Performance Appraisal

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


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”.


Ratings Definitions

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 


S)  Specific

M)  Measurable

A)  Attainable

R)  Relevant

T)  Timely

Be sure goals and objectives are clearly connected to the

department or University strategy or mission/vision.




Rating Errors


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



Rating Cycle


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.

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