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Performance Management Guide

Contents

Introduction
Documentation Requirements for Performance Management
Preparing for Annual Performance Management Discussions
Annual Performance Summary Review Meeting
After the Meeting
Related Resources

Introduction

UT Arlington is committed to the practice of meaningful, timely and productive performance management for all of its employees. Thank you for supporting that commitment! This Performance Management Guide and the Performance Management Forms are the tools of performance management at UT Arlington.

The purpose of performance management is to improve communication about performance between an employee and his or her supervisor. The performance management system is designed to provide alignment between the University's mission, constituent needs and performance expectations. It fosters ongoing two-way communication between employees and supervisors; supports the development of clear, consistent and measurable goals linked directly to our core values and mission; helps to articulate and support training needs and career development; and establishes the criteria for making reward and recognition decisions.

Effective performance management at UT Arlington begins with respect for one another and ends with excellence in performance. It is the responsibility of every supervisor to communicate on an ongoing basis with his or her employees. These conversations should provide clear and honest role expectations and feedback and should help identify improvement, development and career progress. Each employee has a responsibility to participate fully in these conversations, be sure they understand his or her role responsibilities and expectations and communicate any obstacles or training needed in order to perform his or her role at an optimum level.

Documentation Requirements for Performance Management

The Performance Management Form provides a format for recording and the submission of performance management information for an individual. It encompasses performance planning, objectives, expected results, competency assessment, ongoing manager-employee updates and performance review/assessment. The completed form is the result of ongoing interactions between an employee and supervisor in the course of a given year.

The performance management form is a tool to support the performance management process. The Performance Management Form must be completed and signed annually and needs to be submitted to Human Resources for inclusion in the employee's personnel file.

Preparing for Annual Performance Management Discussions

Performance management should be occurring all year long and involves more than completing and discussing the performance management form. The performance management form is part of a total system, it is not an end or a beginning, but a continuous cycle.

Remember, performance management is about ongoing two-way communication between the employee and his or her supervisor. The annual performance management review should be a summary of various meetings throughout the year. Again, there should be no surprises at this summary meeting.

Key Points To Keep In Mind:

Review the primary position responsibilities. Has the employee effectively performed these? What is your overall assessment of how these responsibilities were performed?

  • Review the employee's goals from last year. Were goals modified or changed during the review period? Have the goals been met? Have you been able to provide the employee with the tools and support to get the job done?
  • Review last year's appraisal. How does this year compare to last year? Have there been improvements?
  • Consider whether you need to speak with anyone else in order to have a more complete and accurate picture of your employee's performance.
  • Assess the employee's strengths, weaknesses and areas of greatest improvement. Is there a specific area where you would like to establish a developmental goal?
  • What suggestions do you have for the employee that will help improve his or her performance in his or her role or the overall operations of the department?
  • If the employee supervises others, discuss what he or she has done to strengthen his or her own staff. Ask about regular communication of information, job expectations and feedback.
  • Contact the Human Resources Office for assistance if substantial performance issues exist.
Avoid Common Rater Errors:

First Impression Error - the tendency for the supervisor to make judgment decisions early. The supervisor may miss critical information exchanged later on with such a mindset.

Similar to Me Error - all else being equal, supervisors will give higher ratings to employees they perceive as similar to themselves.

Halo Effect - the error of positively or negatively generalizing over several dimensions of performance, based on an overall impression or salient characteristic of the employee. As a result, each performance category does not receive a valid evaluation.

Primary, Recency Effect - the tendency to not treat all information equally; we tend to remember first impressions and most recent events best. Important information may get lost in the middle. (Always review all of your notes and records and review the calendar for key events during the year.)

Sex and Attractiveness Bias - the error of factoring the employee's sex or physical attractiveness into judgments about his or her performance in his or her position.

Misinterpretation of Nonverbal Cues - the tendency to misinterpret or not question nonverbal behaviors. It is important to overcome the hesitancy to tactfully investigate the true cause of such behaviors.

Judgment Bias - the error of revealing one's own value system when reacting to an employee's response. It is extremely important to react in a non-judgmental manner so that the employee will respond honestly and candidly to the questions posed. Any judgments should be made according to the organization's goals and relevance to the job.

Consistent Leniency - A tendency to "go easy" on people because the supervisor believes in being generous towards others. Rates almost everybody high in almost every area.

Consistent Severity - A tendency to be "too tough" on people because the supervisor believes in upholding high standards. Rates people low and feels that few can reach the correct standards.

Central Tendency - A tendency to rate nearly everyone as average on every factor instead of being more critical in judgment.

Prejudice - The appraiser has a strong personal feeling toward the person being rated and allows this to influence judgment.

Some Dos and Do Nots:

DO DO NOT
Schedule a meeting time that works for both the employee and yourself. Conduct the meeting without adequate preparation time.
Be prepared for the meeting. Hold a superficial discussion.
Close the door and do not allow for interruptions (phone, pager). Discuss personality traits and attitudes.
Use language that will be clearly understood. Dwell on isolated incidents.
Focus on the performance, not the person. Dwell on weaknesses, faults or shortcomings.
Consider the employee's performance throughout the year. Compare the employee with another or with oneself.
Use specific examples. Get into problem-solving or idea generating discussions (Schedule another meeting to do this).
Make notes to yourself in advance to clarify your evaluative comments, particularly criticisms, so you can be very clear. Use this session to discipline an employee.
Avoid absolutes such as always or never. Repeat constructive criticism in an attempt to soften the blow. Say it once and then listen!
Give the employee advance notice that you will be asking for feedback and provide the questions (e.g. How can I help you do your job better? What kind of support do you need from me that you're not getting?). Provide excuses for bad news. State your observation and allow the employee to respond.
Summarize and ask the employee to summarize. Use the session to discuss employee career development plans. Schedule this for another meeting.
Avoid surprises. Avoid telling the truth for fear of disagreement of an on-going performance problem.

Tips on Effective Feedback:

Feedback involves treating each other with respect.

Constructive feedback tries to reinforce the positive and change the negative by:

  • Identifying what was done well or poorly.
  • Describing what action or behavior is desired.
  • Explaining the effects of the observed and desired acts of behavior.

Good feedback is timely. Give the feedback as quickly as possible after the event. Feedback long delayed is rarely effective.

Feedback involves both parties listening carefully. Check for clarity to ensure that the receiver fully understands what is being said.

Good feedback should be specific. Generalized feedback does not explain what behavior to repeat or avoid. Describe exactly what was done well and/or what could be improved. For example, "This report is well organized and the summary clearly states your conclusions and proposed actions" rather than "Good report."

Keep feedback objective. Use factual records and information whenever possible. Include details that focus on specific actions and results rather than characteristics of the employee. For example, say "this happened" rather than "you are." "You hung up the phone without saying good-bye." rather than "you are rude."

Feedback about performance issues is best delivered in person. The employee will have a chance to respond to any issues raised. Especially avoid delivering negative feedback via e-mail messages.

Tips for the Employee:

Employees have a responsibility in the performance management process and should be prepared to give feedback to their supervisor.

  • Review your current position description. Does it reflect your current role in the department? If not, discuss with your supervisor about revising your position description.
  • Review your goals for the year. Have they been met? Review your achievements. Think about obstacles/roadblocks you encountered and how you dealt with them.
  • Is there anyone else your supervisor should speak with before preparing your evaluation? Let your supervisor know this before the review meeting.
  • Identify specific areas of expertise or skills that you would like to develop or improve. Identify your strengths. In what areas have you improved? Can you identify any developmental goals for the coming year?
  • What ideas do you have for changes that would help you perform your role better and/or improve the operation of the department? Think about obstacles/roadblocks that you face in performing your responsibilities and what help is needed from your supervisor to overcome them.
  • If you manage others, what have you done to develop/strengthen your staff's performance and skills?

Annual Performance Summary Review Meeting

UT Arlington's performance management process includes a summary review assessment that should bring closure to the performance period and provide a basis for performance management for the next period.

Setting the Stage for a Productive Discussion:

  1. Establish the proper climate.
    • Create a sincere, open and constructive atmosphere.
    • Schedule the meeting in advance and stick to it.
    • Allow enough time to discuss the review.
    • Locate a private space and guard against interruptions.
    • Avoid discussing salary matters as not to negatively affect the true focus of the meeting.
  2. Make it clear that this is a joint discussion.
    • Listen and ask for the employee's opinion.
    • Avoid words or body language that criticize the employee's view.
    • Understand your employee's point of view. Working together is better than being at odds.
    • Be willing to modify the Performance Management Form to reflect what is discussed and agreed upon at the meeting.
  3. Discuss goals for the performance review period.
    • Review whether the goals were met.
    • Discuss obstacles and roadblocks that affected goal achievement.
    • Show appreciation of the employee's success.
    • Be tactful in discussing the employee's shortcomings.
    • Direct criticism only at the employee's performance and not at him or her personally.
  4. Discuss opportunities for growth and development in the current role or a different role.
    • Discuss the employee's developmental and career goals.
    • Remember there is also the opportunity for growth and development within the current role. There are new things to be done and more effective and efficient ways to accomplish work.
  5. When the summary meeting should be concluded.
    • All points that you wanted to cover have been discussed.
    • The employee has thoroughly expressed personal ambitions and special interests.
    • The employee has had a chance to review issues.
    • The employee knows in definite terms how you appraised him or her overall.
    • A plan of action has been cooperatively developed.

During the year, supervisors will discuss with the employee and document whatever is needed to help the employee continue to grow, develop and/or improve his or her skills over the course of the next evaluation period. For some employees, it may become necessary to include a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) along with the annual review. The PIP plays an important role in correcting performance deficiencies and should be developed when a significant performance problem has been identified. It may be used to monitor and measure deficient work products, processes and/or behaviors of a particular employee in a focused effort so as to improve performance or modify behavior. Should you determine a Performance Improvement Plan is needed, please contact Employee Relations at extension 2-5554 for assistance.

Signatures / Acknowledgements

  • What the Signatures Indicate/Do Not Indicate: As noted on the Performance Management Form, an employee's signature indicates their input to the form and that a meeting occurred with the supervisor to discuss it. Signature does not necessarily imply agreement with the evaluation.
  • Employee Comments Section: This section is optional and may be used by the employee to contribute thoughts and opinions about the performance management process or her or his assessment specifically.

After the Meeting

After the manager and employee meet and discuss his or her performance, make copies of the completed evaluation form for the employee and the department and forward the signed original to the appropriate administrative reviewer. The completed signed original will be sent to Human Resources for inclusion in the employee's personnel file.

Performance management forms contain confidential information and should be treated with respect for the individual's privacy. If sent through campus or other mail, use a sealed enveloped marked"Confidential".

Related Resources

Related Links:

Performance Management Forms (pdf)

Performance Management Policy