Understanding the Performance Appraisal Process and Performance Management

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Today I attended a professional development session: Understanding the Performance Appraisal Process and Performance Management as presented by Benita Clark.

In this session, employees with Wake Tech Community College had the opportunity to ask questions about the Performance Appraisal Process. The question: “What does it take to get a 4?” was explained and examples provided on what it takes to “exceed expectations”. HR was also there to answer questions about the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) and that process as well.

A little bit about this development session was bait-and-switch. When discussing “What It Takes to Get A 4”, the team basically pointed out that everyone wants a “4” (out of 4) on their performance appraisal review, and that receiving a 3 should be enough. We had recently switched from a 5 out of 5 system, and part of the presentation on “What It Takes to Get A 4” was centered around 4 actually being the new 3. And how “meets expectations” was the new standard.

In the second portion of the class, they gave examples of staff members going above and beyond to receive a “4” rating in the new system. This upset quite a few people. First, the difference between staff and faculty is a pretty large gulf. The things that staff would do to receive high grades might include taking on a big project, heading a committee with the school president on it, or getting new outside funding for the school. Secondly, the examples for receiving a “4” rating included things many people already did but were not receiving “4” ratings for: having extended office hours, building new or updated curriculum for your departments, teaching 5 or more classes in a semester, getting stellar ratings on your course evaluations, posting more than 5 office hours during the week, leading a student club, lecturing to clubs or outside groups, running special projects for the deans, etc.

This ended up with lots of muttering and displeasure from faculty members asking questions about how they could bring information from this session to their supervisors to boost their scores, how they could retroactively improve their performance reports, and how some people were already doing these things for years and had never seen top scores.

In the end, we discussed this topic so much, and so animatedly, that this part of the session ended with a note very loudly from Benita Clark that the ultimate determining factor in your performance review came from your supervisor.

At this point I mentioned that during my most recent performance evaluation, my supervisor had said “We are supposed to give every single teacher a 3. We aren’t EVER supposed to give out a 4 rating unless it has been pre-approved by the Dean.” Benita mentioned again that everyone wanted to get a 4, and that each department was different.

We had taken up so much time with our Q&A session that we had to rush extremely fast through the PIP session. The Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) session was short, sweet, to the point. Benita wrote here email on the board and suggested any future questions could be addressed to her directly.