Performance Appraisal Defined
Performance appraisal provides a periodic review and evaluation of an individual’s job performance.
Although the appraisal forms may only be completed once a year, the job of performance appraisal is continuous – sometimes daily – and requires effective communication on both the part of the supervisor and the employee. The supervisor is ultimately responsible to make sure these conversations actually take place
and are documented. It is essential that the supervisor hold all performance discussions and documentation in complete confidence. One employee’s performance should never be discussed with another
employee. This action is one of the best ways for a supervisor to lose the trust of all employees.
The completed Performance Appraisal forms are maintained in the employee’s personnel file in Human Resources and are released only to the employee, the supervisor or other persons authorized by law, regulation, or policy.
Performance appraisal has many uses, but perhaps the most important is that it provides employees with critical feedback with which they can improve their performance. Without your feedback, your employee may have a difficult time figuring out what you want done differently. It also provides supervisors with critical feedback with which they can help employees improve their performance and often also provides supervisors with ideas on how they can become a better supervisor. Training needs should be identified during performance
discussions. If an employee is having trouble completing assignments, you should always investigate whether you have provided the employee with all necessary training for the tasks. Just because other employees may not have needed additional training, doesn’t mean none of them need training.
The University may use completed performance appraisals for many things, including: 1) determining the promotability of employees; 2) validating tests used for recruitment and selection 3) evaluating the training program to find areas where additional training needs to be offered; and possibly 4) to determine merit
pay when applicable. Employees who wish to have their performance appraisals reviewed by potential supervisors for consideration for a new position need to make sure Human Resources is aware of their wishes.
As an employee, you should use your performance to help you plan your career and assess strengths and weaknesses to identify potential job growth.
Since performance evaluations may also be used in legal disputes, it is essential that the information entered is truthful, accurate and based on performance, not personalities, rumors, or opinions. The annual performance appraisal must NOT be the sole basis for initiating formal discipline. When employee performance requires correction, it is the supervisor’s job to identify the problem, discuss it with the employee, and document the discussion as soon as the correction is identified. There should be no
surprises during the annual discussion.
Performance standards are what we use to differentiate between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The standards are identified for each of the job elements and explain what satisfactory performance will look like. Written justification must be provided for any rating of “Outstanding,” “Unacceptable,” or “Needs Improvement.” The employee should have been notified well before the formal annual appraisal if they will be rated less than “Meets Expectations”.
Use the following as a general guide when determining your
ratings for each item:
– Unacceptable: A standard of performance well below
minimum requirements; not effective
– Needs Improvement: A standard of performance
generally below acceptable standards; needs development
– Meets Expectations: A standard of performance
meeting all normal requirements of the position
– Exceeds Expectations: A standard of performance
generally exceeding expected results; above average
– Outstanding: A standard of performance leaving no
consequence to be desired; highest possible effectiveness
Performance Goals (SMART)
Performance goals must have certain characteristics in order
to be effective. Goals must be
Be sure goals and objectives are clearly connected to the
department or University strategy or mission/vision.
It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure the
Performance Appraisal accurately reflects the performance of the
employee. Rating employees on their performance alone is not
easy. Most raters (even the best) make many common mistakes.
If you are going to have an effective rating system, you must avoid
making any of the following rating errors:
1) Halo/Horn – allowing perceptions of performance
on one rating dimension to affect the rating of all performance
dimensions. An employee who has difficulty working with others
may rate very high in dependability or job knowledge.
2) Leniency/Severity – Rating easy or harsh
regardless of performance. This is usually done with employees we
especially like or employees we may not like so much. Be sure to
rate the performance, not how we feel personally about the person.
3) Central Tendency – Rating everyone average
regardless of performance. This takes a lot of responsibility off
the supervisor’s shoulders as it is difficult for any one to complain
since no one got either a very good or a very bad rating. It could
also mean rating the same employee average in all behaviors or job
4) Contrast Effect – comparing employees with one
another. Remember that you rate each employee’s performance
against the job description—not how they compare with other
employees, or how they compare with the last employee in that job.
5) Primacy/Recency – First impression and memory
errors. We remember best what we see either first or last. This
is a good reason to keep an event record/log. Using this method
should eliminate this error along with several others mentioned
6) Escalation of Commitment – as familiarity
increases commitment increases. Once we have made up our mind
about an employee – good or bad – it is difficult to change our
opinion. We look for good behavior in good employees and we look
for bad behavior in bad employees. We continue to look for and
only see behavior that supports our opinion.
7) Self-fulfilling Prophecy – managers who hire
employees usually want them to succeed. It is a good reflection on
the manager. At the same time, managers may not expect success
from an employee that someone else selected. It is also easy to
put too much credence in what others have told you about an
employee. We look for performance that supports our beliefs and
disregard performance that is contrary to our beliefs.
8) Bias – value systems affect opinions. For example,
it may be difficult to consider someone of a different religion or
ethnic group as being a good person, and so it may be difficult to
rate them as a good employee.
9) Stereotyping – If we consider a certain group of
people as hard working then we may tend to rate anyone in that
group as being highly productive even if they are not.
10) Glass Ceiling Effect – The supervisor may
sometimes decide when an employee has reached their peak
performance and stop challenging the employee to continue to
The formal Performance Appraisal Form must be completed
annually. At the beginning of the rating cycle, the supervisor and
employee must review the blank form and identify which five, six,
or seven Job Elements will be rated; which Position-Specific
Factors will be rated; and identify goals or objectives to be
completed during the rating cycle. For employees on probation, the
supervisor must complete both the Midpoint and Final Employee
Evaluation Records and return them to the Employment Office in
Human Resources. When you complete these forms, take the
opportunity to have a formal performance discussion with your new
employee. Be sure the final form is turned in before the end of
the probationary period.
Civil Service appraisals should be done on a periodic basis
covering approximately 12 months. The beginning of the fiscal year
is typically the beginning of the Civil Service Appraisal period for
most employees. For new employees, the appraisal period may
begin at the completion of probation or the date the employee is
assigned. In these cases, the period might not be 12 months.
Completed Appraisal forms are due to Human Resources within 30
days of the end of the rating cycle; generally at the end of the fiscal year.