Talent Development & Performance Management Checklist

Few teams start out full of rockstars. In fact, most of the time your teams will consist of a mix of individuals – high-performing individuals working next door to a newbie in the role with lots of potential. The make-it-or-break-it for these teams lies in the manager’s ability to develop and manage each individual. The below checklist is a starting point to help you gauge the health of your talent development and management strategy within the framework I use with clients. No strategy checks every box, but if you have a strong framework in place, you should hit at least 80% of these both overall and within each section. 

Feeling overwhelmed? If your organization has very few of these things, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are my First Three – the first three things you should work on to build strong talent development practices. 


1. All staff are receiving a mid-year and end-of-year evaluation. This might not be standardized, and you may have questions about rigor and norming across the network, but it’s happening and evals are in writing and stored somewhere (the internet, an employee file – somewhere that isn’t a stack on the principal’s desk). 


2. Teachers and instructional staff receive regular observations and feedback. Informal evaluations and ongoing feedback is critical to developing talent.


3. Managers believe that one of their highest priorities is to develop and manage their teams, and they have the resources and time to do that well.

Ideal State

Vision, Goals & Strategy

  • There is a clear vision on when, how, and how often feedback is given.
  • Goals are aligned to overall talent philosophy and vision statement
  • Historical performance management data was utilized to set realistic yet ambitious goals that meet the organization’s need
  • Goals are rigorous and have a clear impact on student impact across the organization (e.g. >X% of each school’s teachers score Meets Expectations or above on evals)
  • Goals address the quality of instruction and leadership within schools and across the network
  • Leadership and relevant teams buy-in to goals and played a role in developing goals (if relevant for their role)
  • Clear strategy is in place to achieve goals; includes specific tactics, milestones, metrics, and owners
  • An overarching performance management calendar is published for leaders and staff to visibly see critical deadlines and activities

enabling Structures & mindsets

  • A team in HR/Talent dedicated to driving and overseeing the performance management cycle
  • The organization has a culture of feedback
  • Managers believe a critical component of their job is developing their team members, and managers are evaluated on their ability to develop and train others

Process, Systems & Tools

  • A system is in place and is effectively used to formally evaluate all employees at least twice a year (mid-year and end-of-year)
  • A system is in place to capture observation data and feedback from classroom observations and walkthroughs
  • School leaders use a standardized framework or tool to objectively measure teachers’ instructional skills and soft skills (e.g. a rubric)
  • The evaluation cycle is standardized across schools and network managers to ensure equity 
  • Templates and forms exist for all standardized aspects of the performance management cycle 
  • Framework exists that shows the progression of skills required to advance in leadership or increase role responsibilities (e.g. a competency map or rubric)

Manager Training & Execution

  • Managers receive training and coaching on how to: 
            • conduct observations (formal and informal) and evaluations 
            • use org-specific processes and tools
            • have tough conversations
            • stay within legal and ethical boundaries when evaluating employees
            • write performance improvement plans and fire
            • coach staff 
            • create development plans for staff
  • Norming training occurs regularly to ensure evaluations are equitable and standardized across the organization
  • Managers complete necessary evaluations and observations within the designated time frame

Staff Training & communication

  • Staff receive regular communications about performance management activities/timelines
  • Staff receive regular feedback (positive and areas of growth) on their performance
  • Staff receive training on all tools used in the performance management cycle
  • Staff have access to see all competency maps and understand what skills they must develop to move up to the next level in the organization
  • Promotion criteria and the process to be promoted are written down and communicated to staff regularly
  • All staff are made aware when promotion opportunities arise (or staff know where to find information on potential opportunities)
  • Staff have access to development opportunities and trainings (internal or external) that are aligned to the competencies most needed to further develop their skills. Training opportunities may be internal or external.


  • Performance management data is analyzed for trends across lines of race, gender, age/tenure, disability, and any other demographic collected by the org
  • Discrepancies discovered through the above data review are addressed
  • All managers have participated in anti-bias training specific to performance management, evaluating employees, and providing feedback
  • The performance management/evaluation process is regularly audited to eliminate discriminatory practices and add in more inclusive practices (e.g. ensuring women are not unfairly penalized in performance reviews for behavior that when exhibited by men are considered “leadership” skills)
  • Performance management rubrics and tools have been edited for language that is characteristic of white supremacy culture or sexist, ableist, or ageist in nature. 
  • DEI competencies are included in how staff and leaders are evaluated
  • Participants in training and development opportunities are reflective of the overall staff demographic

Impact & results

  • Through surveys (or other data collection), staff report they receive regular feedback, both positive and critical, from their manager
  • Staff report positive experiences with the performance management cycle
  • Managers report they feel comfortable and confident leading performance management for their teams
  • Some orgs may decide to set specific goals around performance management and evaluations, such as:
            • X% YOY improvement in Y competency
            • X% of staff at a Meets Expectations or higher in Core Values
            • The overall evaluation average for the organization is X.XX
  • Internal trainings or cohort experiences are rated as effective by participants and their managers. 
  • Newly promoted individuals are rated as prepared or ready for the role by their manager.

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