Performance Appraisal Guide


The Performance Appraisal is a formal management tool used to evaluate the work performance of employees. The Performance Appraisal is a carefully structured system of appraisal that monitors the work performance naturally, formally, informally and not based on personal wishes and perceptions, but on objective facts and reasons. The goal of this structured appraisal system is to help eliminate serious motivational, ethical and legal problems in the workplace.


These guidelines are intended for staff and administrative employees of Lincoln University. Its purpose is to assist in meeting requirements concerning the University's Performance Appraisal Record. A reluctance to act or recommend action sometimes results from uncertainly about procedural requirements. The University's Performance Appraisal Guide provides structure and guidance to develop confidence in and improve the ability of supervisors to support their recommendations/decisions or administrative proceedings.

Compliance with the procedures and preparation of performance management and professional development for employees are important elements of the University's performance appraisal process. They provide planned, scheduled opportunities to discuss each employee's accomplishments and development needs.


The primary objectives of the Performance Appraisal are to:

• Provide a uniform system for reviewing current job duties, setting job related performance expectations, measuring      
  performance results and identifying individual development needs to sustain or improve performance;

• Provide objective, job related information to be considered in making employee related decisions about compensation,   promotions, transfers, staff reductions, demotions or dismissals;

• Encourage communications between supervisors and employees that focus on improving performance, establishing         agreed upon job tasks and responsibilities, and planning for training and advancement;


The program is applicable to all administrative and staff employees of the University. It is not applicable to the University's faculty members.


The underlying objective of the employee performance appraisal is to improve the quality and quantity of an employee's job performance and thereby increase productivity and efficiency ... doing things right. The overall result is to increase organizational effectiveness ... doing the right things.

This includes:

• Ensuring a mutual understanding of job responsibilities and work assignments;

• Setting clear performance expectations for the next performance period;

• Providing a reference point for ongoing monitoring of progress during the performance period;

• Serving as a focal point to discuss performance results and any areas needing improvement at the end of the
   performance period;

• Identifying development needs and opportunities;

• Determine potential for advancement for greater responsibilities;

Supervision ensures that formal performance appraisal will provide no surprises. Where communication is good and the employee is reasonably experienced, performance appraisal is a mere formality, putting on paper something about which both participants already understand and agree. Where job content is changing, a new employee is learning a job or performance problems are encountered, performance appraisal will be both more difficult and more important.

Performance appraisal is a way to satisfy employees' needs to be informed about how well they are performing their job, how much they are contributing to the University's goals and what can be done to advance their career objectives/interests.

For employees, the performance appraisal is intended to:

• Help employees better understand their job responsibilities and requirements;

• Measure employees level of performance;

• Identify opportunities for employees to improve and be promoted;

• Help employees develop career goals;

For supervisors, the formal performance appraisal should:

• Allow supervisors explain their performance expectations to their employees;

• Provide opportunities for supervisors to establish and evaluate employees' work objectives;

• Help supervisors understand employees' personal aspirations and goals;

• Provide time to design specific plans for performance improvements or career advancements;

For the University, the formal performance appraisal is designed to:

• Improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the University’s operations;

• Support personnel actions, such as promotions, transfers and terminations;

• Provide information to design specific plans for performance improvements or career advancements;


The program's fundamental design is based on the premise that when a person clearly understands what he/she is suppose to do, the person is better able to do it successfully. To have employees meet performance expectations, supervisors must:

• Inform employees on what is to be done, how it will be measured and what results will represent "success";

• Determine how well they have completed each objective;

• Reward or correct accordingly;

The Performance Appraisal program requires:

• Supervisors to looks at each employee's job, identifies its major duties and responsibilities and use
  these as a basis for setting work-related performance expectations (at least 5-7 major expectations

• Supervisors to develop specific, measurable and objective expectations against which performance
  results can be measured;

• Supervisors to inform employees of performance expectations at the beginning of the performance

• Supervisors monitor employees' progress toward performance expectations throughout the
   performance period and to assist/coach employees as necessary to keep the employee "on track"
   (review at least quarterly);

• Supervisors to measure employees' performance results against expectations at the end of the rating

• Supervisors to prepare for and discuss with employees expectations for the next performance
   appraisal year;

• Supervisors and employees engage in a discussion about performance results at the end of each
   performance period and identify performance expectations for the next performance period;

The approach described above will provide direct benefits in that it promotes improved understanding and communication between supervisors and employees. The requirement to describe performance expectations up front makes ongoing performance centered dialogue between supervisors and employees a "must do" situation. Realistic and measurable performance expectations assist both supervisors and employees in assessing the quality and quantity of job performance because they provide a standard against which results can be measured and success identified.

• Benefits of the program include:

 Better job definition: The performance appraisal process will result in a better definition and understanding about the job responsibilities of individuals throughout the University. Employees and supervisors will have a clearer mutual understanding about job content and similar expectations about results;

 Greater initiative and self direction: When performance expectations are clearly defined and expressed, employees can better manage themselves. There is less time needed for detailed supervision and review, more time is available to supervisors for planning, goal setting and more effective leadership;

 Greater consistency among raters: Written performance expectations that are developed at the beginning of a performance period provide higher-level management with an opportunity to better understand what first line supervisors expect of their employees and what constitutes the basis of the appraisal. This provides an opportunity to achieve greater consistency in expectations and results in performance appraisals throughout the University;

 Improved documentation: Supervisors must properly document what are sound human resource management decisions. One of the key elements in improving organizational effectiveness and efficiency is management's willingness to take prompt and decisive action when such action is clearly in the best interest of the University;

A reluctance to act or recommend action sometimes results from a supervisor's uncertainly about procedural requirements. The University's performance appraisal process provides structure and guidance to develop confidence in and improve the ability of supervisors to support their recommendations/decisions in legal or administrative proceedings.


The University's Performance Appraisal and Development Program has the following components. A summary of the activities involved under each component is shown below:

• Evaluation of Essential Job Functions
  Essential job functions evaluation is a major component/element of an employee's work that is
  particularly important to success or failure in the employee's position. Identifying these key job
  responsibilities simply breaks the work into manageable pieces that can be evaluated separately.

  The first step in identifying key job responsibilities is to review all the work-related things an employee
  does. An up to date, accurate and complete job description and/or position analysis questionnaire is a
  good place to start. The following characteristics of key job responsibilities will assist in the job
  responsibility identification and selection:

 The job responsibilities are sufficiently important to the position and the University and holds
    the employee accountable for the job responsibilities;

 A list of key job responsibilities will cover all important aspects of the job;

 Performance of a key job responsibility must be observable against the intended result;

 All key job responsibilities on which an employee is appraised must be important to job
   success, but all key job responsibilities need not be of equal importance;

• Performance Factors
  This section indicates what performance factors (for either management or staff employees) have  
   been selected and what criteria will be used to measure success ... what may influence the extent to
   which performance expectations are achieved;

• Special Accomplishments
  This section provides an opportunity for both supervisors and employees to list what they consider to
e planned or unplanned significant contributions made during the performance period;

• Evaluation of Goals and Objectives
  This gives an opportunity to review goals and objectives for this review period, evaluate results
  achieved, and identify goals to be met within the next review period.

• Professional Development Review
  A listing of any training programs, conferences or courses attended throughout the year for
  professional development. Also, possible training opportunities to improve the employee’s skill set.

• Summary Comments
  This is a summary of the overall performance including strengths and areas of improvement.

• Overall Performance Rating
  Greater consistency among raters can be achieved if all University supervisors use the same
  definitions of performance ratings when making performance reviews. To assist in obtaining this|
  consistency, the five performance rating definitions are described below:

Outstanding - Performance at this level far exceeds expectations. It represents a level of performance that is rare and unusual. In determining what is rare and unusual, it is important to rely on actual experience. If the rater has not had enough firsthand experience to make this determination, the reviewer should provide assistance. An appraisal at this level requires thorough documentation on the Performance Appraisal and Development Record, and remarks in Performance Summary by rater and reviewer.

Commendable - This is "very good" performance that exceeds expectations, but not to the extent that it would be considered rare and unusual. Performance at this level makes a positive difference to the University in a way that is important, understood, and accepted by the supervisor, the employee and, where applicable, coworkers.

 Proficient - this is "good" performance on the level expected of a trained, experienced, successful employee.

(Special Note: Supervisors sometimes face resistance when rating employees at a level that can be considered "just average". This can result in a tendency to rate the trained, experienced employee at a higher level. This "creep" toward higher evaluations eventually limits the supervisor's ability to recognize highly successful and outstanding performers.)

Marginal - Performance falls somewhat short of what is expected of a trained, experienced employee. Improvement is normally expected for trainees or less experienced employees. It indicated that need for continued progress to improve to the successful level within a reasonable period of time. For trained employees, performance at this level can only be considered 'fair" or marginal. In either case, performance cannot continue at this level indefinitely. If improvement to the successful level is not demonstrated, performance at this level will at some point be considered unsatisfactory.

 Deficient - Performance at this level fails to meet the requirements of the position. Sustained performance at this level adversely affects the department's ability to accomplish its purpose. A summary appraisal made at this level requires action by the employee or management. If well documented reasons to expect immediate, substantial and sustained improvement does not exist, the employee should be considered, through established administrative procedures, for removal from the position.  

         Performance that results in an appraisal at this level must be well documented on the  Performance Appraisal and
         an established  Development Record.  Supporting comments must be entered by the rater and reviewer in the
         Performance Summary.

• Reviews and Approvals
  This section asks for the employee's acknowledgement/comments, signature and approvals of the rater and
  designated reviewer.

Please contact Human Resources if you have any questions about the information in this booklet.