Archive for April, 2016

The Performance Process

The Performance Process is a comprehensive approach to staff supervision/coaching. Each of the following steps is vital to the overall success of both you as the supervisor/coach and your staff member(s)/team.

  1. Performance Planning: the creation of the position description and performance expectations/standards

  1. Performance Management: counseling and coaching through out the performance period

  1. Performance Appraisal: preparing for and conducting the formal review.

  1. Reward Process: determining actual merit awards based on performance

  1. Performance Planning: And following up with a review of the position description and re-evaluation of performance expectations/standards for the upcoming year

This process applies to both teams (a group of staff members assigned to work on and complete a project) as well as the individual staff member. The same guidelines for assigning, ensuring understanding, and providing follow-up of projects should be used with both the team and the individual staff member.

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Performance Planning

There are two key elements which are essential to ensuring effective communication of expectations. These are: accurate and current position descriptions and ongoing two-way communication between the supervisor and the staff member.

Position Descriptions

Position descriptions form the foundation for several important areas of human resource management including:

  • Planning: Position descriptions outline the responsibilities and objectives of a work unit to individual positions. They can help managers pinpoint staffing gaps or identify over-staffing. They are valuable in making decisions about realigning or changing organizational structures.

  • Recruiting and screening: Accurate position descriptions provide the basic information about open positions which is required to make a good match between the candidate’s qualifications and the job’s demands.

  • Orientation: Giving a newly hired staff member a position description to review, and then sitting down and discussing it together, serves as an introduction to the job and provides a framework for performance expectations.

  • Training and development: Well-written position descriptions identify the education, experience, and skills required. They can help staff members pinpoint their own growth areas, and help supervisors tailor appropriate training programs.

  • Career ladders: Accurate position descriptions are a tool in developing upward mobility programs. A study of position descriptions can reveal the relationships among certain jobs and the knowledge and skills needed to advance from one job to another.

  • Position classification: Position descriptions make it possible to identify job elements, factors and levels, which in turn makes job classification easier.

  • Performance appraisal: Position descriptions provide the link between the job and appropriate performance expectations. These performance expectations are a critical factor in evaluating staff members’ performance, determining merit pay increases and evaluating possible readiness for promotion.

A position description should give a clear picture of a position. It should provide enough detail to accurately communicate the key responsibilities of the position. In deciding which duties and responsibilities will be delegated to individual positions, the supervisor should consider the overall design of the job and the skills and motivations of staff members. Descriptions should be reviewed, by the staff member and supervisor, and revised as necessary prior to the start of the performance evaluation cycle. Descriptions serve as the primary tool for building a common understanding of job responsibilities and as the starting point for developing performance objectives and standards.

The supervisor should encourage staff member input in the process to help build staff member commitment to the job and performance level. The performance expectations (standards) for each of the functions/areas of responsibility should be realistic and measurable.

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Developing Goals/Objectives

Clear performance goals make the performance appraisal process much easier for both managers and staff members. They enable supervisors to focus directly on job performance rather than personality. Staff members and supervisors routinely develop informal performance expectations in answering the questions, “How do we know the job has been done right?” or “How do we measure success?” Clarifying and communicating these standards by putting them in writing fosters mutual understanding and acceptance.


    • Identify the purpose(s) of the position. This (these) become(s) the performance goal.

    • Examine benefits to be gained, both by the organization and by the staff member.

    • Present the goal to the staff member, and then mutually write the development plan to attain the goal.

Writing the Development Plan

    • Write the goal statement to indicate what is to be attained and any skills to be developed by the staff member.

    • List the action plans to accomplish the goal.

– Main steps to follow.

– Target dates for each step as appropriate.

– Indicate checkpoints for review as needed.

    • Define how you will measure progress.

The method for measuring progress will vary depending on the type of assignment given. Assignments given to management or professional staff members usually require more general results-oriented measurements, while support staff may be more appropriately measured using factors that are concerned with both process and end product.

Follow these Steps for Management and Professional Staff:

  • Describe assignment to be done

    • Purpose and objectives

    • Results expected

    • As needed, overview of what’s involved

    • Make sure individual clearly understands what you want.

  • Define Parameters

    • Budget

    • Timeliness

    • Kind of feedback or information you need

    • Establish checkpoints for review of progress

    • Provide resources for support

    • Budget

    • Materials

    • Access

    • Staff

    • Training as needed

    • ALSO, inform others who need to know

    • Provide feedback and positive reinforcement for what was done well.

NOTE: Stress results to be accomplished rather than how to do assignment

Follow these steps for Program Implementers and Clerical Staff:

  • Describe assignment to be done

    • Method – How to do assignment

    • Purpose of assignment – How it fits into the larger goal

    • Verify person understands assignment

      • Define Parameters

    • Quality

    • Quantity

    • When due (reasonable)

      • Provide resources for support

    • Materials

    • Equipment

    • Training

    • Help if needed

    • ALSO, inform others who need to know

    • Provide feedback and positive reinforcement for what was done well.

Definitions of Performance Expectations:

They should be clear, brief, attainable, and measurable, and can be expressed in terms of:

Quality how well work must be done in terms of accuracy, appearance completeness, thoroughness, precision, and compliance with professional standards which may have been established for an occupation

Quantity how much work must be completed within a given time period.

Timeliness when, how soon, within what time period work must be done

Effective use of assess the cost/benefits or use of resources such as money, Resources equipment personnel, time.

Manner of describes specific behaviors that have an impact on Performance outcomes such as cooperation and courtesy

(sometimes inappropriately referred to as “attitude”)

Method of used if there are rules regarding the methods and

Performing procedures which must be used to accomplish assignments work.

Avoid unrealistic goals. The following guidelines should be considered when writing performance goals with the staff member:

  • Use specific examples of behaviors and of the desired results.

  • Avoid using evaluative terms which do not describe behaviors and/or outcomes, such as “good work” and “bad attitude.”

  • Be wary of using terms such as “always” and “never.” It may not be realistic to expect that a staff member will always perform perfectly and will never make a mistake.

  • Avoid using numbers in goals unless you actually intend to count the behavior (e.g. attendance, production quantities)

  • Consider the cost/benefit of gathering information about performance. As with any other type of information – it costs time and money to gather and maintain.

  • Build performance goals which can identify performance above the base line of expected performance. Staff members want to know how to receive a performance rating which is better than “meets expectations.”

Methods of verifying performance should be determined at the start of the evaluation period and discussed with the staff member. These may include:

  • Direct observation

  • Reports of others’ observations

  • Written records such as attendance, financial, assignment logs, and status reports

  • Results in the form of tangible products

Record performance: To develop a reliable record of events, it is recommended that the supervisor keep informal notes regarding specific performance events throughout the evaluation period. The staff member should be informed in advance that samples of performance will be recorded. Listed below are some guidelines to follow:

  • Record objective facts concerning actual performance as they occur

  • Record only job-related performance, rather than making evaluative statements describing an individual

  • Do not try to record every event; rather, select a representative sample of performance in key areas of responsibility

  • Cross validate reports from others

  • Record both positive and negative performance

  • Maintain records on all staff members – not just those that fall in the extremes

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Counseling and Coaching

A key part of a manager’s job is to manage the performance of your people, for that is what produces the results for which you are held accountable. The most successful managers act as coaches. A manager as a coach/mentor is one who provides direction, guidance, and support in leading one’s team and each individual in the accomplishment of goals. Also a coach/mentor is someone who works to develop and maximize one’s human resources to the fullest to achieve positive results.

Effectiveness in a manager as coach role requires:

  • Exercising assertiveness

  • Managing people as individuals

  • Being results oriented

  • Building working relationships

  • Multiplying your effectiveness through others

Motivation is another critical area of expertise that a manager can use to help his/her team achieve its fullest potential.

Definitions of motivation:

  • Something that causes or influences a person to act or perform.

  • For management, it is the creating of conditions that allow a person to achieve a highly productive level of performance.

Some tips about motivation:

  • Motivation works best when its focus is on enhancing and sustaining performance.

  • Behavior that is rewarded is repeated.

  • A manager’s own behavior can have a great influence on staff member behavior and can help positively motivate performance.

The more you know your staff, their needs and desires related to their work and job performance, the more you will understand what motivates them.

On-going coaching often involves more guidance than direct instruction. The idea behind this guidance is to develop staff members to think for themselves especially in solving problems and making decisions. Below are some suggestions on how to coach through guidance.

  • Share knowledge and experience

  • Share feedback and observations

  • Use questioning to stimulate their thinking and facilitate by listening

  • Encourage brainstorming

  • Ask for their plans to address issues and resolve problems

  • Explore options and consequences together

  • Give picture of results expected

  • Give assignments that provide opportunity to learn through experience


  • Telling them how to do their jobs

  • Providing (and as a result, imposing) solutions to them

  • Making decisions they could make themselves

  • Giving frequent advice

  • Criticizing

Another important aspect to providing on-going coaching and counseling is to identify and correct problems as they occur. In this way issues can be resolved while they are fresh in everyone’s mind and before they become worse problems.

Some questions you should consider when identifying and correcting problems are:

  • When does the problem occur? During a particular work process, at the same time each day, or same day each week, etc., or when certain conditions exist? When/where does the problem not exist?

  • Does the job cause the performance problem because the tasks are not compatible?

  • Are the procedures clear and correct?

  • Are adequate resources (tools, time, money, information, and staff) available to do the job effectively?

  • What is the magnitude of the problem in terms of quality, service, safety, image, quality, and resources?

  • Anticipate the staff member’s reactions to the points to be made. What constructive suggestions can be made?

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The Annual Performance Review

A formal performance review must be conducted each year consisting of discussion(s) between the supervisor and the staff member and a written record of the appraisal. Discussions should occur more frequently if needed, such as when changes in the job require the assignment of new responsibilities, when new objectives are developed, or if the staff member requires a more structured approach in order to encourage improved performance. The content of the formal appraisal discussion should not be a surprise to either party!

Criteria for Assignment of Overall Performance Rating

Exceeds Job Expectation

This staff member’s performance is superior and consistently exceeds the requirements of the job. This exemplary high performance level is also seen in demanding situations and circumstances.

He/she excels in the accomplishment of all responsibilities, tasks, and objectives, having performed with the utmost excellence in each and all objectives of job performance on a sustained basis. He or she is widely recognized as an expert because of his or her own exceptional knowledge and authority.

The decisions and recommendations of this person are sound and they are frequently related to the highest priority and most complex aspect of the position’s responsibilities.

This staff member demonstrates a thorough understanding of the job, frequently perceives aspects of the position which are seldom perceived by others, and initiates, plans for, and accomplishes many innovative and valuable objectives for the unit/department/University. Use of this rating category should be used sparingly to avoid reducing the value of the next rating below.

Meets Job Expectation

The performance of this staff member fully meets the standards and requirements of the job. This staff member’s performance is satisfactory and exceeds the requirements of the job in one or more areas and meets the requirements of the job in all other areas. This is a consistently competent performer. It is important to keep in mind that “meets job expectations” is the standard and most employees performance will fall into this category.

The performance of the high priority and most complex responsibilities is accomplished with competence and thoroughness. The staff member is steady, reliable, and competent, and work is accomplished with a minimum of supervision.

The decisions and recommendations of this person are usually sound and are related o important and structured areas of the position’s responsibilities.

The staff member usually takes initiative and accomplishes worthwhile objectives on behalf of the unit/department/University.

Partially Meets Job Expectations

The “partially meets job expectations” rating is for those aspects of performance which may require some additional training and development or for performance in certain areas that is not consistent. Staff member shows capability, but in a variable manner.

Either performance of job functions is lacking or for the staff member to maintain job performance level and achieve the desired position objectives, regular mentoring and coaching is necessary in the under-achieved areas of the job.

This staff member may occasionally originate worthwhile objectives but also fail to meet all of the objectives of this position which are established by performance standards. Although the staff member’s performance is not considered completely unacceptable, there is room for improvement of work performance.

Does Not Meet Job Expectations

Performance consistently does not meet the requirements and acceptable standards of the position.

This staff member’s performance is below the normal expectations for a substantial number of the aspects of the job. Portions of the job expectations/objectives are either not met or are met only with a minimum level of acceptability.

The decisions and recommendations of this staff member are often not sound, and when undertaken, are usually in the routine or structured areas of the job, and may negatively impact organizational or operational objectives.

There is a clear need to make a concentrated effort to improve the staff member’s performance. The staff member may need additional training or is not capable of assuming responsibilities necessary to attain minimum standards. If performance does not improve in a reasonable period of time, Labor Relations should be consulted for formal action.

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Guidelines for Building a Complete and Fair Appraisal

Frequent Communication

  • Planned frequent communication and feedback on job performance helps overcome fear during the actual formal performance appraisal session.

Judge Your Own Performance

  • Evaluate your own performance before you evaluate the staff member’s performance. Are you responsible for their good or bad performance?

Warm-Up Period

  • Take the time to develop rapport and discuss the advantages of an appraisal.

  • Review the information on hand to measure the staff member’s performance.

Be Candid & Be Specific

  • Candidly get right to the point in discussing a staff member’s performance on the job. Honesty and candor will result in a big payoff for you and the staff member.

Build on Strengths

  • This approach enables the staff member to work toward their greatest potential.

  • The staff member must use their strengths to accomplish a job; they cannot use their weaknesses.

Be a Positive Listener

  • Listen attentively. Non-verbal communication often says more than words.

Judge Performance – Not the Person

  • Judge a staff member’s performance and results. Don’t judge personality or personal traits.

Avoid Evaluation Errors

Though supervisors try to be objective in evaluating staff members’ performance, personal biases manifest themselves in the use of performance rating scales. These are often referred to as rating errors and include:

Halo Error

  • Managers tend to generalize from one aspect of a person’s performance to other aspects of it, causing a halo error. If a staff member performs very well in one area of the job, the manager may rate the overall performance as outstanding (Performance Level 5) even though performance in other areas is not at this level.

Recency Error

  • Recency error occurs when the rating is based mainly on performance near the end of the review period, positively or negatively. The rating in this case may not accurately reflect the entire job performance.

Contrast Error

  • Contrast error occurs when a manager rates two or more staff members who differ substantially in level of performance. For example, a staff member who is performing at a competent level (Performance Level 3) may, in comparison, with a marginal staff member, be rated Performance Level 5. This error could work in the opposite direction: the competent staff member may be rated at below standards (Performance Level 2) because of the contrast with a distinguished level of performance.

Constancy Error

  • This occurs when managers use only a portion of the rating scale in accordance with their own set of performance standards. Lenient raters concentrate their ratings at the top end of the scale. Other raters show a central tendency error, believing no one is really unacceptable or outstanding, and therefore never using these extreme ratings though they may be applicable.

Morale Building Error

  • This error occurs when managers give above standards ratings (Performance Level 4 or 5) to increase the morale or to avoid causing low morale when performance does not justify it. Meeting standards of the job should not imply a negative rating or “average” performance. It should indicate that the staff member did the job as expected of him or her as established at the beginning of the review period.

Generosity Error

  • This occurs when managers give above standards ratings (Performance Level 5) to increase the amount of merit increase to be granted. It is not fair to the staff member or other staff members and it creates a level of expectation for future performance ratings.

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Planning the Appraisal Discussion

The guidelines below are provided to help supervisors develop their own approach and style.

Getting Prepared

  • Identify the main points of the review and discussion. What must be said and what conclusions must be reached?

  • Be aware of the staff member’s past experience, education, work history, and other related information. Review the staff member’s strengths and weaknesses, and any circumstances that may have contributed to the performance.

  • Review notes from the last appraisal discussion, particularly with respect to the Future Plans and Development section.

  • Review the job description and performance standards, noting any changes which should be made, and establish preliminary performance standards for the new rating period.

  • What is the difference between what was expected and what has occurred?

  • What facts, records, and events are available to support the evaluation?

Setting the Stage

  • Prepare notes to help guide the discussion.

  • Schedule an appointment with the staff member in advance.

  • Suggest the staff member prepare a list of accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses.

  • Arrange for a suitable meeting place where it is quiet, relaxed, and private.

  • Review all materials and information gathered.

  • Bring a “draft” not a final copy of the Performance Appraisal.

Conducting the Appraisal Session

Conducting the discussion is the critical step. It can have an important bearing on future relationships and will profoundly influence a supervisor’s ability to motivate future performance. The following are guidelines provided to help supervisors develop their own style and methods.

Setting the Tone of the Discussion

Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and explain the ground rules and the process. Tell staff member what can come out of meeting, including future assignments, clear communication, and increased duties. Minimize the negative connotations of “evaluation,” “rating,” and “records of evidence.”

  • Help the staff member feel at ease and receptive.

Communicating Information

  • Explain and discuss the Performance Appraisal form

  • Avoid making the rating form and specific ratings the principal issue of the discussion

  • Avoid criticism of personality or personal traits

  • Use hypothetical questions to help staff member search out underlying problems and solutions

  • Don’t cross-examine; allow staff member to speak (voicing opinions and feelings; making plans for self-improvement; discussing job-related problems)

  • List disagreements, don’t gloss over them; use listening skills to separate facts from opinions and to shift from details to major points or problems

  • Explain ratings proposed for each of the staff member’s key responsibilities; cite specific examples

  • Come prepared with clear, understandable (written) statements which express expectations concerning future changes in performance; agree on process to monitor areas requiring change with on-going and specific target-dated reviews (Areas for Improvement section)

  • Be prepared to make development commitments which are appropriate and feasible to support necessary changes in behavior; discuss plans for staff member’s self-development and how these relate to performance expectations (Future Plans and Development Activities section)

  • As appropriate, discuss advancement opportunities and how the staff member can achieve career goals; include in this discussion the specific knowledge, skills, and experience the staff member must acquire in order to advance; agree on specific methods for acquiring them (Future Plans and Development Activities section)

  • To establish a new position description for the next evaluation period, arrive at mutually agreeable modifications, additions or deletions in the staff member’s responsibilities and related objectives.

Closing the Appraisal Discussion

  • It is important to conclude the discussion on a positive note.

  • Discuss plans to build on strengths and correct weaknesses to enhance future performance

  • Conclude with a summary of the main points of the discussion

  • Inform the staff member of the option to respond to the appraisal in the “Employee Comments and Recommendations” section

  • Have staff member sign the form if he/she does not wish to add any comments; OR set a mutually agreeable date for signing the final form, incorporating any changes, and including any comments made by the staff member.

Supervisor’s Self Evaluation

After the interview process has been completed, consider the following:

  • Did things go well/poorly? Why?

  • What topics were handled successfully/unsuccessfully?

  • What subjects aroused the staff member’s interest and involvement?

  • Were all important points thoroughly discussed?

  • What remains as unfinished business?

  • What points should be raised at the next meeting?

  • What performance should be monitored in the future?

  • What…objectives should be set? …skills should be developed?

  • Is the staff member a possible candidate for promotion?

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  1. Reassure your staff member by building on strengths, give him/her confidence.
  2. Use a “we” approach when discussing problems.
  3. Be specific when discussing performance.
  4. Keep the interview on track.
  5. Draw him/her out by:
    1. Asking thought-provoking questions (not yes or no type), then listen. Restate or reflect the staff member’s statements. Listen with warmth, frankness, and real interest.
  6. Talk about job results, not activities.
  7. Function as a coach, not as inspector. Counsel — don’t advise.
  8. Close properly:
    1. Summarize, plan for improvements and changes. Write down the results.


  1. Use negative words or too many negative criticisms.
  2. Use a “you vs. me” approach.
  3. Give insincere or excessive praise.
  4. Use generalities that cannot be backed up by specific examples.
  5. Dominate the conversation.
  6. Place emphasis on personality traits.
  7. Be fussy, picayune or harried.
  8. Be or seem hurried.

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The Performance Appraisal Reward Process

Both financial and non-financial rewards are needed for a merit pay program to work effectively. It is important to remember that staff members also need and seek out: feelings of self-worth, recognition, challenge, responsibility, independence, status, security, growth, and advancement. Pay for performance becomes a motivational tool only when it is used as one component of the total appraisal-reward system.

The Merit Pay Decision

There are three factors that are used to determine the actual amount of the merit award. These three factors are:

  1. The amount of money available to be distributed as part of the merit process. This pool of money is determined based on the allocation provided for staff salaries as part of the State budget.

  2. The number of employees that are rated at each performance level. Once all of the performance evaluation decisions are forwarded to Oakland, a calculation is done to ensure that all of the merit pool of money is distributed to all eligible employees. Based on this calculation a % increase is assigned to each performance level.

  3. The performance rating received by the employee. The individual employee then receives the percent increase that is aligned to his/her performance level.

Communicating Merit Increase Decisions

When the supervisor informs the staff member of his/her new salary, the supervisor should also communicate the reasons for the salary decision. The staff member should already be aware of the link between performance and pay, and the general criteria used to make decisions. However, this information can be reviewed to provide a context for the salary decision. Generally staff members are satisfied with salary decisions when they believe that the decision was made objectively and that their salary is equitable in relation to the salaries of other staff members. Regardless of the amount of money available for merit increases, staff members will be motivated to continue to perform if the basis for salary decisions is clearly communicated and other important forms of reward, such as positive feedback, continue to be available.

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Principles of staffing

  • Principle of the objective of staffing:

The objective of managerial staffing is to ensure that organization roles are filled by those qualified personnel who are able and willing to occupy them.

  • Principle of staffing:

This principle rests on an important body of knowledge concerning management practices. Those organizations that have no established job definition, no effective appraisals, and no system for training and development will have to rely on coincidence or sources to fill the positions with able managers.

  • Principle of job definition:

Since organizational roles are occupied by people with different needs, these roles must have many dimensions such as pay, status, power, discretion that induce managers to perform.

  • Principle of managerial appraisal:

The more clearly verifiable objectives and required managerial activities are identified, the more precise can be the appraisal of managers against these criteria.

  • Principle of open competition:

The more an enterprise is committed to the assurance of quality management, the more it will encourage open competition among all candidates for management positions.

  • Principle of management training and development:

The more management training and development are integrated with the management process and enterprise objectives, the more effective the development programs and activities will be.

  • Principle of training objectives:

The more precisely the training objectives are stated, the more likely are the chances of achieving them. The analysis of training needs is the basis for training objectives that give direction to development and facilitate the measurement of the training efforts.

  • Principle of continuing development:

The more an enterprise is committed to managerial excellence, the more it requires that managers practice continuing self development. This principle suggests that in a fast changing and competitive environment, managers cannot stop learning. Instead, they have to update their managerial knowledge continuously, reevaluate their approaches to managing, and improve their managerial skills and performance to achieve enterprise objectives.

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