By SUSAN JONES
After a slight delay because of the pandemic, Human Resources is rolling out a new staff performance appraisal form that will be available for supervisors to use in spring 2022.
The new form grew out of discussions during the Shaping the Workplace initiative. HR made one of its primary goals to improve performance evaluations, which included making sure all staff get a review annually and making the forms shorter, less confusing and consistent across units.
At a seminar for supervisors about the new forms on Sept. 28, Kelly Hardon, consultant and program manager for HR, said that last fiscal year (2020-21), more than 95 percent of staff received a performance review. Now the other part of the goal — updating the forms — is coming to fruition.
The biggest changes on the forms are:
A new diversity, equity and inclusion standard
Fewer standards: Five instead of nine for staff and six instead of 12 for supervisors. Hardon said, “We have not really done away with any of the competencies and behaviors that were included always, we’ve really just condensed the language to make it easier.”
One rating for each performance standard instead of multiple. “In the past, there were several factors that had to be rated within each performance standard, and as you can imagine and I’m sure some of you have experienced, especially with supervisory reviews in the past, to rate multiple factors for 12 different standards was really cumbersome.”
Four ratings instead of five: Unsatisfactory, Development Needed, Successful and Above Expectations.
Elimination of the overall standard. “The feedback we received from staff engagement sessions was that this was being used as a short cut, without considering the real accomplishments or development opportunities of the employee,” Hardon said.
The standards for employees are now:
Quality of Work
Interpersonal Communication/Service Orientation
Problem Solving/Decision Making
Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Leading Others (for supervisors only), which also includes a section on recruiting diverse candidates and maintaining knowledge of all laws prohibiting harassment, discrimination and retaliation. All these laws are now listed on the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’s website.
Most of the questions at the supervisor seminar were about the new diversity standard. This standard includes items such as supporting a workplace culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion as essential to the University community; utilizing inclusive methods for communications; and participating in University-sponsored opportunities to enhance cultural competency.
There are several ways to learn about cultural competency on campus, including the Diversity and Inclusion and Global Competence certificate programs through the Faculty and Staff Development Program that supervisors can encourage their teams to participate in.
One participant asked, “how to respond to staff who think that this new standard is kind of telling them that they’ve been bad at diversity and inclusion and now they need to prove themselves in another way?”
“The successful rating is really just behaving in a respectable way that reflects Pitt’s values,” Hardon said. “Unless someone’s been doing something intentionally disrespectful. I think the assumption is that our community does embrace this value. … This is really a tool to encourage those employees who would like to enhance their knowledge and skills around this area.”
Yvonne Power, HR’s director of employee and labor relations, said she thinks of the new standard “like new technology. When we have new technology, we want to learn it, we want to embrace it. This is an opportunity for employees and supervisors and all of the University of Pittsburgh to become more inclusive, and to … build on what we’ve been doing in the past.”
The new forms are available now under Resources for Managers on the HR website (Pitt Passport needed). Supervisors are encouraged to share the form with their employees now, so they’re aware of any new performance expectations.
While units aren’t required to use the new HR form, it is strongly encouraged.
“We provide these tools because we think that they align best with the University’s goals and values,” Hardon said. “But departments can use their own form if they’d like as long as they are in compliance with University’s annual performance appraisal policy.”
Hardon said she hopes everyone finds the forms easier to use and “relevant to Pitt’s values.” They also welcome any feedback once supervisors have used the forms in spring 2022.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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