Review Your Performance Management System
Ensure your independent school spends sufficient time managing employee performance. Terminating unprepared staff or faculty can result in claims.
The small close-knit community at many schools often lends itself to relaxed or even poor performance management practices. Effective and active management of employee performance promotes employee success and retention that benefits your school.
Understand Performance Management
Performance management — the ongoing communication between a supervisor and employee to advance the organization’s strategic objectives — is the responsibility of every supervisor, not the Human Resources (HR) department.
For good performance management, don’t limit feedback to annual reviews. Provide feedback on a timely and responsive basis during weekly or monthly check-ins.
Improve Your Feedback Process
Performance management systems should give employees clear, constructive, meaningful, productive, and realistic feedback. The best feedback is well-documented and allows for follow up by the employee and supervisor.
Before your school can improve its process, review and evaluate whether is it:
- Formal or informal? A formal evaluation system should be in place, though this doesn’t mean supervisors should forego informal feedback as needed.
- Used by all supervisors? All supervisors should participate in your school’s performance management system.
- Merely looking at past performance, or also addressing future goals? Supervisors should provide feedback on actual performance as well as reminders and encouragement on future goals.
- Providing support and identifying training needs? Effective performance management systems provide support through honest feedback, including positive reenforcement, to help employees to achieve their goals. Your school should identify, and then provide, necessary training to enable employees to grow in their positions.
- Centralized, or are supervisors allowed to manage as they see fit? Your HR department is best positioned to provide supervisors a framework and support for managing employee goals.
- Allowing supervisors to document feedback and coaching suggestions in a formalized way? If your school doesn’t already use a centralized repository for documenting supervisor feedback, consider adopting one.
Address Key Issues When Revising
As you revise your employee performance management system, also:
- Examine the system’s purpose. Is it merely to document performance in anticipation of the annual review, or is it to provide periodic, incremental opportunities for improvement? Each school has different reasons for adopting or revising a system; align those reasons with your work culture.
- Determine whether everyone is expected to use the system, and how that expectation will be enforced. Be prepared to hold supervisors accountable in their own reviews if they don’t consistently use the implemented system.
- Identify necessary training to ensure changes are understood and adopted. To better help employees, determine whether supervisors need to enhance their own skills. Consider holding training sessions after implementing or changing your school’s system. If supervisors aren’t adept at providing regular feedback, make training available so they can become more effective.
- Update employment policies or handbooks (as needed) to reflect changes to the system. Employment handbooks should align with changes made to how and how often employees will be evaluated and should expect feedback.
About the Author
Heather Salko, Esq.
Manager of Risk Research
Heather oversees the development of risk research publications. Her areas of expertise include employment law, Title IX, and student mental health. Before joining the Risk Research team, she practiced employment and insurance coverage law and handled UE liability claims for more than a decade.