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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Sept. 26, 2008

Proposed program evaluates all P&S staff

by Erin Rosacker

A policy long in the making now is in draft form and available to the campus for comment through Nov. 3. The performance management policy would require managers to follow a set of guidelines in evaluating professional and scientific employees. A proposed performance management program accompanies the draft policy.

"In a large, complex organization, it is very important to have employers and supervisors talking to each other about the job, expectations and performance," said Carla Espinoza, associate vice president for human resource services. "The performance policy is directed to supervisors and satisfying their responsibilities to coach, guide, supervise, measure and reward or correct performance."

Currently, Iowa State lacks a centralized system to measure staff performance. The proposed program and policy emphasize the need for communication from the beginning -- establishing job duties and expectations as a way to measure performance.

"In an ideal world, supervisors and employees would communicate just to get to excellence, but personalities, styles, etc., sometimes get in the way," Espinoza said. "We were finding that, too often, employees were getting their first performance evaluations as documentation of non-performance and, therefore, the springboard to termination."

The program draft acknowledges that not all supervisors use yearly reviews in salary decisions for their P&S employees. Espinoza said this program also would serve as a method to help determine rewards.

"As we put a greater emphasis on performance in determining employee compensation, we needed to have reasonable, concise and helpful guides and tools for supervisors and for employees as well," she said.

How it works

The proposed program would document communication between managers and P&S employees, including:

  • Qualifications and duties expected for the job
  • Measurable standards and goals for satisfactory performance
  • Guidelines for routine evaluations throughout the year
  • Job performance ratings, from "exceeds expectations" to "needs improvement"
  • Corrective actions (a "performance improvement plan") to address unsatisfactory elements of job performance, behavior or conduct
  • Disciplinary actions, discharge or dismissal for unsatisfactory performance, behavior or conduct

"Conduct, behavior and attitude are as important to the job as the tasks and responsibilities themselves," Espinoza said. "[They] have a powerful impact on the workplace and on the performance of others."

Implementation and education

Once the policy is implemented, Espinoza said campus-wide training sessions would be organized for supervisors. Large group sessions, on-call assistance and web-posted guidelines would be part of that training, she said.

"Like anything else, the policy and the program are only as good as the use they get," Espinoza said. "There is a pretty clear statement in the policy that supervisors will be evaluated on the basis of their attention to this responsibility."

Espinoza, who was in at the ground level of the policy's development more than four years ago, envisions its comprehensive campus use.

"My first goal is to have a process that facilitates a 100 percent rate of participation in a process that evaluates employees at all levels," she said. "My second goal is to have a strategy for how this can be used in a salary administration process that promotes excellence and rewards outstanding performance."


Many pieces to the puzzle

The proposed performance management policy and program contain other components drafted for campus input, including:

  • A revised summary dismissal policy
  • Guidelines for supervisors
  • Grievance and appeal procedures for employment disputes
  • A glossary of terms for the program

The policy draft and program are available in the online policy library. The public comment period runs through Nov. 3 (