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Continuous Performance Management

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Ongoing conversations between the planning and evaluation steps are an important part of an effective performance management process. These conversations, called Touchpoints, give supervisors an opportunity to informally review with the employee the things they are doing well as well as the areas in which they may need to improve. Supervisors and employees can both benefit from Touchpoints conversations.

illustration of people chatting

What are Touchpoints?

Touchpoints are recurring conversations between supervisors and their employees that go beyond simple status updates or performance conversations. The goal is to create better alignment, productivity, motivation, and growth, but getting there requires employees and supervisors to talk honestly about things that impact their work and experience. These conversations might require touching on what employees find challenging, rewarding, the state of their well-being, or even the strength of their work relationships.

  • Touchpoints strengthen working relationships. 
  • Helps improve productivity, morale, engagement, and a sense of support and belonging across the entire organization.  
  • Helps employees thrive when they receive focused attention from their managers. 
  • Provides an opportunity to discuss topics outside of status updates and their task list.
  • Affords employees the time and permission to partake in ongoing self-reflection and development of deeper self-awareness.
  • Touchpoints are opportunities to strengthen relationships, develop trust, and create a safe environment for the team to talk candidly about what matters to them. 
  • Provides opportunity for supervisors to hone their coaching skills, their listening competencies, and their ability to give clear guidance and feedback. 

How do Touchpoints Work?

  • The employee and supervisor confirm a meeting time to exchange feedback. 
  • Feedback is prepared by the employee and supervisor in advance of the conversation. Use the touchpoints sheet or a sample agenda to help you prepare.
  • The employee and supervisor discuss successes, lessons learned, growth opportunities, short- and long-term goals, and priorities. 
  • The employee and supervisor document the insights, guidance and feedback, as well as any important reflections. 
  • The employee and supervisor agree and arrange to meet again. 

Additional Questions and Answers

Here are some tips for making the most of your Touchpoints:  

  • Bring an agenda of things to talk about.
  • Pick some great questions. Use the Touchpoints Tool as a guide. 
  • Consider where your professional development is right now and where you would like to take it in the short and long term.

In the beginning, you will likely work more on getting rid of blocks and issues that are keeping you from doing your best work.  Later, that will transform into more coaching time as you collaborate on priorities and goals.

Keep all this in mind when planning your Touchpoints and deciding what to focus on.

If you are new to having Touchpoints, it really just takes a few basic steps:

  • Create an agenda: Bring some topics to discuss to build your relationship and learn key things from your supervisor. Use the enclosed Touchpoints tool as a guide. 
  • Ask questions during the meeting: Good questions are a key component of effective meetings, especially in the beginning. Questions will help unearth important insights.  
  • Listen for insights: Listening is an important part of Touchpoints because you are looking to uncover valuable information that will allow you to grow and excel.  Ask follow-up and clarifying questions.
  • Follow up: Ensure progress is made by committing to priorities. Before the meeting ends, agree on what action items for which you are responsible. Cover what needs to get done between now and the beginning of your next Touchpoints meeting.

Over time, your Touchpoints meetings should change as your relationship with your supervisor enhances and you develop new skills. So, keep in mind that this is just a good starter framework and should be adjusted over time.

You can focus on everything from career development, to building rapport, to learning how to improve certain skills, your team, or your department.

Here are some good Touchpoints questions to ask:

  • How could I improve as an employee?
  • How can I help my co-workers succeed?
  • How could I have handled a recent situation differently?
  • What can I add to my plate for a greater challenge?
  • What advice do you have on improving my work-life balance?

Effective questions will help get the conversation started and keep it going in the right direction. The feedback and insights you uncover will help improve your performance and standing in on the team.

Tasks represent what is to be accomplished and contributed to during the current performance period. They are the specific areas or projects to focus on to ensure success.

Examples of tasks:

  • Manage XYZ project as outlined in the project plan.
  • Participate on ABC project team.
  • Updates computer lab requests within two weeks of the last lab each semester to reflect changes for the upcoming year.
  • Works with instructors to meet the needs for curriculum changes without duplicating or wasting supplies.
  • Build and maintain relationships with faculty and students.
  • Manage ABC team to achieve its mission and goals.
  • Support faculty member Johnson on ABC course(s).
  • Manage the department/center budget.
  • Engage with colleagues to develop best practices for our function.

Tasks support established SMART goals and are not necessarily expected to include specific information, timeframes, or measurements. 

Learn more about Touchpoints with this video:

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Performance Best Practices: Live Webinars

Touchpoint conversations are recurring meetings between supervisors and their team members. In this course, learn more about Touchpoints and how to approach these conversations in order to be involved, and how this positively impacts your work.

This course is available during the performance planning time frame. Go to the Learning Library and search "best practices" to find the current active trainings that are available.

Planning and executing an effective one-on-one Touchpoints meeting is key to strengthening working relationships and helping improve productivity and engagement. Touchpoints can be casual, on-the-fly meetings, but they can also be during one-on-ones between a supervisor and employee. Touchpoints do not always have to be about performance either. Learn the different types of Touchpoint meetings and how best to plan, effectively facilitate, and successfully follow through on these conversations.

By the end of the course, you will know how to:

  • Learn to use proven meeting planning and preparation techniques.
  • Develop effective meeting facilitation and participation techniques.
  • Understand the importance of accurate documentation and follow-up.

This course is available during the performance planning time frame. Go to the Learning Library and search "best practices" to find the current active trainings that are available.

Continuing the conversation about Touchpoints, this course is designed for the employee. In this course, learn how to be involved in your performance process beyond striving toward your goals. Understand the benefits of self-reflection, how to advocate for yourself, and how to ask for further feedback.

This course is available during the performance planning time frame. Go to the Learning Library and search "best practices" to find the current active trainings that are available.

A work journal is an incredible tool for both looking at the past, recording wins, and also noting where you should go next. It is a great way to keep your goals aligned, stay organized, and document for the end of the performance cycle. In this course, learn the STAR method of organizing your journal entries, how often you should consider documenting, and other benefits outside of performance management.

This course is available during the performance planning time frame. Go to the Learning Library and search "best practices" to find the current active trainings that are available.

Checking in with your team is easier once you have the right communication tool that works for your team members regardless of location. Easily know what's happening with updates that not only work for performance momentum but also build team culture as you work together. Discover and practice with tools that are readily available through Microsoft and Google as well as others you may not have considered in this way.

This course is available during the performance planning time frame. Go to the Learning Library and search "best practices" to find the current active trainings that are available.


For more information about the performance management cycle and other helpful links visit the following pages: