Proposed Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Staff Employees

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Title: Performance Planning and Evaluation Policy for Staff Employees
Effective Date: July 1, 2010
Revision Date:  [June __], 2018
Responsible Office: Provost

I. Scope

This policy applies to all Operational employees and Professionals and Professional Faculty (collectively “staff employees”) of William & Mary, including the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (the “university”).

II. Purpose

This policy establishes a system for (1) setting performance goals and objectives as well as career development goals; (2) monitoring staff employee progress, providing constructive feedback and evaluating performance; and (3) aligning performance plans with the university’s and units’ strategic plan to the extent practical.  It fosters open communication between managers and employees in the process.

III. Definitions

Achievement Levels: Categories for rating the level of an employee’s performance. There are five achievement levels:

Exceptional Performer – Employee exceeds expectations by stepping well beyond the scope of his or her position description to deliver real change to the department or unit.  The individual is an exceptional employee who achieves an unusually high level of performance relative to all assignments and objectives. The expectation is that this rating should reflect performance in the top 5% of all performers.

Advanced Performer – The employee is a critical member of the team with performance that is consistently above established expectations. The employee seeks improvement of self, office practices, team, and/or department. The individual goes above and beyond what is expected to contribute to the success of the department or unit.  The expectation is that this rating should be given to staff members who are in the top 15% of all performers. 

Solid Performer – The employee fully meets the established job expectations and is a reliable and solid performer.  The employee generally performs well and requires little additional guidance.  The individual demonstrates initiative to meet goals and objectives of position.  The expectation is that most staff should be in this category, unless they are newly hired or have new responsibilities. 

Developing Performer – The employee meets some of the job expectations, but not all.  The individual requires support and direction to complete assignments. The employee generally performs at a minimum level and improvement is needed to fully meet expectations. This rating may be given to a new employee who has yet to learn, or master, a specific skill. In this latter case, the rating is a reflection of the staff member's time in the position.

Under-Performer – The employee's performance generally fails to meet the established expectations or requires frequent supervision and/or the redoing of work. The individual is not performing at the level expected for employees doing this type of work. Unacceptable job performance is due to the employee's lack of knowledge, skill or effort.

Basic Competencies: The knowledge, skills, and abilities that an individual applies when performing a job. These are broad competencies that transcend the duties of a particular position but influence the level of an employee’s achievement. The following are the basic competencies indicative of a proficient employee:

  • Accountability, Responsibility, and Dependability – Shows initiative; takes ownership of job responsibilities; seeks input and acts upon feedback; enhances personal knowledge, skills and abilities; takes responsibility for and/or acknowledges errors; completes assignments and follows through on commitments and tasks.
  • Relationship Building – Serves as a positive team member and/or colleague; treats co-workers with respect, honesty and fairness; establishes productive working relationships; is flexible and adapts to changing priorities; resolves conflicts effectively.
  • Communication – Communicates orally and in writing at a level appropriate for his/her position; shares information on a timely basis with supervisors and direct reports; engages in meaningful, two-way conversations; speaks effectively; understands others; listens attentively and clarifies information when necessary; demonstrates effective interpersonal communication with direct reports, peers, and supervisors.
  • Institutional Values – Embraces the university’s commitment to maintain a diverse and inclusive workplace; ensure awareness of and promotes university policies and procedures; demonstrates commitment to mission and values of William & Mary as well as department goals; projects a positive image of William & Mary,
  • Problem Solving/Decision Making – Gives reasonable consideration to all facets of issues that may arise, gathers and analyzes information; demonstrates strong, rational, and critical thinking skills; demonstrates creativity; committed to finding solutions; makes timely decisions, successfully reconciles conflicting views.

Supervisor Competencies:  The following competencies are vital to the success of all individuals who supervise staff and/or students.

  • Leadership/Managing Others – Treats others with respect and fairness; demonstrates strong emotional control; holds employees accountable; provides timely constructive and balanced feedback; recognizes importance of the performance management process; motivates subordinates and fosters teamwork; works to resolve conflicts quickly, fairly and effectively; and plans, controls, and delegates work effectively.
  • Coaching and Developing – Sets specific goals and job objectives and works with staff members to prioritize and revise goals; motivates staff members to perform at the highest level; provides support and guidance to employees; identifies training and development opportunities; and guides employees to come up with solutions and learn from mistakes.

Core Job Responsibilities and/or Performance Goals: Core job responsibilities are duties that are primary and essential to the work performed and represent the most important functions or duties of the position as specified in the position description and/or the achievement of specific performance goals that the employee and supervisor set together for each Performance Year.

Interim Performance Evaluation: A discussion of an employee’s performance completed during the performance year that informs the employee of his or her progress toward achieving annual goals.

Performance Evaluation: The formal evaluation that determines an employee’s achievement level and the extent to which an employee’s performance meets his or her annual goals.

Performance Plan: The document that contains an employee’s annual goals and professional development plan.

Performance Year: Annual cycle for evaluating employees’ performance and establishing annual goals for the next performance year. The Performance Year begins on May 1 of one year and ends on April 30 of the following year. Supervisors, with the approval of the Office of Human Resources, may establish an alternate performance year for employees with specified term contracts or for employees whose job performance is tied to a cyclical period that is different than the Performance Year.

Personnel File: For the purposes of this policy, a file consisting of employment-related information gathered by the university that relates to salary, benefits, performance evaluation, disciplinary actions, promotions, demotions, transfers, leave, or termination.  Official personnel files are housed and maintained in a consistent manner in the Office of Human Resources or as otherwise determined by the Provost.

Position Description: A document that describes in broad terms the core responsibilities, required qualifications and the reporting relationship of the position. Position descriptions do not detail all tasks required to fulfill the core responsibilities, and are not necessarily unique to a specific employee.

Reviewer: Typically, the management employee to whom the supervisor directly reports.

Supervisor: The immediate supervisor of the employee who is being evaluated.

Supervisor’s File: The supervisor may keep a confidential file for each employee. This file may be used to compile any notes, memoranda, work samples and interim performance evaluation documents related to that specific employee’s annual performance evaluation. The employee has the right to review this file as provided by DHRM Policy No. 6.05, unless such information is protected by law.

Unit: Any school, institute, or academic or administrative department, program or office of the university.

IV. Roles and Responsibilities


  • Participates with supervisor in the development of a performance plan (See Section V) and may make suggestions for revising the performance plan as necessary during the performance year;
  • Participates with supervisor in the review and updating of the employee’s position description as needed;
  • Has a clear understanding of supervisor’s expectations and requests clarification if necessary;
  • Manages own performance to achieve annual goals, bringing to supervisor’s attention circumstances that may affect their achievement;
  • Seeks performance feedback from supervisor as well as internal and external customers;
  • Fully participates in performance discussions; and
  • Addresses aspects of performance identified as needing improvement.


  • Seeks input from employee regarding the development of a performance plan;
  • Communicates and documents each employee’s performance plan;
  • Participates with the employee in the review and updating of the employee’s position description;
  • Meets with employee on a regular basis during the performance year, which should include discussing employee’s performance as well as progress toward achieving annual goals; documents the discussion when appropriate;
  • Addresses instances of poor performance or other significant performance issues in a timely manner;
  • If appropriate, seeks feedback concerning employee performance from internal and external sources including external peers, team members, coworkers, suppliers, or others;
  • Assists employees whose performance has been identified as needing improvement in one or more aspects to make the necessary improvement;
  • Prepares annual performance evaluations, ensuring that all significant performance issues are documented; and
  • Meets with employees individually to discuss their evaluations and development

Vice President, Dean, Director, and Department Head

  • Provide for the training needed to increase supervisors’ effectiveness in performance management and evaluation; and
  • Ensure that all supervisors are knowledgeable about the processes and requirements of this policy and abide by it.

Provost and Human Resources

  • Ensure that the university’s senior management is knowledgeable about the processes and requirements of this policy and abides by it;
  • Support employees and their supervisors in the performance management process; and
  • Maintain files and records

V. Performance Planning

In order to accommodate the many and various types of employee positions, this process is designed to provide latitude to supervisors in selecting the goals and/or key job responsibilities  most appropriate for a position.

At the beginning of the performance year, the supervisor, with input from the employee, will develop a performance plan. The performance plan includes (a) specific annual goals and/or key job responsibilities that are reasonably to be expected and attainable; and (b) professional training and development goals for the employee. In all cases, employees are expected to meet or exceed the job expectations for the position and perform their job duties; annual goals may be specific projects or targets relating to one or more job duties, or may be particular performance objectives or metrics for completing certain job duties. Annual goals may also reflect specific needs of the unit for the coming year, including those arising from the university’s or unit’s strategic plan. A key responsibility may be a major job responsibility expected of the position or related core job tasks or functions that are grouped together. The goals and/or key responsibilities should be assigned a percentage that reflects the weight of each goal and/or key responsibility for the performance cycle.  The total weight must equal 100 percent.

While the plan will establish the goals, objectives, and performance necessary to achieve performance as a Solid Performer, supervisors and employees are encouraged to discuss the opportunity and effort needed to achieve higher performance levels.

Supervisors will establish a performance plan for the upcoming year within the time frames communicated each year by the Office of Human Resources and will meet individually with each employee to discuss the final performance plan and give the employee a copy of his or her plan. If an issue remains between the supervisor and employee concerning the plan, the issue should be resolved by the reviewer.

A performance plan for new employees must be established within 30 days of their start date. For employees whose start date is within ninety (90) calendar days of the beginning of their positions’ performance year, a performance plan will be established for that next performance year.

When changes to the position description are necessary, the supervisor and employee will review the employee’s position description for accuracy.

VI. During the Performance Year

The supervisor may document an employee’s performance throughout the Performance Year as needed. Documentation will be maintained in a confidential supervisor’s file, which can be accessed by the employee as provided above. If during the Performance Year, the employee is not performing as expected, the supervisor will provide the employee with notice of improvement needed or implement an improvement plan advising the employee of conduct or behavior that must change and the time frame for doing so.

Documentation may include, but is not limited to:

  • interim performance evaluations;
  • memoranda relating to employees’ performance or behavior;
  • work samples;
  • informal notes; and feedback from colleagues and others with whom the employee has professional contact.

If, during the performance year, there are significant changes to the employee’s goals and/or key responsibilities, the supervisor, after meeting with the employee, will revise and make the appropriate change to the performance plan, and if needed, to the position description.

If the supervisor changes during the performance period, the departing supervisor will complete a written interim performance evaluation of the employee.

VII. Performance Evaluation


The typical method of performance evaluation is a supervisory evaluation.  Supervisors may consider input from employees in other departments in completing a supervisory evaluation.  A supervisor may use a different method of evaluation – for example peer-to-peer evaluations or “360-degree reviews” – provided that the supervisor informs the employee at the beginning of the performance year of the primary methods or bases the supervisor will use in evaluating the employee’s performance for the upcoming year. 

Cornerstone System

Supervisors are required to use the Cornerstone Performance Evaluation System.  Changes to the Cornerstone system may be made with approval of the Provost and Senior Vice President – Finance and Administration.


Employee performance is evaluated at the end of each Performance Year (see Section III above). Employees who begin work within ninety (90) calendar days of the beginning of a new performance year may not receive a formal performance evaluation for that performance year provided that the supervisor has completed a 30 or 60 or 90 day review for that employee.

Process and Documentation

The supervisor prepares the evaluation, rating the employee’s achievement level with respect to the prior year’s performance plan. When rating the employee’s achievement of the annual goals and/or key responsibilities in the performance plan, the supervisor should consider the extent to which the university competencies are reflected in job performance. While not rated, these values are the broad competencies described above in Section III that transcend the duties of a particular position but influence the level of employee achievement in his or her role.

In addition, as a part of the year-end performance evaluation, the supervisor will provide the employee with an opportunity to complete a self-assessment based on his or her performance plan.

The supervisor will provide the performance evaluation documentation to the reviewer for review and approval. The reviewer is responsible for ensuring consistent and appropriate application of the evaluation process. The Office of Human Resources is responsible and for ensuring that all performance evaluation documents are maintained in the university’s electronic performance management records.

The employee will have the opportunity to review the final performance evaluation at least one (1) business day prior to meeting individually with the supervisor to discuss it.

Non-probationary employees who are at the Developing Performer or Under-Performer level will be will be given a counseling memorandum and/or performance improvement plan and re-evaluated in the time period that is set in the counseling memorandum or performance improvement plan to determine whether performance has improved. Employees whose performance has not reasonably improved  by the end of the re-evaluation period of not less than 30 days are subject to termination for cause. (See Appointments and Terminations for Professionals and Professional Faculty and Standards of Conduct for Operational Employees.)  Probationary employees remain subject to the terms of the Probationary Period Policy.

Notwithstanding the existence of a performance improvement plan or counseling memorandum, employees may be terminated or removed for cause at any time as provided by the Appointments and Terminations Policy for Professionals and Professional Faculty or as provided in the Standards of Conduct for Operational employees.

VIII.  Appealing Performance Evaluations

An employee who disagrees with his or her performance evaluation should discuss the issue with his or her supervisor and, within ten (10) business days of having received the evaluation, may request that it be reconsidered. The supervisor may decline to reconsider the evaluation, or may reconsider it and either affirm or revise the original evaluation. This action must be taken within ten (10) business days of the employee’s request for reconsideration.

If the issue cannot be resolved with the supervisor, the employee may, within ten (10) business days of receiving the supervisor’s response, file a written appeal with the reviewer.

The reviewer will discuss the appeal with the employee and the supervisor. Within ten (10) business days of receiving the appeal, the reviewer must respond in writing to the employee. The response should indicate one of the following results:

  • the reviewer agrees with the supervisor’s appraisal of the employee’s performance; or
  • the supervisor will revise the evaluation or complete a new evaluation

The reviewer’s decision is final with regard to the performance evaluation; however, employees alleging policy violations have access to the procedures provided in the applicable grievance procedure for Operational employees and Grievance Resolution Policy for Professionals and Professional Faculty  .

Deadlines described above may be extended to accommodate vacations or other absences or other reasonable delays.

IX.  Guidelines for Salary Increases for Eligible Employees

The evaluation of employees’ performance is the basis for merit increases for eligible employees. (See Compensation Policy.) Performance can be recognized and rewarded with a base salary increase or a one-time performance bonus. In order to ensure consistency and accuracy when determining salary increases, the Provost, Vice Presidents, and Deans will discuss with their direct reports how to apply the guidelines for merit increases throughout their units, including the maximum percentage of increases within the budget allocations provided. Under the Compensation Policy, the final approval of recommended merit increases rests with the Provost.

Employees who are at the Developing Performer level will typically receive a reduced merit increase, or no increase; however, employees at the Developing Performer level remain eligible for a market increase if the university awards an across the board market increase to all employees. . Employees who or at the Under-Performer level will not receive a merit or market salary increase, and these employees will typically not be eligible for future increases until they have achieved performance at the Solid Performer level for at least 12 consecutive months.

Employees hired within ninety (90) calendar days of the beginning of their positions’ performance year typically are not eligible for salary increases for that year.

X. Authority, Implementation, and Amendment

This policy is approved by the President in accordance with the Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act, Chapter 4.10, Title 23 of the Code of Virginia and the Management Agreement effective July 1, 2006.

The Provost, in conjunction with the Office of Human Resources, is responsible for the interpretation and administration of this policy.

The Provost may revise or eliminate this policy at any time. Any proposed substantial revision not necessitated by change in state or federal statute will be preceded by comment period of thirty (30) calendar days for managers and employees. The Professionals and Professional Faculty Assembly and Staff Assembly will be notified of any changes. 

The Provost  amended this Policy effective [______], 2018, to (i) provide for a uniform performance management policy for all employees (thus eliminating different policies for Operational employees and Professionals and Professional Faculty) and (ii) eliminate the requirement that the supervisor separately rate each of the university basic and supervisory competencies, and (iii) make various formatting and editorial changes. 

All Human Resources policies will be posted and maintained on the HR website.