Provide ongoing feedback.
Supervisors are encouraged to have an ongoing dialogue with their employees about performance and development throughout the year. Supervisors are urged to provide clear messages to their staff regarding the assessment of their performance.
The performance communication should happen throughout the year. The annual appraisal process formalizes that ongoing communication. An employee’s annual performance appraisal is an important event in their work life, and as such the communication should be sensitively delivered and reflect an accurate picture of the employee’s performance for the whole performance period.
Consider colleague feedback.
Most employees interact regularly with other staff, faculty and students in addition to their supervisor. There are many sources of information for feedback about an employee’s performance. One source of such information could be colleagues that have worked with the employee during the performance period. Feedback sought from others can help provide a well-balanced overview of an employee’s performance. We believe that performance appraisals are more reflective of an individual’s contributions and overall performance when they incorporate the views of others.
Colleagues with firsthand knowledge of the employee’s work are the best sources of useful feedback. These colleagues should be able to provide specific examples about the employee’s performance. Supervisors may consider asking employees for names of colleagues they believe can accurately assess the quality, timeliness, productivity of their work over the performance period. Supervisors should also independently identify relevant colleagues. Ultimately, the supervisor will determine who will be asked for feedback and is not required to share with the employee the names of colleagues from whom they eventually solicit feedback.
Supervisors can use various methods from gathering the information: in-person meeting, telephone call, email, or Google form (survey). Regardless of the method of collection, supervisors might consider posing some of the following prompts to potential feedback providers:
- What contributions has the employee made during the course of the year and the impact that resulted from such contributions?
- How has the employee approached their responsibilities?
- How well did the employee demonstrate certain competencies (key to their position) this year? (Cite competencies in the solicitation that are important to the employee’s role and/or that have been an area of focus.)
- How effective was the employee in delivering upon the following results/tasks expected or projects led?
- Do you have suggestions regarding areas for development and/or improvement for the employee?
- What should the employee continue doing?
- What should the employee stop doing?
Supervisors should assure colleagues from whom they solicit feedback that the information will be shared anonymously (unless otherwise agreed) and used to help in structuring the employee’s development, and that their thoughts and comments are valuable to the evaluation process and the employee’s success. To help supervisors manage various feedback solicitations (especially immediately before performance evaluations), it is suggested that a date by which it would be most helpful to receive feedback is provided to the colleague.
Use outside feedback effectively.
How colleague feedback is utilized and presented to the employee is very important. If the employee knows the source and circumstances of the feedback, they may have a better opportunity to change behavior and make improvement. At the same time, the colleague providing the feedback may not be as forthcoming if the source is identifiable. In the event the manager intends to provide feedback in a format that would reveal the colleague’s identity, there should be an agreement between the colleague and manager in advance about the attribution and presentation of the feedback.
Ideally, outside feedback should be incorporated into the overall body of the performance evaluation to be most impactful to the employee and to avoid a piece of feedback being seen as isolated to single instance or feedback provider.
One final note: If seeking colleague feedback is incorporated regularly over the course of the performance year, it is more likely to be viewed as a part of the overall performance management process. Moreover, seeking colleague feedback will be part of an ongoing two-way conversation that allows for honest and open communication and faster improvement in performance.