if a goal can realistically be accomplished in the time allowed with the given resources.

Goal Categories in myPLAN

All performance documented in myPLAN must fit one of the four Goal Categories: Key Responsibilities, Operational Goals, Professional Development Goals or Service Goals.

(Click to display Goal Category Definitions)

Key Responsibilities

A  Key Responsibility is a significant or main area of work, the reason for the  position. They are often broad enough that multiple tasks performed on a daily basis fall under them. However, if a task is central to the work of  an employee it can be a key responsibility itself. These do not typically  change from year-to-year unless there has been a major change in the core work of the position.

Operational Goals

The main purpose of Operational Goals is to provide direction, and specific targets for an employee's day-to-day work. They typically change from year-to-year and may be specific to a job-related function, a project, or linked to a larger goal at the College or divisional level (cascading). Individual operational goals typically contribute to the needs and priorities of the department and division.

Professional Development Goals

Professional Development Goals focus on the development of skills, knowledge or abilities needed to be successful. They enhance an employee's ability to perform in a current, or desired position, or as an employee of the College. Professional development goals strengthen employees' performance and/or serve the good of the College.

Service Goals

Service is more than just doing your routine job. Service is how you add value to the College through your knowledge, experience, passion and pride in the institution. Service might be participating on committees, assisting in events or using unique talents to make a work unit, department or division more efficient. For example, it can be a process improvement at the individual, department or divisional level. This goal may, or may not, directly relate to what the individual does in his or her position.

Tutorial Videos and User Guides

Below are videos and user guides on managing and documenting key responsibilities and goals during the performance cycle.  

(Note: Video closed captioning may be inconsistent in the Chrome browser. Firefox is recommended.)

All Employees (Reviewees): Managing and Documenting Your Goals

Download User Guide: Managing and Documenting Your Goals (PDF)

For Managers (Reviewers): Manage and Document Your Team's Goals

Download User Guide: Managing and Documenting Your Team's Goals (PDF)