CLD and HR are offering a series of workshops which are designed to enable staff to have more meaningful performance discussions.
Find out how to set and write work objectives that are SMART and aligned with faculty/centre's operational plan and ECU's strategic priorities.
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As the supervisor, you will ensure that the Performance Planning and Review meeting will take place in a confidential, supportive environment that is free from distraction and interruptions.
As a guide, approximately 20% of your time should be spent on discussing and reviewing past performance and 80% of your time should be talking about the future.
- Reviewing performance for the past year
- Identifying and planning work objectives for the coming year
- What if we can't agree?
Reviewing performance for the past year
How to conduct the MPS discussion
The MPS discussion is a shared responsibility between you and the staff member based around the supporting evidence and relevant documents that have been collected.
The discussion is an opportunity for you to:
- give positive and constructive feedback about the staff member's achievements and raise areas of performance that could be improved or enhanced;
- clearly explain the standards and expectations that you and the faculty/centre expect from the staff member in relation to their performance. Check the staff member understands these; and
- discuss whether or not the work objectives and development plans that have been determined are achievable, appropriate with the classification level, and relevant to the needs of the school/faculty or centre.
Key elements for a meaningful discussion
Building rapport is about building similarities at an unconscious level. It involves verbal and non-verbal communication and makes the other person feel comfortable. Rapport can be built consciously through good preparation and well-developed emotional intelligence skills. The physical setting is also a factor - people generally are more comfortable when one of the key boss-subordinate power symbols, the supervisor's desk, is removed. According to one source there are six things needed to build rapport:
- Match the person's sensory modality - Match and mirror they way they think and talk
- Mirror their physiology - posture, facial expressions, gestures, etc.
- Match their voice - tone, tempo, volume, key words they use ("I see", "I feel", I think") etc
- Match their breathing pace
- Match how they deal with information - their 'chunk size' i.e. are they detailed or big picture?
- Match common experiences - interests, values, background, etc.
Source: Life Coaching Studio: www.lifecoachingstudio.com/acom13.htm
Listening skills are vital - a good conversation involves synergy or deep listening (more than simply hearing what's being said). Superior listeners put aside their personal values that may otherwise sway their judgements and assumptions. Skills to enhance active listening are: acknowledging, restating, paraphrasing, reflecting, interpreting, summarising, synthesising, probing, checking perception, avoiding distractions, leaving out emotions, feeling empathy, giving eye contact and being quiet.
When listening to the staff member try to get the most accurate understanding possible of her/his personal experience, without judging or providing advice. Be aware of your tone of voice, body language (open, closed) and facial expressions.
Useful questions to learn more about exactly what they mean might include: When? What? Where? Who? Do you mean...? (Paraphrase to check that your understanding is accurate.)
N.B. - Be careful with "Why?" as this is sometimes overused.
Questioning skills are closely linked to listening skills. Good questioning helps the other party develop greater self-understanding which should lead them taking personal responsibility for the outcomes of the performance conversation and achieve positive change. Open questions provide greater opportunities for our listener to reflect and develop self-understanding - closed questions (did, have, etc) tend to provide yes/no responses only. "How", "what", "tell me" tend to be the most powerful questions followed by "when", "where", "who" questions. Use "why" questions sparingly as they tend to make our listener defensive, forcing them to justify their actions.
Management for Performance discussions require two-way communication. Our response to the staff member's attempts to discuss the performance can vary between being passive (where we do not express our thoughts or feelings honestly), assertive, or aggressive (where we place our own rights above those of the staff member's). Assertiveness is the middle way - it's the ability to honestly and constructively express our thoughts and feelings without placing our rights or needs above those of our listener (in this case, the staff member). Assertive statements are expressed without humiliating, dominating or insulting the other person. Often assertiveness requires that your clearly state what outcome you are seeking using "I" statements i.e. "I want", "I need", "I would prefer", "I'm upset about...", etc.
A word of warning! Don't fall into the passive trap by trying to minimise your desired outcomes by adding a question or statement that subordinates your needs i.e. "I don't want to do that (the assertive comment), is that okay by you?" By being assertive you will feel more confident and gain respect from others.
How to identify and evidence performance?
As the supervisor, you will lead the discussion in highlighting the staff member's overall performance and then specifically recognising achievements against the agreed work objectives, professional development and areas for improvement for the period just completed, based on evidence gathered.
In preparing for the meeting, you will have reflected upon and collated evidence of performance outcomes for the staff member.
Below are examples of questions you may like to ask the staff member to lead or begin the review discussion:
- Are you enjoying your current role? Do you feel you've been able to achieve all your work objectives?
- What did you achieve in relation to the agreed work objectives? (Refer to specific objectives identified in the "My Work Plan"). What factors (if any) prevented you from satisfactorily achieving the agreed work objectives?
- What other achievements have you accomplished that were not on the agreed "My Work Plan"? (if any)
- What professional development activities did you undertake during the year? Did this help you achieve your work objectives?
- For Executive Staff only
How did you contribute to the achievement of ECU's strategic priorities? What factors (if any) prevented you from contributing to the achievement of ECU's strategic priorities?
- For situations where there are areas identified for improvement or enhancement
What can I do to support you in the achievement of your work objectives?
You should comment on any other performance issues relating to the relevant documentation.
How to assess and rate performance?
You will be required to assess and rate the extent of achievement for each of the staff member's agreed work objectives based on the following ratings:
|Performance Outcome Ratings||Definition of Ratings|
|Achieved Above Expectation||Performance outcomes consistently exceed expectation. The consistently high standard has earned recognition by others internal and/or external to the University|
|Achieved||Performance outcomes (in most areas) met the requirements of the work objective|
|Not Achieved||Performance outcomes and/or behaviour falls short of the required standard|
Staff are also encouraged to rate their own performance against each of their work objectives. In determining a rating against each work objective, consider the extent the indicators and targets were met or exceeded.
Staff may comment on each of the final ratings against the agreed work objectives, however, the final performance outcome ratings will be determined by the supervisor. The supervisor's assessment is based solely on the achievement of the work objectives agreed and documented in the "My Work Plan."
Identifying and planning work objectives for the coming year
Setting SMART objectives linked to faculty/centre's operational plans
As the supervisor, you will lead the conversation to ensure that work objectives are SMART and are clearly aligned with faculty/centre's operational plans and ECU's strategic priorities.
The staff member should come to the meeting prepared, having considered their role in relation to the work area. Staff are encouraged to draft their own work objectives utilising the SMART technique and propose these for discussion at the meeting.
When setting work objectives, identify the key priorities for the faculty/centre that relate to the staff member's position and where that position can add value or contribute to achieving that priority, to determine the number or scope of the work objectives applicable. As a guide, staff should work toward achieving 3-5 key work objectives relevant to their faculty/centre's operational plan.
You will discuss with the staff member in turn, one or more work objectives in each of the key work priorities. These work objectives must be relevant to the faculty/centre's operational plan and to the staff member's classification level.
All work objectives should be written in accordance with the following "SMART" principles:
- Specific: work objectives clearly specify the intended outcomes
- Measurable: it is possible to monitor progress and outcomes and determine the extent to which objectives are achieved, based on evidence
- Achievable: objectives are challenging but are capable of being achieved, and that individual staff have the necessary time, skills, resources and authority to deliver results.
- Realistic: objectives are relevant and align with and support the strategic priorities of the faculty/centre and ECU
- Timely: clear target dates are set for achieving work objectives and completing interim steps.
Throughout the performance year, if work priorities change for the staff member you supervise, it is strongly advisable to meet informally with the staff member to review and discuss the work objectives to ensure it reflects the changing work demands. The "My Work Plan" should also be updated to reflect the outcome of the informal discussion.
Identifying professional development opportunities
The professional development activities identified should assist the staff member to meet or exceed expectations in relation to their work objectives, current position or to develop their career. Those activities chosen should be relevant to the staff member's role and provide benefits to both the individual staff member and the team/faculty/centre.
Examples of professional development opportunities:
- External conferences: a short term or one-off learning program offered by another institution
- Higher education study: enrolment in a course of study in a University, TAFE or registered training organisation
- Professional Development Courses: various courses offered by the Professional Development team at ECU
- Breakfast seminars: invitation to attend business breakfast seminars or brown bag sessions that relate to your work area
- Work-based learning: activities undertaken within the workplace, examples include on-the-job training, working in project teams or working groups, higher duty appointments, committee participation
- Mentoring or Coaching: working closely with a designated person to develop skills, knowledge and strategy.
- Temporary Internal Appointment: temporarily working in another area of the University for a period of time to develop new skills.
- Other: there are other ways that you can identify and offer the staff member, that will assist them in achieving their work objectives.
Note, the above are subject to the appropriate approvals (ie may require Executive Dean/Dean approval).
Both you and the staff member should agree to the professional development activities identified. Who is responsible for taking action of and ensuring that it is organised should be discussed between you, including the time frames in which these activities need to be completed by. As supervisor, you will ensure that it is followed through, factoring in time and resources.
Identifying career paths and steps
Information to be provided shortly.
What if we can't agree?
Performance Management is a partnership between you and the staff member, however there may be an occasion where, after discussion, you cannot agree on ratings or objectives. If this occurs, you are to note this fact and are authorised to make the final decision. If conflict does arise during the meeting, either of you may adjourn the meeting and arrange for a third person (Performance Review Associate) to attend the reconvened meeting, in accordance with the relevant grievance resolution process.
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