Performance Development Frequently Asked Questions

Why is performance development important?

The purpose of performance development is to improve communication about performance between an employee and her/his supervisor. The performance development system at Wellesley College is designed to provide alignment between the College's mission, constituent needs and performance expectations. The program fosters ongoing two-way communication between employees and managers; supports the development of clear, consistent, and measurable goals linked directly to Wellesley's core values and competencies; helps to articulate and support training needs and career development; and establishes the criteria for making reward and recognition decisions.
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When should performance development take place?

Performance development should be happening all year long. When a manager compliments an employee for a job well done or coaches an employee through a difficult situation, this is part of performance development.
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Does this mean there is no final performance review?

There is a summary review and assessment that should bring closure to the performance period and provide a basis for performance development for the next period. There should be no surprises at this point. Managers should ensure that the climate is appropriate for performance development discussions. Performance development discussions are confidential and should take place in a setting that is private with enough time allowed for a meaningful discussion.
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Who is responsible for performance development? What are the roles of the manager and the employee in performance development?

Both the manager and employee are responsible for performance development. The manager and employee meet together to set goals for the performance period. Throughout the performance period, the manager and employee should talk about performance and progress on a regular basis. At the end of the performance period, the manager and employee together should review the employee's progress and growth during the year vis-à-vis the competencies outlined for her/his role as well as reviewing goal achievement. The manager is responsible for preparing the summary documentation.
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Is performance development only about what I am doing wrong in my job?

Performance development is a continuous process of ongoing communication between employee and manager. Performance problems should be addressed as they occur and not saved for the big event, an end-of-year evaluation. Similarly, successful work performance should be recognized as it occurs. There should be no surprises during the summary review.
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My manager has not completed a performance review for me. My manager never gives me any feedback on my performance. My manager has asked me to write my own review. What can I do?

If your manager does not schedule a performance development meeting, you may certainly ask for the meeting. You may also solicit feedback directly from your manager. Some managers ask employees to provide written input about her/his performance; however, the manager is always responsible for providing an overall assessment of performance. Both managers and employees have a responsibility for performance development. Human Resources will monitor the completion of performance development documents, and managers will be held accountable for ensuring that this process is done.
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What happens if I don't agree with my manager's assessment of my performance?

Successful performance development assumes two-way communication between the manager and employee. By signing the performance appraisal document, you are saying that you have met with your manager to provide input to the document, that you have reviewed the document, and that you have met with your manager to discuss it. Your signature does not necessarily indicate that you agree with your manager's assessment of your performance. You have the right to respond to your evaluation in writing. If you disagree, you can discuss the differences during that session or ask to meet at a later date after you have had a chance to think about your issues. You have the option to write your own comments and have them as part of your record. Human Resources Representatives are available as a resource to discuss these issues.
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Why is goal setting emphasized under Wellesley's performance development program?

Goals are statements describing what organizations, departments, or individuals want to accomplish. By setting specific targets and defining the desired results, individuals and organizations are able to define priorities, establish directions, identify expected results, enhance teamwork, improve individual performance and clarify expectations. Wellesley College's mission is to provide a world-class, premier educational experience for women. Divisional goals are specific activities that provide a road map for achieving the College's mission. Department goals support divisional goals and individual goals support department goals. When all is said and done, all employees are working to support Wellesley's mission.
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What are the characteristics of good goals?

Good goals are SMART-specific, meaningful and measurable, agreed to and attainable, reality-based, and time-bound. Good goals should be a stretch. They should be a challenge to achieve but not so impossible that the employee is discouraged from even trying to achieve the goal.
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What happens when the goals the manager and employee have developed change?

An Interim Goal Review/Update has been established as part of the performance development process. This recognizes that changes in goals and expected results can and do occur due to unforeseen circumstances. This process encourages managers and employees to talk about performance and progress on a regular basis. It ensures that goals and performance are reviewed more than annually and performance planning and goals are updated and modified when necessary. Interim discussions can be initiated either by the manager or the employee and should be documented by a quick note, especially if changes are made.
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I am doing a good job and my job doesn't change much from year to year. Why should I have to set goals?

All roles are affected by internal changes in organizational structure and the way work is organized as well as by external changes driven by innovation, technology, and a changing workforce. There are always new things to be done and more effective and efficient ways to accomplish work. Individual goals can also be developmental, focusing on new skills or competencies.
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What is the role of the performance development process in career development?

Successful performance development provides a forum to identify opportunities for growth either in the existing role or a new one. It is both the manager's and the employee's responsibility to identify developmental needs. We need to take responsibility for our own self-development and actively seek and take advantage of opportunities for continuous learning as it applies to our role. Managers should support employees in this process.
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What if the performance development process highlights the fact that my role has changed?

A new role document should be completed when a role has changed significantly. Since the performance development process is based upon the role document and the competencies required for successful performance of a role, performance development discussions would highlight the fact that there were now significant changes in the role. Because the focus is not on a collection of tasks, role documents need to be updated less frequently than job descriptions.
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What is the timing of the performance development process?

For many departments and divisions, performance development documents are submitted annually for all staff during the fourth quarter of the fiscal year (April-June period). In other departments and divisions, performance development documents are completed and submitted annually for all staff in the department at the start of the academic year. Some managers combine the performance assessment and goals setting stages of performance development. Other managers choose to separate performance assessment from goal setting for the next performance period.
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What if the annual performance appraisal document was not completed before I received my salary increase?

Performance development is a year long process of communication between the manager and the employee. Annual salary increases will be based on on-going performance. There should be no surprises Ð positive or negative Ð because of this ongoing dialogue.
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The performance appraisal form does not work for my department, what can I do?

The performance appraisal form is a tool to support the process. If a different format works for you and your department and the format is consistent with this process, it is certainly acceptable. What needs to be incorporated is performance planning and goal setting. The performance planning needs to be in the context of the employee's role document focusing on the performance profile and required competencies. There needs to be ongoing discussions between employee and manager. Annually, there needs to be an assessment of performance during the period with regard to goal achievement and the strengths and weaknesses in the competencies required for successful performance of the role.
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How does Wellesley help managers and employees be successful with the performance development process?

Human Resources will provide orientation sessions for new managers and employees as well as ongoing group training in various aspects of performance development including: goal setting, giving and receiving feedback, managing conflict, and coaching and counseling. Tools to assist with the performance development include the departmental goals and operational plans, the role document, the performance appraisal guide, guidelines for effective performance development, and guidelines for setting goals and objectives.
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When do salary increases become effective?

All salary increase recommendations occur during the fourth fiscal quarter (April-June period) and become effective on July 1 each year.
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How does the size of the salary increase pool affect how much of an increase I can receive?

Supervisors and managers work within the constraints of the annual budgeted salary pool. Supervisors, managers, and department chairs recommend percentage salary increases to their division head based on the performance of the individual in the position. The final approval for the increase is by the head of the division who considers performance on a division-wide basis.
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How is the size of the salary increase pool determined?

Each year, Human Resources makes a recommendation to a Provost Budget Committee. This recommendation takes into account the market competitiveness of administrative staff salaries as well as factors such as inflation and how we expect other organizations will increase salaries. The Finance Office considers this recommendation and is responsible for presenting a fiscally responsible budget to the President and Board of Trustees for their approval. Over the course of an employee's working career, she/he may see some years with higher salary increase pools and some years with lower salary increase pools.
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Given that managers are held to a budgeted salary pool, doesn't it seem that in order to reward the good performers you have to penalize others?

An excellent performer should be rewarded more than a mediocre or poor performer. We realize that rewarding excellence might feel like penalizing those who are not performing as effectively. However, if you don't make those distinctions, those who are hurt are our best performers.
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What if managers have different standards defining excellent performance?

Part of our role in Human Resources is to have checks and balances in place to avoid this problem. The division head reviews all salary increase recommendation. Questions about the appropriateness of salary increase recommendations would be reviewed with the supervisors, managers, department heads, or department chairs who would best be able to answer questions about an employee's performance. The performance development process will help ensure that managers evaluate employees based on the same set of values and criteria. Ongoing training sessions help to develop a consistent vocabulary and structure around the performance development process and salary increase recommendations.
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To whom does this performance development process apply?

The performance development process outlined here is one of the components of the Valuing Work @ Wellesley program and applies only to the administrative staff. Those employees covered by collective bargaining unit contracts receive salary increases and are evaluated according to the terms of the negotiated contracts. Faculty have a separate evaluation and compensation system.
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HR values and respects confidentiality.

 

  1. Why is performance development important?
  2. When should performance development take place?
  3. Does this mean there is no final performance review?
  4. Who is responsible for performance development? What are the roles of the manager and the employee in performance development?
  5. Is performance development only about what I am doing wrong in my job?
  6. My manager has not completed a performance review for me. My manager never gives me any feedback on my performance. My manager has asked me to write my own review. What can I do?
  7. What happens if I don’t agree with my manager’s assessment of my performance?
  8. Why is goal setting emphasized under Wellesley’s performance development program?
  9. What are the characteristics of good goals?
  10. What happens when the goals the manager and employee have developed change?
  11. I am doing a good job and my job doesn’t change much from year to year. Why should I have to set goals?
  12. What is the role of the performance development process in career development?
  13. What if the performance development process highlights the fact that my role has changed?
  14. What is the timing of the performance development process?
  15. What if the annual performance appraisal document was not completed before I received my salary increase?
  16. The performance appraisal form does not work for my department, what can I do?
  17. How does Wellesley help managers and employees be successful with the performance development process?
  18. When do salary increases become effective?
  19. How does the size of the salary increase pool affect how much of an increase I can receive?
  20. How is the size of the salary increase pool determined?
  21. Given that managers are held to a budgeted salary pool, doesn't it seem that in order to reward the good performers you have to penalize others?
  22. What if managers have different standards defining excellent performance?
  23. To whom does this performance development process apply?