Annual Review Process: Performance Rating Definitions
Performance reviews are written and stored in the online performance review system on eServe.
You should schedule and hold performance review meetings with your direct reports by mid-June. You can begin drafting reviews in the online Performance Review system prior to this meeting beginning in March. To begin the performance review process and help your employees think constructively about their performance over the past year, you can send them the combined Employee Self-Assessment & Manager Feedback form. In the performance review discussion, you and your direct report review performance from the past year including:
- Areas for improvement
- Development opportunities
When you complete the performance review, you should select the rating that best summarizes your direct report's overall performance. Please indicate this category in both the online Performance Review and merit system.
Annual Performance Review Rating Definitions
The written performance review for each employee should reflect your objective feedback regarding the employee’s work performance and contributions to the business. Additionally, the review should include input from the employee and business partners with whom they work.
Constructive feedback is an important element to employee performance development, professional growth, and the success of the university.
As you consider an employee’s performance and write the performance review, you will select the performance review rating category that reflects the employee’s overall work performance and contributions to the business. To make it easier for you to differentiate performance among your staff and to recognize the very top performers, we are introducing a new 5-point scale to be used for fiscal year 2023 performance reviews:
- Needs Improvement
An employee given "Exemplary" set the standard for excellence across all aspects of their job; achieved exceptional results and produced the highest quality work, delivering on their goals collaboratively and collegially. They were a role model and subject matter expert within the organization this year.
The expectation is a small number of employees will receive this rating based on the exceptional results that are displayed.
School/unit leadership may require approval prior to managers assigning this rating to any of their direct reports.
The Exemplary rating is meant to truly acknowledge those employees who set the standard of performance across all aspects of their jobs.
An employee given "Excelling" brought value above and beyond their job responsibilities and often exceeded the expectations of their position.
The Excelling rating recognizes employees with value and contributions above and beyond their job responsibilities and expectations in their role.
An employee given "Successful" delivered on their job responsibilities and fully met performance expectations. They demonstrated a high level of expertise and made meaningful contributions to the success of the unit/organization. A new employee given this rating is progressing as expected.
The expectation is that most staff across the university will receive the performance rating of Successful. Employees who receive this rating are fully meeting their performance expectations and making meaningful contributions.
An employee given "Needs Improvement" met some of their job responsibilities and goals. Performance in some of their job functions requires development and/or improvement. A new employee given this rating is continuing to learn their role and needs development in some areas.
An employee is given “Unsuccessful” when job performance and demonstrated behaviors did not meet the minimum standards of their job responsibilities and were not acceptable. There are performance gaps that have been identified and require immediate action.
If you are considering an Unsuccessful performance rating, the performance review conversation should not be the first time that the employee is hearing this.
Performance Improvement Plans or conversations should already be in place, and the supervisor should have had conversations with their Human Resources Business Partner and unit leadership prior to an employee receiving this rating for their annual review.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is the purpose of the 5-point rating scale? Why not keep the 4-point scale we had before?
We received feedback from the focus groups conducted last fall, as well as from previous years, that it was difficult to differentiate performance, especially between the former Successfully Meets Expectations and Consistently Exceeds Expectations. We researched rating scales used by other universities as well as those used across various industries. We identified a wide range of ratings that organizations use, from three ratings to five and more.
A 5-point scale will give supervisors a greater ability to differentiate performance among their staff and to recognize the very top performers. With this new scale, we wanted to keep the definitions clear and concise to eliminate any confusion or ambiguity. The final definitions went through multiple rounds of reviews and revisions with senior leadership to ensure they were as clear and differentiated as possible.
Can you talk about why HR is implementing a new performance rating scale at this point in the year versus just starting this next year?
The purpose of introducing the new 5-point scale at this time is to give supervisors greater ability to assess and differentiate performance among their staff. Not only did we hear this need expressed in the focus groups we conducted last fall, but we have heard it many times before. Introducing a new scale now should not influence how an employee is performing. With this in mind, there was no compelling reason to wait until next fiscal year to put the new rating scale in place.
How do the ratings on the new 5-point scale compare to those on the old 4-point scale?
The new performance ratings are not meant to be compared to the ratings on the previous 4-point scale. There is no one-to-one correlation between the two scales. The intention of expanding the rating scale is to give supervisors greater ability to differentiate performance among employees. We want to enable supervisors to accurately assess employees based on what they did and how they performed during the current fiscal year.
What is the purpose of the self-assessment form? Can I still use the old forms?
The purpose of this form is to have both the employee’s and supervisor’s assessment in one place and to make it easily accessible from the online performance review system. The new form includes a section on one side for the employee’s self-assessment and one on the other side for the supervisor to add brief comments and feedback. At the end of the form, there is a section for the supervisor to provide an overall performance summary. This form replaces the previous forms.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for Managers
Read answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Managers.
For More Information
For questions about the Annual Review process, please reach out to your Human Resources Business Partner.