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  2. 2. Table of Contents Introduction p. 4  What is Performance Management?  What is it not?  Goals of Performance Management  Benefits of Effective Performance Management The Performance Management Cycle p. 6  The Performance Management Cycle  Roles in Performance Management Phase I: Performance Planning p. 8  What is Performance Planning? o Levels of Goals  Setting Individual Goals o Goals/Work Priorities o Professional Development  Setting Goals/Work Priorities o What kind of goals should be set? o Examples  Planning Professional Development o What is professional development? o Whose responsibility is it? o Examples  Be S.M.A.R.T. About It! Phase II: Ongoing Coaching and Feedback p. 13  Coaching and Feedback o What is Coaching? “Coaching is not an o Benefits of Coaching addition to a leader’s job; o What does coaching sound like? o Types of Feedback it is an integral part of it.” o Communication Tips for Coaching and Feedback - George S. Odiome  Documentation o Ideas for documenting and observing employee performance o Guidelines for Documentation Page 2 of 35
  3. 3. Phase III: Performance Review p. 18  Desired Outcomes for the Performance Review  Preparing for the Performance Review o Thinking o Writing o Preparing for the meeting  Pitfalls to Avoid in Performance Reviews  Sample Meeting Agenda  Tips for During the Meeting  Managing Problem Performance  Recognizing Outstanding Performance The Performance Appraisal Process p. 25  The Performance Appraisal Form  Incorporating the Unit Plan and/Department Goals  Administration Notes o Forms on the Web o Required Signatures o Timing and Deadlines o Eligibility  Pay for Performance  HRM Contacts Appendices p. 28  Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  Preparing for the Review – Employee  Sample Goal Planning Worksheet Page 3 of 35
  4. 4. Introduction What is Performance Management? Performance management is the continuous observation and influence of employee performance throughout the year. It includes:  Coaching  Mentoring  Feedback  Positive reinforcement  Role modeling  Work-related counseling and advising  Recognition and rewards for top performance  Formal written performance appraisals It is an important component of the University’s commitment to striving for and achieving excellence. The philosophy behind the University’s performance management program is that every college, area, department, and job within the institution is uniquely responsible for creating value for the institution, or for making its own contribution to the Unit Plan and/or Department Goals. Every job should be an indispensable part of the whole. What is it not?  Performance Management is not ―just the form‖, just as carpentry is not just a hammer or a saw. The forms are tools used during the process, not an end by themselves.  Unlike in the cartoon above, it is not a once-a-year event, but rather the whole ongoing and repeating cycle. Page 4 of 35
  5. 5. Goals of Performance Management The Northeastern University performance management program seeks to achieve the following:  To create and foster ongoing, two-way communication  To clarify expectations between the manager and the employee  To focus on behavior that will have the most impact on organizational results  To enhance and increase employee and organizational performance in the competitive environment by maximizing current talents and developing new ones  To link individual employee behavior with the Unit Plan and/or Department Goals by placing actions within the context of the University mission  To assist employees in reaching personal and professional goals that are consistent with the goals of the organization by formalizing employee development and developmental planning Benefits of Effective Performance Management A performance management system that is understood by all parties involved and effectively implemented offers many benefits to employees, managers, and the University as a whole:  Relevant, concise performance feedback and balanced performance appraisals position employees for success and future growth.  When expectations are clear, objective measures are agreed upon, and coaching is consistent and ongoing, employees will ―own‖ their performance and professional development. Managers will be seen as helpful and candid resources that guide and direct their employees’ performance.  Communication will improve: The ongoing coaching and feedback that enhances your employee’s work performance and professional development will increase trust and respect. Managers will be perceived as leaders with fair and high standards.  With objective measures, problem performance is quickly noticed and can be more easily managed. Behavior that results in exceptional performance can become a model for others.  Observing performance patterns over time gives managers strategic information about individual and team potential, persistent performance gaps, and future priorities.  Performance is aligned with University objectives, providing a sense of direction and focus for employees at all levels.  Employee skill and motivation will increase, ultimately improving employee morale and reducing turnover. Page 5 of 35
  6. 6. The Performance Management Cycle We tend to think of performance appraisal as a yearly event, when it is actually an ongoing P R O C E S S: Performance Planning Coaching and Feedback Performance Review Phase I: Performance Planning This first phase of the process is a dialogue between a manager and employee to establish clear, specific performance expectations, preferably at the beginning of the performance cycle. However, the goals set as part of this phase should be re-evaluated throughout the year to deal with changes in departmental priorities and new information. Phase II: Ongoing Coaching and Feedback The second phase is a series of two-way discussions focusing on communicating about work progress and providing feedback on performance. It also involves regularly observing, monitoring and documenting performance throughout the year. Phase III: Performance Review The final phase is a summary discussion and written documentation reviewing employee performance, areas of excellence, goals for improvement, and professional development. This phase is the culmination of the first two phases, as it is both a review of progress achieved towards the goals set in Phase I as well as a summary of the ongoing coaching that has occurred during the past year. Page 6 of 35
  7. 7. Roles in Performance Management One thing to remember is that you as a manager are not alone in this process. There are shared accountabilities throughout the process at all levels. Do not hesitate to tap into additional resources as you need them. The Manager The Employee  Shared accountability  Shared accountability  Actively coach and mentor employees  Proactively provide input  Clarify business direction and focus  Continual self assessment  Identify resources for employee  Work with manager to set and achieve development goals and work priorities  Identify obstacles  Take personal ownership for development HRM NU School/Area Leadership  Provide the tools, training, and guidelines  Define and communicate University/area to managers and school administrators mission and goals  Design and administer performance  Identify resources for employee management and compensation programs development  Consult with managers and employees on  Assist in administration of performance the program processes or individual issues management program in consultation with HRM . Page 7 of 35
  8. 8. Phase I: Performance Planning What is Performance Planning? Performance planning is the first step in the performance management process. It is a dialogue between a manager and employee to:  Align job expectations with overall strategic plans, department goals, and the job description for the position  Establish and agree upon performance expectations and goals  Clarify and document the evaluation criteria that will be used in Phase III – Performance Evaluation  Set the stage for ongoing feedback and coaching throughout the year  Create a partnership based on two-way communication  Identify sources for feedback on the employee’s performance (optional) Levels of goals The most significant part of planning is goal setting. Goal setting is more than being organized or ambitious; it is good planning and an integral part of achieving success. Goals are set on many different levels - for the entire University, individual colleges, small departments, and individual employees. Cascading goals in this way creates a line of sight between the highest-level strategic goals and the everyday activities of the most junior employee. This link strengthens the meaning and purpose of an employee’s job, resulting in increased internal motivation and enhanced performance. Setting Individual Goals At the individual level, there are two aspects of goal setting and planning: 1) Goals/work priorities These are specific accomplishments that are agreed upon by the manager and the employee at the beginning of a performance review year to be accomplished by the end of the year. These goals will probably be different for each employee and should change from year to year. These are not the Key Responsibility Areas as listed in the Job Scope Description, which are much broader in scope and should be relatively stable over the years. There is no space on the current Performance Appraisal form to list employees’ goals for the year. Managers may use the sample planning sheet available at the end of this guidebook and on the HRM web site, or simply list the goals on a separate sheet of paper. Page 8 of 35
  9. 9. 2) Professional development This part of the planning process focuses on developing knowledge, skills, and abilities of the employee that will improve job performance, enhance contributions to the University as a whole, and advance the career goals of the individual employee. Documentation for this area is covered in the Development Discussions section of the performance appraisal. Setting Goals/Work Priorities Establishing work goals and priorities is the first step in developing individual performance and professional development plans. In order to be effective and meaningful, goals and work priorities need to be connected to department priorities and University strategic initiatives. This connection ensures that work is consistent with department efforts. Goal setting should be a collaborative process between managers and employees, although it is the manager’s responsibility to look at the department and area needs from a strategic level and drive the process. The end of the performance appraisal meeting is a good time to turn the focus to the upcoming year and set goals, but this is not the only time to do it. If goals, projects, timeframes, and/or expected results change during the year, remember to discuss the changes with your employee. Goals should be reviewed frequently to ensure progress and make adjustments as they are needed. This will happen easily if you regularly schedule and hold one-on-one meetings with each staff person. What kind of goals should be set? Simply put, goals should be set around work that needs to be done. This work may be project-oriented and lend itself to goal setting by nature, or it may be a baseline level of ongoing activities that are necessary to ―keep the shop open.‖ Skill-building and professional development activities are considered part of the professional development planning process and are discussed in more detail in the next section. For each goal that is set, identify how success will be measured, the resources that are available, and a timeline. Try to articulate how the goal is aligned with and supports departmental and University goals. In the context of work priorities, there are three basic types of goals:  Accomplishment of a project/job task  Improvement of a process  Improvement of individual performance Some staff may find it difficult to identify meaningful goals/work priorities for the Performance Management process. To help expand your thinking about the kinds of goals that you can set with your employee, listed below are some examples: Page 9 of 35
  10. 10. Examples: Accomplishment of a project:  Chair a search committee to hire a new staff member by (date)  Update the department brochure by (date), have it printed by (date)  Design student information packets and distribute by (date)  Create a web page for the office by (date) Improvement of a process:  Reduce delays in the processing of accounting reports  Reduce steps and time required to enroll a student in courses  Provide more information in varying formats during employee orientation sessions  Computerize a previously manual process Improvement of individual performance:  Organize workload to accomplish job duties more effectively  Improve written communication by attending training and applying learned skills  Deliver more attentive and timely service to clients  Actively participate in staff meetings and on department work teams. Planning Professional Development What is professional development? Professional development is:  Acquisition of new skills/abilities  Gaining experience by taking on different and challenging responsibilities  Increasing knowledge and expertise  Continuous and ongoing learning Professional development truly is a win-win situation. Employees benefit from an enhanced skill set, greater confidence, and increased professional qualifications. Managers and the University benefit from a more highly skilled workforce and increased motivation. Goals around professional development should be set just as goals that are directly job-related, and should be documented in the performance appraisal form. Whose responsibility is it? Most experts on career development believe the employee should have the final responsibility for managing and developing his or her own career. The manager can help in many ways, but should remain a helper – not a decision-maker, but rather a facilitator of decisions. Page 10 of 35
  11. 11. Employees usually have varying reactions and interest levels to the idea of professional development; some are very interested and eager to take a great deal of initiative, while others need some help and encouragement to expand their skills and abilities. Employees who are not so receptive to the idea may view it as burdensome and time-consuming, stressful, competitive, and outside the scope of their ―real‖ job. The point to emphasize with these employees is that professional development is truly an investment on everyone’s part – on the part of the employee, the manager, and the University, in terms of time, resources, money, and energy. However, it is an investment with a high rate of return that will pay rewards in the forms of increased skills, competence, confidence, and mobility. Examples In addition to asking your employee directly, take a moment and observe your employees: What projects and assignments do they volunteer for? What ideas do they contribute? Some ideas are as follows: On the Job Training  Cross-training  Formal training, education, and developmental programs  University-sponsored courses and training  Seminars and workshops  Conferences  College/University courses –inside or outside of Northeastern University  Adult education courses, such as Boston Center for Adult Education Task Assignments  Working with colleagues on new or challenging projects  Job or task rotation  Filling in for another staff member at meetings or during vacations  Participating on task forces, committees, and special projects Other  Reading books, trade/industry journals, etc.  Visiting other departments, sites, organizations to observe and learn about a different part of the University  Joining professional organizations  Joining a University committee Be S.M.A.R.T. About It! Regardless of whether the goals set are around work priorities or areas of professional development, a good way to check the effectiveness of written goals is to remember the following criteria: Specific Focus on specific results rather than general or vague actions. Simple yet specific goals ensure clarity. Complex goals should be broken into sub-goals. Be clear Page 11 of 35
  12. 12. about what you want to accomplish. An objective that is too general will require more action steps than are effective. Measurable To determine how well a goal has been achieved, the results should be quantitative (measures amount of output) and qualitative (measures how well the task was done). How will you know when you have been successful? What are the indicators of success? You should be able to monitor and gauge progress in objective terms. Attainable The best goals are challenging, realistic, and achievable. They focus on significant contributions required to meet department and University goals. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given year. Too often we set ourselves and our work teams up for failure because our expectations are too high given the amount of time, skill, or resources we have to accomplish a goal. Relevant Goals must align with and support the goals of the department, the school/division, and the University as a whole. Employee goals should meet or exceed the needs of all parties, including internal and/or external customers. Choose goals that are important to strive for in your work, and those that will have the most impact in your workplace. The objective should relate directly to department and University objectives. Time-based A specific target date for achieving each goal should be agreed upon. Time frames ensure a proactive approach toward achieving results. You should be able to track progress against specified time frames. When the goal-setting process is complete, the following questions should be answered:  What do I need to do?  How will I know when I’ve done it?  Why should I do it?  When does it need to be finished? Complete and effective goal setting at the beginning of the cycle will prove to be invaluable when preparing the formal evaluation at the end of the year (Phase III: Performance Review). Page 12 of 35
  13. 13. Phase II: Ongoing Coaching, Feedback, and Documentation Coaching and Feedback Throughout the year, performance discussions with the employee should take place on a frequent but informal basis. If managers provide feedback only once a year during the annual performance appraisal meeting, the employee never gets the opportunity to change his or her behavior during the year. This process of ongoing performance feedback is part of the larger process of coaching. What is coaching? Coaching is an ongoing process of communication between the manager and employee focused on improving current performance and building capabilities for the future. The person being coached not only learns new skills and becomes more effective but also gains the ability to further develop himself/herself in the absence of the coach. A good coach will strive to create a learning environment where the person being coached is given the resources necessary to enhance his/her skills, where intelligent and responsible risk-taking is not just tolerated but encouraged, where barriers to self-improvement are eliminated and where job assignments are designed to create a learning experience. Coaching may include a variety of activities, such as:  Providing hands-on instruction or demonstration  Directing and focusing the employee’s efforts  Listening to employee concerns and ideas and providing encouragement  Suggesting action plans that match the employee’s learning style  Reaffirming the employee’s value or potential value to the University  Identifying developmental needs for current and/or potential positions  Discussing progress toward professional development goals on an ongoing basis  Engaging in problem solving to identify and discuss challenges that are preventing the employee from achieving goals  Suggesting ways to modify and improve the employee’s approach  Supporting and encouraging employee efforts, whether successful or not  Taking advantage of ―teachable moments‖ with on-the-spot brainstorming, problem-solving, and feedback  Observing, monitoring, and documenting performance throughout the year  Providing regular, timely feedback, both positive and developmental Benefits of coaching  Improves individual employee’s performance and results  Gives employees an opportunity to express their needs, concerns, expectations and to participate in their own development Page 13 of 35
  14. 14.  Provides an opportunity to re-focus employee and manager efforts  Increases employee motivation by increasing competence and confidence  Helps build relationships by encouraging communication and establishing trust  Builds commitment and loyalty by showing willingness to invest in the employee  Provides documentation that helps identify employee strengths and manage their areas for improvement  Provides a context through which to guide future performance The goal of coaching is not to find fault, but to improve performance and encourage professional growth. Coaching is not only for new employees or marginal performers. Employees who are already high performers can benefit from coaching to further increase their performance, learn new skills and responsibilities and feel valued for their contributions. What does coaching sound like? Because coaching encompasses such a wide range of activities, it may be hard to imagine exactly what coaching sounds like. Read the examples below and see if the phrasing in the example column sounds familiar; many managers already communicate with their employees in a similar way on a regular basis. Managers who use coaching skills to manage performance tend to: Action Example Observe what is happening: ―I see that this problem keeps occurring …‖ Engage the employee in dialogue: ―What do you think is happening here?‖ Listen carefully and ask open ended ―What else has an impact on this?‖ questions: Acknowledge what has been said and ―I see; I understand what happens.‖ withhold judgment: Clarify meanings and summarize: ―So you think that the problem occurs when . . .‖ Specify expectations and desired ―I need an accurate database up and working by next results: Wednesday‖ Open up possibilities and look for ―What if we came at this from a different angle and…‖ alternatives: Reach agreement on action: ―Can I count on your getting this done by then?‖ Types of feedback Just as it would not be reasonable to expect to get to a particular location if the pilot or captain of the ship had no navigational information, it is not reasonable to expect a person to develop in any particular direction without performance feedback. However, feedback in the form of an annual appraisal simply won't ―cut it‖ any more than a single reading of the instrument panel at any one point in time could effectively enable a pilot to fly from New York to Los Angeles. Feedback is needed at many points along the way and is especially valuable when one is veering off course. Corrective Feedback This kind of feedback attempts to change the specific behavior of an employee. Page 14 of 35
  15. 15. Make an observation describing the situation that needs changing; this will be your key message. Don’t add extraneous information. Don’t make assumptions. Wait to hear from the employee. Depending on the situation, you may want to:  Repeat your key message  Expand on your key message  Highlight the implications, both positive and negative Once you jump in and own the problem, the employee is off the hook. Give the employee ample opportunity to figure out what needs to happen to correct the problem and to avoid making the same mistake twice. As always in performance management, focus on the problem, not the person. Defensiveness is a normal reaction to correction; concentrating on specific behaviors and examples rather than personality traits will minimize the level of defensiveness. Example: ―When I don’t receive your reports on time… Describe …I feel frustrated and angry because I can’t submit my report on time. Express I need to receive your reports by 3 o’clock on Friday afternoons. Specify If you do, it will satisfy our expectation of resource management. Positive consequence If you do not, it will hurt the department performance. Negative consequence Is there anything I can do to help?‖ Support Positive Feedback: Positive feedback is reinforcing performance through an active effort to praise particular actions and accomplishments. It recognizes employees and lets the individual know exactly what was done well and why that is important. The most reliable form of reinforcement is recognition and praise. Look for these opportunities – don’t fall into the no-news-is-good-news trap! Example: ―When your gave your presentation to the task force … Describe …I felt proud of you and the work we’ve done. Express I’d like to see you continue to use those skills in the work ahead.‖ Specify Communication tips for coaching and feedback With coaching and feedback, it is important to focus not only on the message, but also on the delivery. How feedback is communicated to an employee can make the difference between defensive rejection of the message and grateful acceptance. Some guidelines for the nature and delivery of feedback are:  Be selective: Reserve corrective feedback for key payoff areas. Spend your time and effort in areas that will nurture the important aspects of performance.  Plan your delivery: Know the essential messages you want to convey. Consider the listener and what you know about this person. Frame your message in a way the listener can understand. Page 15 of 35
  16. 16.  Be specific: Avoid generalities, such as ―always‖ and ―never‖. General feedback does not help a person know what or how to change to be more effective. Telling people they did a bad job is demoralizing and not instructive; praise should likewise be specific. In order for someone to intentionally repeat a good behavior he/she needs to know just what that behavior is. To avoid repeating negative behaviors, the person must understand precisely what the negative behavior is that should be altered.  Be descriptive: Talk about what you saw or heard rather than conclusions you may have drawn about the person from your observations. Observations are generally accepted as fact, while conclusions are often rejected as incorrect assumptions.  Listen: After you have finished delivering your message, listen carefully to the answers – both verbal and nonverbal. Verify that the message was received and understood; summarize and paraphrase to check your own understanding. Ask open-ended questions to get more information, and then listen some more.  Explore alternatives: Often people do what appears to them to be the only course of action available at the time. Stress of the moment can limit the alternatives that the employee sees. Effective feedback will encourage a broader range of vision that includes other alternatives. Help the employee think through alternatives; if you make suggestions, suggest action plans that match the employee’s style.  Be prompt: Time delays allow for mistakes to be repeated and learned. Feedback should occur in a time frame close to the event or behavior under consideration. Long time delays between the event and the feedback tend to dilute any positive impact the feedback might have. To have a significant impact on performance, feedback should occur regularly and not as an isolated event occurring only on a pre-determined schedule.  Be confidential: Show the proper respect for the person by choosing the appropriate time and location. Ideally, feedback, whether positive or negative, should be given face to face and in private. Such communication via e-mail, voice-mail or memos makes it difficult for the recipient to get clarification or to ask questions. It also makes the feedback seem impersonal and by so doing may either dilute its impact or alienate the receiver of the feedback.  Be sensitive. Feedback should be delivered with empathy and sensitivity. It is important to remember that the goal of the feedback is to positively impact behavior and to help the individual, the organization or the system grow and develop. It is no surprise that feedback delivered in a hostile, negative or uncaring manner is likely to generate resentment and hostility. Try to recall some situations when you have been on the receiving end of feedback – how was it delivered? Put yourself in the employee’s shoes for a moment.  Keep it up: It seems logical that the greater the amount and rate of change, the greater the need for feedback. Yesterday's feedback and information may no longer be useful when the rules of the playing field have changed and the nature of the behaviors needed for success have been altered. Coaches present feedback to their players throughout the entire game, not just the first half, so keep going. Page 16 of 35
  17. 17. Documentation Although it may seem difficult, time-consuming, and a hassle, there are many reasons to keep continuous and detailed notes on employee performance. It is recommended that managers maintain their own folders for each of their employees containing meeting notes, observations, copies of e-mail messages and other communications produced by the employee, and other documentation as appropriate. These records will serve multiple purposes:  Serve as memory aids to recall past events or incidents  Provide instant documentation when writing the performance appraisal  Support the coaching and feedback processes by providing specific examples Ideas for documenting and observing employee performance  Review work completed by the employee  Observe employee work activity firsthand  Ask the employee for a self-reported progress update  Consult with others regarding employee performance  Understand and outline important job duties  Record the outcome and accomplishments of special projects and critical incidents Guidelines for documentation  Be accurate; focus on objective and supported facts  Be balanced and fair  Focus on job performance and goal accomplishment rather than personality issues or non-work related aspects of the employee  Document incidents that describe all levels of performance, not just unsatisfactory or outstanding Just as with goal setting, a little time spent along the way will make the work of preparing, writing, and discussing the performance appraisal much easier. Page 17 of 35
  18. 18. Phase III: Performance Review The final phase in the performance management cycle, the performance review, is what most people think of when they hear the term ―performance management.‖ This annual review should be a culmination of the past year’s discussions between the manager and the employee about the employee’s performance. The performance review consists of two parts: Written document: A completed Performance Appraisal form that outlines expectations of the employee and reviews performance against these expectations. This document should summarize critical goals and the results achieved, as well as establish an overall summary rating for the employee. Meeting: A formal face-to-face meeting between the manager and the employee to review the last year’s performance, plan goals and work priorities for the coming year, and identify key areas for future professional development. Although the annual performance review process brings closure to the past year, it also signifies the beginning of the upcoming year. Although time constraints may not allow both a review of the past year’s performance and goal setting for the upcoming year to occur entirely in the same meeting, the Development section (Part IV) of the performance appraisal form must be filled out in order for the appraisal to be considered complete. Desired outcomes for the performance review After these two pieces are completed, the following should be true:  Employee is not surprised, and feels evaluated fairly  Employee’s self-esteem is supported in that he or she is assured of his or her value or potential value to the University  Working relationship between the manager and employee is maintained or improved  The employee and the manager engage in meaningful dialogue about the employee’s performance in relation to established measures  Managers assist their employees in planning and implementing methods to improve performance  An accurate formal record of job performance is established  Professional development and career pathing issues are discussed and planned  Objectives and priorities for the coming year are documented The goal of this meeting is not to solve all of the problems within the meeting, nor is it to solve problems for the employee. Rather, this is the time to address performance issues, begin the collaborative problem-solving process, and provide the employee with the necessary resources to solve the problems by him or herself. The performance appraisal form lists spaces for actions to be taken by both the manager and the employee; appropriately, both parties should contribute to the problem- Page 18 of 35
  19. 19. solving effort. And of course, it is not intended to be an adversarial confrontation, but rather a continuation of the partnership and team effort towards a common goal. Preparing for the Performance Review Thinking  Thoroughly review all your information and documentation to make certain you are clear in your own mind about your evaluation of the employee’s performance.  Compare actual performance to objectives.  Solicit input and feedback from others, as appropriate.  Brainstorm possible future goals and competency development needs. Writing  Concentrate on a document that will be read often and not just by the employee (employee’s spouse, friends, other people in the University), to avoid as much as possible anything personal. Preparing for the meeting  Give the form to employees early enough so that they have time to read and react.  Set up ample time in an appropriately private place for the meeting when you can devote individual attention to the employee and all the relevant issues. Notify the employee in advance so that he or she has a chance to prepare for the meeting as well (see Appendix).  Review sensitive issues with your manager, if appropriate.  Plan ways to keep the conversation focused on employee performance.  Prepare open-ended questions to solicit the employee’s feedback and encourage two-way communication during the review meeting.  Prepare how to state the feedback and manage the emotional level. Pitfalls to Avoid in Performance Reviews Error Description Recency Effect Reviewing only the most recent performance and not taking into account events throughout the entire year Lenience Error (Halo Allowing excellent performance in one area to overshadow the review of Effect) performance in other areas Harshness error (Horns Allowing unsatisfactory performance in one area to overshadow the Effect) review of performance in other areas Central Tendency Error Selecting a middle or average rating to describe all performance; lack of differentiation among employees Low Tolerance Error Rating everyone low because of excessively high standards High Tolerance Error Rating everyone high in order to avoid conflict or hurt feelings Lack of Information Making evaluations with incomplete information Avoidance Reluctant to discuss problem Contrast Error Performance-rating error in which an employee’s evaluation is biased either upward or downward because of comparison with another employee just previously evaluated Page 19 of 35
  20. 20. To help avoid these errors:  Keep documentation (notes, e-mail, etc.) throughout the year, both on accomplishments and needs for improvement  Ask your employees to also keep documentation  Allow enough time before the review meeting to think and reflect on the events of the past year  Ask the employee to review his/her own performance as additional input to the discussion Sample Meeting Agenda If you are not sure how to structure the actual performance appraisal meeting, here is a sample agenda. However, feel free to use your judgment as to the best order of topics given each individual situation. Set the stage  Build rapport: Try to put the employee at ease. Performance reviews are just as difficult for the employee as they are for many managers. Make some introductory comments to encourage the employee to talk  Explain the purpose of the meeting and go over your agenda.  Encourage the employee’s involvement and participation. Make sure to give him or her time to find the right words. Don’t assume you know what an employee might say; let them say it their way. Review employee’s assessment  Let the employee know that you have made an evaluation of his/her performance, but that you would like to know the employee's self-assessment first. Compare results vs. expectations  You may wish to outline your key messages with examples listed under each; some people find it helpful to also list the key words and phrases that they want to mention. Discuss reasons for successes and problems  Begin the collaborative problem-solving process by brainstorming and thinking out loud together. Summarize trends  As a manager, you are responsible for helping the employee see the big picture; point out performance trends and patterns, both positive and negative. Plan for the upcoming year  Plan and list work goals/priorities.  Plan and list professional development activities. Closing  Have the employee sign the review.  End the meeting on a positive, optimistic note. Page 20 of 35
  21. 21. Tips for During the Meeting Use your coaching communication skills The performance appraisal meeting should be a continuation of the feedback delivered throughout the year, so refer back to the tips on page 15 for advice on how to present your message most effectively. Aim for consensus, but do not force it As described above, the performance conference should be a give-and-take session in which you examine areas of agreement and disagreement. For example, the employee might disagree with one of your judgments. Hear the employee out— there may be information you have overlooked, or there may be an ―assumed intention‖ or other inference from the actual behavior/ outcome that has crept into your analysis, rather than a fact. Give your perspective; show the employee that you are interested in giving a fair hearing with an open mind as to the facts. If you think, on reflection, that a judgment should be changed then do so. Of course, remember that the final appraisal judgments are your responsibility. The employee always has the option of disagreeing with your judgments and may submit a written response under the Employee Comments section. If significant new information comes to light in your conversation, don’t be afraid to reconsider your evaluation or revise the wording in the written document. It is not a negotiating session, however. If you have done a thorough job of preparation, significant new information during the meeting will be a rarity. Focus on performance, not personality Think job accountabilities only. This means that the emphasis should be on actual performance. Traits such as attitude, integrity, dependability, or appearance should be mentioned only as they relate to performance. Emphasize the future. It is important to remember that ―what's done is done‖ and that the primary focus of the conference should be on next year's performance. During the meeting, place significant emphasis on how future performance expectations can be achieved and how improvement areas can be addressed. Past performance and difficulties should be viewed as, and communicated as, ―lessons‖ for the future. Employees often ask, ―When did I do this?‖ Have specific examples to support your comments and evaluations. Manage the emotional level Emotions can rise, particularly when the discussion centers on behavior that is below expectations. It is important that you do not become angry. Letting the employee ―vent‖ may be a good way to gather information, but be careful not to let emotions get carried away or dictate the tone of the rest of the meeting. Listen carefully to try to understand the real reasons that the employee is upset. Restate the employee's position in your own words to confirm your understanding. You may want to restate your own position. If emotions get too strong, consider postponing the remainder of the session. Ask the employee if he or she thinks that might be a good idea, and reschedule the remainder of the conference for a specific date, place and time as appropriate to allow for a cooling-off time. Page 21 of 35
  22. 22. Conclude on a positive note Whenever possible, make certain that the employee leaves the conference in a positive frame of mind instead of being resentful toward any negative aspects of the discussion. At a minimum, the employee should feel that it was worthwhile to discuss his or her performance and know what needs to be done to improve future performance. Look at the whole picture Remember that you’re dealing with an entire year’s performance. Try not to be swayed by the good or bad performance of the most immediate past (e.g., what happened last week). Likewise, look at all aspects of an employee’s job as outlined in the job description to get a well-rounded view of his or her responsibilities, and not just the most prominent. No surprises! The things you want to say to the employee may be more detailed than your previous conversations, but it’s neither effective nor fair to hit an employee in a formal review with issues that have never been addressed. When coaching and performance feedback happen throughout the year, there is ample opportunity for the employee to make needed adjustments to his/her performance. Know your limits A reminder - you’re not a therapist. Show all the concern you can about personal issues that the employee discusses with you and suggest appropriate help if you can, but avoid giving personal and/or non-job related advice. Managing Problem Performance What if the employee is not meeting expectations at the time of their performance review? While each situation will be unique and due to a different combination of factors, there are some basic steps that managers can undertake to address performance issues. For detailed HR guidance concerning your specific situation, however, please be sure to contact the HRM Consultant for your department. First, be sure that it is a significant and chronic performance problem and not a ―bad day‖ or miscommunication. Complete this checklist as a self-test.  Were you explicit and clear about the work to be done?  Did you verify understanding?  Were check-in times set for monitoring progress?  Did you provide performance-based feedback?  Did the employee have the skills and resources necessary for success?  Did an unanticipated problem affect progress? Page 22 of 35
  23. 23. After you have determined that a significant or chronic performance problem does exist for this employee, you may wish to take the following steps, either in the annual review meeting or in a separate conversation: 1. Get the employee’s agreement that a problem exists and that his or her performance needs improvement. While you will need to consider carefully how to present this information to the employee, it is important to get him/her to agree that there is a problem. For many people, the best way to get agreement that a problem exists is to discuss the real results of poor performance. For example, explain how work delayed or done inadequately affects other employees, students, other offices, or other customers and why this is unacceptable. 2. Mutually discuss solutions. Maintain a problem-solving orientation. Begin by clearly articulating the problem situation and asking the employee to help identify what you and he/she can do together to help solve it. Do not place blame or find fault. Try to avoid words or phrases like ―you shouldn’t have done x or y‖ or ―if only you were more interested/motivated . . .‖ Instead, focus on the future and on what the employee can do from now on that will meet performance standards. Allow the employee to offer suggestions. There might be several ways that improvement can be accomplished and employees are often in the best position to see such alternatives. 3. Mutually agree on actions to be taken to solve the problem or improve performance. Try to cite specific things that the employee can do to improve, if he or she does not mention them. Give examples of the kinds of results that are desired. For example, an employee who is told only that he or she lacks initiative receives little guidance about what changes to make. However, when told he or she should anticipate available work time and seek additional work when projects are completed, the expectation is clear and the employee is given the opportunity to change. Decide on a specific course of action and get the employee’s commitment to these actions. 4. End on a positive note. Even in the case of poor performance, the manager can end on a positive note by focusing on the year to come and opportunities to improve. 5. Follow-up. After the meeting is over, be sure to follow up on the agreed-upon action plan with more coaching and feedback, consulting with Human Resources if necessary. Also, be sure to recognize progress when it is made. Recognizing Outstanding Performance Equally important as managing and addressing problem performance issues is recognizing above average and outstanding performance. As mentioned, this kind of feedback should be ongoing as well, but the formal review is a good opportunity to make sure those special accomplishments and achievements are acknowledged. Some recognition ideas include:  Acknowledge effort as well as results Page 23 of 35
  24. 24.  Give employees personal, handwritten notes to mark accomplishments  See if your area or college has its own recognition program  Send the employee a Star certificate; a copy will be placed in the employee file  Ask a senior manager to acknowledge accomplishments of your staff Page 24 of 35
  25. 25. The Performance Appraisal Process The Performance Appraisal Form The Northeastern University Admin/Professional performance appraisal form is designed to reflect an employee’s goals for the past twelve months plus his or her actual performance towards those goals. Part I focuses on what the results achieved were, while Part II addresses specific obstacles or challenges not readily evident in Part I. Part III focuses on how the results in Part I were achieved. Lastly, Part IV concentrates on development and goals for the next twelve months. The Northeastern University Office Support/Technical performance appraisal form is designed to reflect an employee’s performance for the past three or twelve months and future development and goals for the next twelve months. Incorporating the Unit Plan and/or Department Goals Each College or area senior leadership team has created a Unit Plan to give an overview of the high- level goals and priorities that the area will strive to achieve. By creating a stronger link between the daily activities of every level of employee and the larger missions of the department and University, employees will be able to see more clearly the role that they play in achieving the Unit Plan and/or Department Goals. We recognize that not all areas may have a finalized Unit Plan that has been fully communicated to its managers. If this is the case, managers should attempt to make their own connection between their employees’ goals and the unit/area mission. When making the link between individual employee goals and department goals or Unit plans, be careful not to list too many goals. Refer back to the ―SMART‖ criteria section, and make sure that not only is each goal by itself attainable, but that all the goals put together are attainable within the time given. Page 25 of 35
  26. 26. Administration Notes Forms on the Web The following materials are available for download from the HRM web site at  Admin/Professional Performance Appraisal form  Admin/Professional Performance appraisal guidelines  Office Support/Technical Performance Appraisal form  Office Support/Technical Performance guidelines  Sample goal-setting worksheet Required signatures Be sure to provide individual employees with an opportunity to write comments on their performance appraisal before they are asked to sign it. The employee’s signature means that they have met with you and have discussed their review. It does not mean that the employee agrees with the appraisal. Performance appraisals must have the employee’s signature to be considered complete and processed. Each completed Admin/Professional appraisal form must also be reviewed and signed by the next level manager prior to meeting with the employee. Timing and deadlines Admin/Professional performance appraisal forms should be completed and returned to Human Resources Management no later than May 1. In keeping with past practices, department heads and/or managers who do not complete the review process for their eligible employees will have their July salary increases withheld until the signed performance appraisals have been received in Human Resources Management. Office Support/Technical performance appraisal forms should be completed and returned to Human Resources Management no later than 1 week before the performance review date. Admin/Professional Eligibility This process covers all full-time as well as benefits-eligible part-time staff whose start date in an administrative/professional job was prior to February 1. The performance period to be reviewed is for the prior twelve months of employment. For grant-funded positions, performance appraisals should be completed annually, either at this time or at the time of the grant renewal. Consistent with university practices, a signed performance appraisal Page 26 of 35
  27. 27. should be on file prior to the grant-funded employee’s receiving a merit increase. These merit increases are funded by the grant. Pay for Performance The University’s Pay for Performance philosophy means that salary increases will be made primarily based on an individual’s performance. When a merit pool has been established, HRM develops guidelines for distributing merit increases based on performance. Merit increases for Administrative/Professional staff are effective July 1 of each year and are based on performance. Merit increases for Office Support & Technical positions are effective on the Monday closest to each individual's date of hire and are directly correlated to the overall performance rating. As always, if you have questions regarding a specific situation or employee, please contact your HRM Consultant. HRM Contacts – x2230 For additional information and assistance regarding a specific employee issue around performance appraisals, please contact your HRM Consultant. For questions regarding general administration of the performance appraisal program, including the contents of this guidebook, please contact a member of the Compensation Department for assistance: Susan Batutis Compensation Manager Lidia Rosado Senior Compensation Analyst Jonathan Castellanos Compensation Assistant Page 27 of 35
  28. 28. APPENDIX A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) What if my employee is on a leave and will not be here for the performance appraisal? Managers should complete the process as normal and then deliver the review when the employee returns to work. What if the employee won’t sign the review? The employee’s signature does not indicate agreement or approval of the review in any way; it merely confirms that he or she has read and the written appraisal. If an employee is reluctant to sign, try to find out the specific reason and emphasize that there is room for his or her comments at the end of the review. If the employee still refuses to sign, make a note to that effect on the review, along with the date, and then forward the review to Human Resources. How long should I give the employee to read my written review before the meeting? This depends largely on the situation – some employees need a day or two to read and think about something like a written performance review thoroughly, while other employees would be fine with a couple of hours. Use your knowledge of the employee and his or her learning style to judge how much reflection time he or she may need. Under what circumstances would I use a performance rating of 1 (lowest)? As with all aspects of the annual performance appraisal, it is up to a manager’s judgment when it is appropriate to give a 1 performance category. The decision would be based on an employee’s not meeting performance expectations on relevant goals, competencies and responsibilities. When using this category, managers will most likely have had a prior performance improvement discussion with the employee. All of my Admin/Professional employees are good employees and will be receiving a “3” rating. I would like to give everyone the same increase. Is this possible? While it is possible to assign the same rating and merit increase to each of your employees, it would be unusual for all employees to have the exact same level of performance. Managers and employees alike should understand that under the evaluation system, most fully performing employees should fall in the overall performance rating of 3 (consistently meets all job requirements). Likewise, new employees who have not yet developed fully in the position might be rated in the rating category of 2 (frequently meets some but not all), while very few employees should receive a rating of 5 (consistently exceeds). Page 28 of 35
  29. 29. What should I do if we did not write out formal work priorities and professional development goals for this past year? Prior to the performance appraisal meeting, identify goals and competencies as the performance context for the upcoming review. Discuss how the work the employee does fit into unit and university results. Commit to have a performance planning discussion in the next cycle! There is no time in my schedule to write the performance appraisal. Is there a productive alternative if I don't set aside the time? There is no "quick fix" to writing a meaningful review. Take the time. Don't try to wing it in the meeting! You will leave yourself open to delivering vague feedback and confusing messages. With preparation you will have more focused discussions and more motivated employees. Any documentation you have will save you time in writing. Asking for feedback from others for whom the employee does work will also be helpful. This can give you a clear place to start and specific themes to use. Are there alternatives to using the performance appraisal form? The performance appraisal form was developed to ensure consistency university-wide so all employees get feedback on their accomplishments, strengths, and areas to improve/develop. To get started, try brainstorming your thoughts and then categorize them on the form to ensure that you are covering all areas for feedback. The Performance Appraisal form should not be changed in any way; however, we welcome your comments and suggestions for next year. Why should I let employees know in advance when I plan to conduct their performance appraisal meeting? Advance notice enables the employee to provide you with input, and identify any additional sources of feedback, and conveys a spirit of collaborative effort. It also allows the employee to "clear the decks" in their workday so they are able to fully participate in the performance appraisal meeting. My employee has worked hard this year, however at review time some work priorities/goals are still not complete. How will this affect the performance appraisal? If the incomplete goals have been targeted for completion after the time of review, consider the extent to which the employee is on target and set to meet those goals. The interim status of the accomplishments and anticipated results should be reflected in the narrative. Also, consider any circumstances outside of the employee's control that may affect the outcome of these goals. What if I have a new Admin/Professional employee, i.e. 4-5 months, can I schedule a Performance Review later than the March timeframe? Guidelines state, that Admin/Professional employees hired before January 31st are eligible to receive a formally documented performance appraisal. Employees hired after this time will receive their first appraisal in March. However, managers should make certain to complete Phase I, Performance Planning, and to begin the ongoing coaching and feedback that are part of Phase II. Page 29 of 35
  30. 30. What should I do if I cannot see an area in an employee's current position to develop? Ask the employee what they think about areas of development in their current job. In the current position, could this employee help with mentoring or training others? Is there an area of your job that you might delegate to this employee? Are there other opportunities for competency and skill development the employee might pursue? See p. 11 in guidebook for ideas and suggestions. Will I need to have my manager sign off on the written appraisals for my employees? Yes. All Admin/Professional performance reviews will need to be signed by the next level manager before they are considered complete. I work most closely with an employee; however I am not the person writing the performance appraisal. How can I give input to the review? You can take the initiative to ask the person conducting the review if they would like your input on the employee's performance. What else can I do in addition to a positive performance appraisal and the annual merit increase to reward and recognize good performers? Consider the total compensation and benefits package when talking with employees. In addition, there are a number of non-monetary ways to recognize good performers. Refer to the list on page 23 of the guidebook for sample ideas. What oversight is provided to ensure fairness in how different managers or different divisions evaluate and reward their staff? School/division leadership and Human Resources Management share responsibility for ensuring fair performance evaluation and compensation practices. HRM reviews individual pay changes, consults with managers, and conducts post audits of pay programs to ensure consistent practices throughout the university. Page 30 of 35
  31. 31. APPENDIX B Preparing for the Performance Review - Employee At Northeastern University, you as an employee are expected to take an active, participatory role in helping to manage your own performance and professional development. This includes preparing for the performance appraisal meeting by reflecting on your progress for the past year and participating in the meeting itself. If you wish to contribute comments to the Performance Appraisal form, there is space to do so at the end of the form. Employee Responsibilities Maintain your own professional development file Although not required, it is recommended that you maintain your own file with documentation on your performance and development. This file is for your own personal reference only, and might include such items as:  The current job description for your position  Any available performance standards and objectives for your position, department, or area  Copies of any performance development or other action plans you and your manager worked on during the review period  Personal objectives you’ve established for your own job performance and/or professional development  Copies of prior performance reviews  Record of formal and informal training you’ve completed  Record of noteworthy projects or areas of accomplishments  Record of formal and informal feedback you have received from both internal and external customers, colleagues, etc. Understand the objectives Know the relationship between the mission and objectives of the University, your department, you area, and your job. Understand how success in your work relates to the overall success of the University. For some types of jobs, this may require some thought: Is your job integral to ―keeping the shop open‖ – i.e., performing a baseline level of functioning that allows your department to run smoothly and accomplish departmental goals? Do you provide a support function that enables other employees to more directly work towards the Unit Plan and/or Department Goals? Looking at the big picture and your place in it gives your job meaning and direction. Sign the final appraisal form After the performance appraisal meeting with your manager, you will be asked to sign the appraisal form. Signing this form does not indicate your agreement with or approval of the written evaluation; it merely indicates that you have read it. There will be room at the end of the form for you to write your own comments. Page 31 of 35
  32. 32. Preparing for the Performance Appraisal Meeting  Confirm the meeting with your manager  Gather any documentation regarding your performance that you have collected throughout the year (letters, notes)  Review any feedback from others relevant to your performance  Review your job description and goals or work priorities that were set during last year’s performance planning discussion, if applicable  Write down questions that you want to ask your manager  Be prepared to talk about your performance – what you do well, how you could improve, what you would like to learn Questions to Think About Looking back  How do you think your performance was this year? Did you meet your own expectations? If not, in what areas would you like to make improvements? Do you think your performance met the requirements/expectations of your manager?  What were your biggest accomplishments this year? How did your contributions further the goals of your team or department?  What obstacles have you encountered? What are possible ways to remove those obstacles?  Were the performance expectations clearly indicated to you by your manager? How has your manager influenced your effectiveness and job satisfaction?  What areas do you think you have grown in this past year? What skills have you developed? How have your job responsibilities grown or changed? Looking forward  What do you see as your major goals/work priorities for the coming year?  What are the areas in which you would like to grow professionally? What resources/help do you need to do so?  What changes in your job and the way you do your job would you suggest to improve your performance, increase the effectiveness of your role, and provide greater job satisfaction? Page 32 of 35
  33. 33. APPENDIX C Goal Planning Worksheet Employee’s Name: Employee’s Title: Manager’s Name: Manager’s Title: Department/Unit VP/Dean’s Area: Use this worksheet to record goals/ work priorities, specify the success criteria and, when completed, to comment on the end results. When setting goals, make sure that they are “S.M.A.R.T”: Specific Focus on specific results rather than general or vague actions. Simple goals ensure clarity. Complex goals should be broken into sub-goals. Be clear about what you want to accomplish. An objective that is too general will require more action steps than are effective. Measurable To determine how well a goal has been achieved, the results should be quantitative (measures amount of output) and qualitative (measures how well the task was done). How will you know when you have been successful? What are the indicators of success? You should be able to monitor and gauge progress in objective terms. Attainable The best goals are challenging, realistic, and achievable. They focus on significant contributions required to meet department and University goals. Be realistic about how much you can accomplish in a given year. Too often we set ourselves and our work teams up for failure because our expectations are too high given the amount of time, skill, or resources we have to accomplish a goal. Relevant Goals must align with and support the goals of the department, the school/division, and the University as a whole. Employee goals should meet or exceed the needs of all parties, including internal and/or external customers. Choose goals that are important to strive for in your work, and those that will have the most impact in your workplace. The objective should relate directly to department and University objectives. Time-Based A specific target date for achieving each goal should be agreed upon. Time frames ensure a proactive approach toward achieving results. You should be able to track progress against specified time frames. Page 33 of 35
  34. 34. GOAL/WORK PRIORITY: SUCCESS CRITERIA: Link to Unit plan and/or Department Goals: Target Completion Date: GOAL/WORK PRIORITY: SUCCESS CRITERIA: Link to Unit plan and/or Department Goals: Target Completion Date: Page 34 of 35
  35. 35. GOAL/WORK PRIORITY: SUCCESS CRITERIA: Link to Unit plan and/or Department Goals: Target Completion Date: GOAL/WORK PRIORITY: SUCCESS CRITERIA: Link to Unit plan and/or Department Goals: Target Completion Date: Page 35 of 35