Pay for Performance

Well-defined goals, established through open communication, set the stage for celebration!


The following information is an update effective April 11, 2017 regarding the 2017 Pay for Performance (P4P) Program. This merit-based approach is a result of recommendations and analysis from Systemwide Human Resources and Compensation, as well as, feedback received from staff in the most recent Engagement Survey. These revealed staff’s desire to differentiate pay based on performance and receive more recognition for personal contributions. With proper distribution of performance ratings, managers can differentiate merit awards and appropriately recognize the strongest contributors.

To support this effort, “Focus on Performance” training has been scheduled soon to help supervisors complete performance appraisals, engage staff with effective goals and regular feedback. Results are summarized from the recent P4P survey that helped revise the appraisal ratings.  An online performance appraisal form is in development to replace the existing forms.

Report on the P4P survey results

The P4P survey was sent to 1,481 staff and managers on February 27, 2017.  We received 497 responses (34% response rate).  Extensive comments about the ratings and about many other aspects of the P4P program were provided.

Survey Rating Results

  • 60% favored 5 point scale. Comments indicated that this preference:

    • Allows for better differentiation and is more specific

    • Is more nuanced, with less room for ambiguity

    • Is more motivational

  • 34% favored 3 point scale. Comments indicated that this preference:

    • Is simpler

    • Is easier

    • Is more fair

    • Breaks the current uneven rating dynamic

  • 6% indicated no preference

Salient survey comments summarized

  • The three percent Pay for Performance program will have difficulty motivating staff regardless of the rating scale used

  • The uneven use of ratings across campus is a fundamental problem

  • Training of managers and supervisors is needed


Workgroup Analysis and Conclusions

The uneven use of ratings results from poorly defined levels of expectation, lack of regular feedback and different management standards. Robust training is the most effective current solution to defining goals and expectations and promoting regular feedback. Clear definitions of ratings will help provide clarity, but will not change the root causes of uneven ratings. Forced calibration of ratings would increase fairness, but might temporarily affect morale. Campus managers are not interested in forcing calibration at this time and there is not a campus consensus to require supervisors to attend training.



  • Adopt the five point scale rating scale with clear rating definitions

  • Provide instructions and training for supporting ratings with appraisal language

  • Campaign to achieve broad participation in training of managers and supervisors

  • Build a goal setting and progress tool as companion to the performance appraisal form


Rating Scale

5 = Exceptional

4 = Consistently exceeded expectations

3 = Met expectations

2 = Improvement Needed

1 = Unacceptable


Rating Definitions


  • Surpassed all goals (Including stretch goals)

  • Performance far exceeded expectations in all key areas of responsibility with exceptionally high quality of work and exceptional or unique contributions to organizational objectives

  • Behavior consistently exemplified the highest values of the organization

  • This rating is not given frequently (approx. top 10% across campus)


Consistently Exceeded Expectations

  • Generally exceeded goals. (Essential and any stretch goals)

  • Performance consistently exceeded expectations in key areas of responsibility, and the quality of work was generally excellent

  • Exhibited model behavior that reflected the values of the organization


Met Expectations

  • Met essential goals.

  • Performance consistently met expectations in key areas of responsibility; at times may exceed expectations. The overall quality of work was good

  • Is dependable, highly reliable, follows through on assignments

  • Exhibited behavior consistent with the values of the organization


Improvement Needed

  • Did not consistently meet essential goals

  • Performance did not consistently meet job requirements

  • Behavior may not consistently reflect the essential organizational values

  • This performance rating would typically follow on-going counselling and coaching for improvement.

  • Repeated overall annual ratings of “Needs Improvement” should not be tolerated. Aside from counselling and coaching, progressive discipline may be used for performance improvement. A plan to improve performance must follow and include clear expectations, deadlines, and formally scheduled one-on-one reviews for measuring the expected improvements



  • Failed to meet essential goals

  • Performance egregiously failed to meet expectations

  • Lack of improvement would likely be previously documented through progressive discipline

  • Behavior may be contrary to essential organizational values

  • Repeated overall annual ratings of “Unacceptable” should not be tolerated. Improvement is essential for continued employment. Progressive discipline is likely being  used for performance improvement. A plan to improve performance must follow and include clear expectations, deadlines, and formally scheduled one-on-one reviews for measuring the expected improvements

See Also