Performance Reviews

The performance review is a communication tool designed to support each individual's contribution to the University. The review provides a way to measure skills and accomplishments with reasonable accuracy and uniformity. It provides a way to help identify obstacles to top performance. It should help identify areas for professional growth. It should not, however, be considered the supervisor's only communication tool. Open lines of communication throughout the year help to make effective working relationships.

Each employee is entitled to a thoughtful and careful review. The success of a performance review depends on the supervisor's willingness to complete a constructive and objective assessment, and on the employee's willingness to respond to constructive criticism and to work with the supervisor to overcome performance barriers.

This performance review is composed of two forms, the Annual Employee Performance Review Form(pdf)(docx) (completed by the direct supervisor), and the Annual Self Review Form(pdf)/ (docx) (completed by the employee). Both forms can be found in the Forms section of the Human Resource Services web site. While the employee is not required to complete the self- review, the review process can be enriched with full participation.

The supervisor and employee meet together to discuss the completed forms, and to agree upon goals/ performance objectives for the next review cycle. The employee and supervisor must sign the Annual Employee Performance Review form to indicate the review has been discussed and that the employee has received a copy of the form. Signing the review form does not mean that the employee agrees with the review; it only means the supervisor has discussed the review with the employee. The employee receives a copy, a copy is retained by the department, and the original is sent to Human Resource Services (HRS). The performance review becomes a part of the employee's permanent record. The Annual Self-Review Form may become part of the employee's record if the employee wishes.

If you have questions about the Performance Review Process, please contact your Business Manager, Dean's Office, or Labor & Employee Relations (LER) Professional for assistance.

What is the Purpose of a Performance Review?

The performance review is an opportunity for employees and those who supervise them to review the performance of the past year, give and receive feedback, clarify job duties and expectations, and set goals for the coming year. When the process works well, both parties plan together to build on strengths as well as develop areas needing improvement.

This performance review is a communication tool designed to support each individual's contribution to the University. It provides a way to recognize good performance as well as to help identify obstacles toward attaining top performance. It will also help identify areas that need improvement and professional growth opportunities. It is important to review and document competencies, skills, accomplishments, and goals with reasonable accuracy and consistency. Supervisors should use the comments/evidence sections on the review form in order to provide examples of the employee’s performance and illustrate performance ratings. 

A performance review should be a discussion of an employee's performance of assigned goals, duties and responsibilities. The review is based on results obtained by the employee in their job, not on the employee's personality characteristics.

When are Performance Reviews Completed?

Supervisors complete a performance review for each employee at least once a year. Typically, reviews should be completed before April for budget planning purposes, however, they may be completed at other times. Supervisors are encouraged to provide employees with regular performance feedback (ex. weekly/monthly one on one meetings, project update meetings, etc). Examples of other times a review may be used is in evaluating an employee’s performance upon the completion of a probationary period or when there is evidence of performance deficiencies.

Supervisors are encouraged to maintain open lines of communication throughout the year to cultivate effective working relationships. Employees should receive regular and timely feedback in order to develop required knowledge and skills for their position and to be encouraged to excel in their roles at the University of Vermont.

The Performance Review Process should include the following steps:

1. Pre-Review Meeting

The supervisor and employee should meet to discuss the review process and criteria. The supervisor and employee should complete their reviews separately. In most cases it is best to allow at least five working days for this process.

2. Examine Past Year’s Performance Review Document and Goals.

To properly complete the performance review form, it is essential that the supervisor and employee thoroughly understand the duties and requirements of the position held by the employee. Therefore, both should review the Position Description (PD).

If the supervisor does not have a current copy of the employee’s PD, one may be obtained from the appropriate HR Representative. If there are inaccuracies or the PD needs to be updated, the appropriate HR Representative will work with the supervisor to get the PD current; if the PD is updated, be sure to communicate changes to the employee and provide them with a copy.

The review will refer to the employee’s goals/objectives for the previous year’s review. Therefore, the supervisor and employee should review the established goals and previous performance.

3. Employee Completes Annual Self-Review Form

The Annual Self-Review provides the employee with the opportunity to consider job performance with fresh insight. Before completing the Annual Self-Review Form, the employee should read through it to become familiar with the scope and nature of the document. If the employee has any questions regarding the form, he/she/they can contact a supervisor for clarification.

Completing the Annual Employee Self-Review:

  1. Section 1 should be completed after the employee has reviewed the current position description. This section provides an opportunity for the employee to address specific topics that may or may not appear in other sections of the review and allows the supervisor insight into what the employee would like to discuss during the review meeting.
  2. The employee should review Criteria for Determining Level of Performance prior to filling out Sections 2 or 3 of the form.
  3. Section 2 asks the employee to determine level of performance for all Core Competencies. Employees are encouraged to complete the comments section for each competency in order to provide examples for rated levels of performance indicated.
  4. If the employee supervises others, he/she/they should complete Section 3 by determining level of performance for all Additional Supervisor Competencies. Again, employees are encouraged to complete the comments section for each competency in order to provide examples for rated levels of performance indicated. (This is not applicable for those who have functional supervisory responsibilities.)
  5. The employee should complete Section 4 by noting progress towards documented performance goals/objectives established for the review period. The employee should explain whether any goals/objectives were modified due to department operations, changed priorities, or challenges.
  6. The employee completes Section 5 by considering overall performance during the review period.
  7. In Section 6 the employee drafts goals and objectives. The employee will discuss and confirm goals with the supervisor during the review meeting. The goals on the Annual Self-Review Form are drafted in preparation of discussion during the Review Meeting and are not the finalized goals for the next review period.
  8. The employee completes Section 7 by signing the form and submitting to their direct supervisor for review in advance of scheduled performance meeting (see section 5).

4. Supervisor Completes Annual Employee Performance Review Form

The employee's immediate supervisor completes the Annual Employee Performance Review Form. The immediate supervisor assigns and directs the employee's work, checks work for proper methods and results, is responsible for correction of performance problems, and is immediately responsible for the work of the employee. 

After reviewing the Position Description and goals, complete the review form, keeping in mind the following:

Completing the Annual Employee Performance Review Form:

  1. Review employee’s current position description (PD), previous review document, and completed Annual Self- Review Form (sign once reviewed).
  2. Review Criteria for Determining Level of Performance.
  3. Complete Section 1 by determining the employee’s level of performance for all Core Competencies. Supervisors are encouraged to complete the comments section for each competency in order to provide examples for rated levels of performance indicated.
  4. If the employee under review supervises others complete Section 2 by determining the employee’s level of performance for all Additional Supervisor Competencies. Again, supervisors are encouraged to complete the comments section for each competency in order to provide examples for rated levels of performance indicated. (This is not applicable for those who have functional supervisory responsibilities.)
  5. Complete Section 3 by selecting the top 2-4 essential functions for the position. Essential Functions are drawn from the position description. Determine the employee’s level of performance for each Essential Function.
  6. Complete Section 4 by noting the employee’s progress toward documented performance goals/objectives established for the review period. Explain whether any goals/objectives were modified due to department operations, changed priorities, or challenges face by the employee. Also, note the extent to which the person has accomplished the goals, and particular achievements in relation to each goal as well as consider areas for growth.
  7. Complete Section 5 by considering the employee’s overall performance during the review period.
  8. If a supervisor establishes that an employee’s performance in one or more core competencies or essential functions is unsatisfactory they must complete a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). At the supervisor’s discretion, they may complete a PIP for area(s) that needs improvement.
  9. To complete Section 7 the supervisor should consider future goals that may be accomplished in the next review period. Describe what the objective would be, consider resources/support that might be required and the indicator(s) of successful completion. The goals, objectives and resources should be discussed and finalized with the employee during the review meeting. The supervisor should have goals drafted but may updated them based on employee input.
  10. Section 6 (Employee Comments) and Section 8 (Signed Acknowledgement) should be completed during or following the Performance Review meeting.

5. Schedule the Performance Review Meeting

Once all forms have been completed and the employee has provided the supervisor with a copy of the Annual Self-Review Form, a formal review meeting should be scheduled. Timing should allow sufficient time for preparation and occur when neither party is under great pressure.

Supervisors should ask employees to brainstorm and be prepared to discuss performance goals/objectives for the next review period. The review meeting will be scheduled in advance of the completion of Sections 6 – 8 of the Annual Employee Performance Review Form.

6. Conduct Performance Review Meeting

The supervisor and employee meet to discuss the completed forms, and to agree upon goals/performance objectives for the next review period.  Review each section of the Annual Employee Performance Review Form, and discuss similarities and differences between the Annual Self- Review and Annual Employee Performance Review Form.

The discussion of the completed review form is the most important part of the process. Make sure there is adequate time for the meeting and that it is considered a priority. This is meant to be a constructive and cooperative process of two-way communication with primary emphasis on development and growth. To help create such a tone and setting, consider these suggestions:

7. Discuss & Finalize Performance Goals – Section 7

Both the supervisor and employee should come to the review meeting prepared with a few possible goals/objectives for the next review period. Discuss and confirm goals and objectives. The goals and objectives should include both departmental/units goal and plans for personal and professional development. Each goal/objective should include a time frame which, indicates when the goal should be for completion and supervisors should outline resources needed to attain goals such as funding and/or training needed. Information about how it will be known/determined that each goal has been included should also be documented.

8. Supervisor May Include Additional Comments - Section 6

In this section the supervisor may include any additional comments not previously addressed within the performance review.

9. Sign Annual Review Form – Section 8

The employee and supervisor must sign the form to indicate the review has been discussed and that the employee has received a copy of the form. Signing the review form does not mean that the employee agrees with the review; it only means that the supervisor has discussed the review with the employee. The employee receives a copy, a copy is retained by the department, and the original is sent to Human Resource Services (HRS). The performance review becomes a part of the employee's permanent record. The Self-Review Form may become part of the employee's record if the employee wishes.

If the employee refuses to sign the appraisal, the supervisor should state in the signature portion of the form the circumstances associated with the employee's refusal to sign and then forward the form to HRS.

In rare cases, a supervisor may prefer not to have a copy of the review included in the employee's central personnel file. In that case, the supervisor should send a letter to Human Resource Services to explain the situation. The letter must contain a statement signed by the employee that indicates the agreement. A copy of this letter will be put in the employee's file. If the employee later terminates employment with the University, the original review should be sent to HRS or destroyed.

Questions & Additional Information

Performance Improvement Plan Process

Performance Improvement Plan Form

Annual Employee Self-Review Form

Annual Employee Performance Review Form

If you would like additional information about the Performance Review Process contact your assigned HR Rep, Business Manager, or Labor & Employee Relations (LER) Professional, email the Human Resource Service Information Center or call 656-3150.