Before redesigning performance management in higher education, get answers to these 7 questions

‘The more people you bring on board and get feedback from, the better your product will be and the more people will buy in’

The Harvard Business Review found employers are “finally acknowledging that both supervisors and subordinates despise the appraisal process — a perennial problem that feels more urgent now that the labor market is picking up and concerns about retention have returned.”[1]

Some higher education leaders are stating the problem more simply: “Performance management — the idea of being reviewed — is not something people enjoy,” said Emily Wilson, assistant director of learning and organizational development at Appalachian State University (App State) in Boone, North Carolina.

Studies show that determining what employees like or dislike about performance management is the first step toward delivering improvements; higher education institutions can do this by surveying employees and reviewing survey data. [2][3],[4]

Information shared during a focus group with higher education talent management professionals — from consortiums, private institutions, state universities, community colleges and Ivy League schools —led to the development of these seven suggested employee survey questions:

  1. Do you feel your conversations during performance reviews are candid and honest? If not, what needs to change to make that happen?
  2. How frequently do you and your manager engage in performance-related conversations? What is the ideal frequency?
  3. Do your annual/semester/quarterly goals contribute to your professional growth and the institution’s mission? If not, what barriers prevent this?
  4. Faculty only: Are your accomplishments — published articles, research findings, etc. — accurately documented and fairly weighted as part of your performance reviews? What’s the ideal way to include your accomplishments?
  5. How well do current performance management processes contribute to your institution’s goals? Should they align? If so, what could be done to improve alignment?
  6. What do you believe are the purposes of performance reviews? Are those purposes met?
  7. Do you think performance reviews should be tied to pay raises? If so, how should performance-based compensation work? If not, how do you think the institution can effectively motivate exemplary performance? What other employee engagement tactics do you think will be effective?
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Asking these questions will help you ensure your performance management process meets the needs of various departments.

“The more people you bring on board and get feedback from, the better your product will be and the more people will buy in,” Emily said.

This blog is a preview of “Best practices guide to transforming performance management in higher education.” Download the full e-book for more actionable advice and tips based on leading research and experts’ experiences.

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  • [1] Cappelli, Peter and Tavis, Anna. “The Performance Management Revolution.” Harvard Business Review. October 2016.
  • [2] Ibid
  • [3] “Performance Management Can Be Fixed.” CEB, 2016.
  • [4] Bersin, Josh. “HR Technology Disruptions for 2017: Nine Trends Reinventing the HR Software Market.” Deloitte Development LLC, 2016.

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