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Conducting Mid-Year Reviews

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1 Conducting Mid-Year Reviews
HR Strategy & Accountability Division March 27 & 29, 2012

2 Agenda Performance Culture Overview Ongoing Feedback:
Improving Engagement Identifying Opportunities to Provide Informal Feedback Improving Employee Performance Through Effective Feedback Managing Poor Performers Mid-Year Reviews: Preparing For & Conducting Reviews Writing Performance Narratives Recognizing Bias Making Changes to a Plan & Documenting Reviews in EmpowHR 1 2 3 4

3 Performance Culture Overview
Performance Culture is the strategic initiative that grounds employee performance in NRCS goals and objectives and improves motivation, accountability, and overall engagement of the workforce. USDA Strategic Plan NRCS Strategic Plan (Put Conservation on the Ground) Performance Culture (Individual Performance; Recognition; Recruitment; Development; etc.) Results in… Increase Employee Intent to Stay Improve Employee Motivation Connect the Individual to NRCS and USDA (Increased discretionary effort) Enhance the Understanding of Individual Accountability Helping People Help the Land

4 Effects on Accountability
Performance Culture Overview (continued) Plan Monitor Develop Rate Reward Performance culture is the complete lifecycle of performance – from planning, monitoring, and developing to rating and rewarding. Feedback and recognition are components of each lifecycle phase and result in increased motivation and accountability. Phase Effects on Motivation Effects on Accountability Plan (employee performance plan) Connects individual goals and measures to organization objectives. Sets targets for success. Clearly defines goals and objectives, and how success will be measured. Monitor (ongoing - mid-year Review, etc.) Provides routine feedback and recognition related to performance. Routinely identifies areas of success and areas for improvement. Develop (ongoing) Clearly outlines employee development needs to meet the performance objectives. Outlines area for improvement and development and defines a clear path for success. Rate (performance appraisal) Formally documents performance against objectives. Formally tracks employee performance to performance plan. Reward (awards & recognition) Rewards and recognizes employees on successes. Rewards align to the levels of success determined in performance plans. Helping People Help the Land

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Improving Engagement Managers play the most important role in improving the engagement of employees – through direct one-on-one relationships with employees and as a conduit for reinforcing the organization’s strategic priorities, vision, and values. Outcomes of a highly engaged workforce: Employees who work 57% harder Employees who are 9 times less likely to leave “Engagement” is the extent to which employees commit to something and how hard they work and long they stay as a result of that commitment Rational Emotional Focuses through manager to: Discretionary effort (Performance) Intent to stay (Retention) Helping People Help the Land

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Improving Engagement (continued) Managers play the most important role in improving the engagement of employees – through direct one-on-one relationships with employees and as a conduit for reinforcing the organization’s strategic priorities, vision, and values. Drivers to improve engagement: Provide fair and accurate informal feedback Emphasize employee strengths in performance reviews Clarify performance expectations leverage employee “fit” to the job Provide solutions to day-to-day challenges Amplify positive employee performance traits & filter negative effects Connect employees with the organizations’ strategy & its success Instill a performance culture of open communication, flexibility, and innovation Connect employees with talented coworkers Demonstrate a credible commitment to employee development Manager imperatives: Focus on objectives over role definition Differentiate recognition rather than praise everyone Provide guidelines for innovation, not mandates Reinforce organizational values over empathy Helping People Help the Land

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Identifying Opportunities to Provide Informal Feedback Managers who are likely to provide feedback proactively can impact employees’ performance 16% more than managers whose employees must seek out informal feedback. To ensure your feedback is timely, each day, ask yourself: Positive Feedback Opportunities Development Feedback Opportunities Did any of my employees demonstrate improvement in a development area? Did my employees go out of their way to support their teammates or other colleagues? Did my employees demonstrate the organization’s values? Did any of my employees go above and beyond what I asked of them? Have I heard positive feedback from others about my direct reports? Did I see opportunities for improvement in my employees’ work? Did I see behaviors from my employees that reflect poorly on the team? Did any of my employees fail to meet my expectations for their performance? Are any of my employees struggling with a particular task or skill? Have I received constructive feedback from others about my direct reports? Helping People Help the Land

8 Improving Employee Performance Through Effective Feedback
Informal feedback is ongoing, in-the-moment development advice given by managers to employees outside of the formal performance review. Informal feedback that is fair and accurate can improve performance by up to 39%. Ensure the feedback you provide is: Specific Feedback should reference specific actions the employee took or specific pieces of their work. Timely Give feedback as soon as possible after the action or event. Proactive Provide feedback proactively, not just when employees request it. Objective Feedback should be based on facts, not beliefs, assumptions, or hearsay. Constructive Development feedback should be framed as an opportunity to improve performance rather than as a “weakness.” Relevant Feedback should help the employee do their job better and be within the employee’s power to improve. Helping People Help the Land

9 Providing Vague Feedback Over-Emphasizing Development Feedback
Improving Employee Performance Through Effective Feedback (continued) Informal feedback is ongoing, in-the-moment development advice given by managers to employees outside of the formal performance review. Informal feedback that is fair and accurate can improve performance by up to 39%. Avoid common mistakes: Providing Vague Feedback When feedback is specific and detailed, employees are more likely to repeat desired behaviors or stop incorrect behaviors. Example (Vague): “You’re doing a great job at being a team player.” Example (Detailed): “Thank you for volunteering to complete the project for Sandra while she was out sick last week. Your willingness to step up and help your colleagues when they need it makes you a great team player.” Making Assumptions Feedback should be limited to the employee’s behavior without making assumptions or interpreting the behavior as a sign of something else. Example (Making Assumptions): “I’ve noticed that you don’t like doing administrative work.” Example (Observing Behavior): “I’ve noticed that recently you haven’t been submitting your administrative paperwork on time.” Over-Emphasizing Development Feedback Feedback should be provided on strengths as well as development areas. Example (Focus on Development): John only provides feedback when he is correcting mistakes, adjusting behaviors, and addressing inefficiencies. Example (Balanced Feedback): Gary provides informal feedback on areas for improvement, but also provides feedback when he thinks his employees perform well, improve in a development area, or go above and beyond his expectations. Helping People Help the Land

10 Improving Employee Performance Through Effective Feedback (continued)
Informal feedback is ongoing, in-the-moment development advice given by managers to employees outside of the formal performance review. Informal feedback that is fair and accurate can improve performance by up to 39%. Involve the employee in the feedback process – ask for their input Request feedback from employee’s customers, coworkers, other managers Combine both positive & constructive feedback – start with something positive Positive: Be descriptive & objective Tell the employee why you liked it and why it is important (“You solved that database migration problem very quickly this morning. That really prevented disruptions to the systems’ operations.”) Constructive, describe: Situation (“This morning, at the meeting…”) Behavior (…you interrupted me several times…”) Impact (“…these interruptions confused the staff…”) Next steps (“..I’d like you to refrain from interrupting speakers…”)

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Managing Poor Performers Studies show that as many as one in six employees are underperforming, so it is critical for you to take an active role in managing poor performance among your direct reports; as a manager you can help improve employee performance up to 25%. 1. Identify poor performers on your team 2. Provide tailored support 3. Maintain consistent & accurate documentation Poor performers fail to perform their job at an acceptable level. These employees are not only less productive than their coworkers; they negatively affect their colleagues and the work environment, hampering productivity and lowering morale. Helping People Help the Land

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Managing Poor Performers (continued) As a manager, the first step in handling poor performers is to identify any underperformers on your team. Any misconduct should be addressed appropriately. Human Resources should be consulted for advice and guidance. An employee’s inability to perform duties adequately requires feedback, counseling, and support. Identify poor performers on your team Use the following indicators to quickly identify poor performance, and distinguish from misconduct: Poor Performance Misconduct Failure to Meet Position Standards Low Product Quality Low Volume of Productivity Absenteeism Disruptive or Argumentative Behavior Customer Service Complaints Helping People Help the Land

13 Manager’s Responsibilities Employee’s Responsibilities
Managing Poor Performers (continued) Managers should strive to give feedback as soon after the event as possible. Do not wait until the next scheduled check in or annual review to bring up any misconduct or underperformance. Delayed feedback may indicate that performance is not a high priority. After the initial conversation, schedule regular check ins to monitor improvement and map out next steps. Provide tailored support When an employee’s behavior indicates underperformance, you should identify areas of improvement and provide support for improvement through a performance counseling session. During this session you and your direct report should discuss the specifics of the situation, and you should be prepared to provide resources to resolve the problem, as highlighted below. Manager’s Responsibilities Employee’s Responsibilities Communicate expectations of the position Identify specific facts about the situation Develop a specific action plan to correct the situation Document counseling in writing Actively participate in counseling session Assist in developing action plan Prepare rebuttal session, if necessary Helping People Help the Land

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Managing Poor Performers (continued) Documentation of employee discipline is critical as it helps employees improve performance in the future and protects you and the agency from allegations of unfairness. As long as the employee has been on a performance plan for at least 90 calendar days, a supervisor can initiate a performance improvement plan (PIP) at any time that an employee’s performance is unsatisfactory. Any PIP should be provided during the rating cycle, prior to receipt of the rating of record. In addition to the PIP, it is important for the manager to create a written document of all poor performance discussions that are conducted with the employee. Maintain consistent & accurate documentation (example of a counseling session) Reason for formal counseling Required performance standards Actions to improve performance Development and trainings offered Period for improvement and review dates Consequences of continued underperformance Agreement of record with signatures Helping People Help the Land

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Managing Poor Performers (continued) After reviewing the basics of what should be covered in a performance counseling session and a PIP, here are some phrases to help initiate and guide what can be an uncomfortable discussion on an employee’s underperformance. Scripting to Guide Difficult Conversations I’ve seen [issue] occurring in the office, and I’m wondering if you agree that I’m seeing the real issue at hand. I want to help you succeed in the agency, and to succeed, [skill] is necessary. I would like to see you try [activity/action] with the team. I’m worried about this performance’s impact on the team’s result (e.g., timeline, morale, or project quality). What support did you receive when [situation] helped you do your task well? What was happening when [situation] made your job difficult? When I first joined this agency, I struggled with [challenge]. I found that [action/situation] really helped me. Do you think that would work well for you, or do you have any ideas about what might help this? When you contribute [contribution], it [result (e.g., allows coworkers to do their jobs better)]. The Basics Be Timely Provide Feedback Relevant to the Employee’s Job Role and Level Provide Time for the Employee to React Be Fair and Accurate Provide Job Focused Feedback Provide Specific and Targeted Feedback Helping People Help the Land

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Managing Poor Performers (continued) After reviewing the basics of what should be covered in a performance counseling session and a PIP, here are some phrases to help initiate and guide what can be an uncomfortable discussion on an employee’s underperformance. Avoid Common Mistakes Focusing on Weaknesses—Managers should frame skills not as weaknesses, but as obstacles the employee needs to overcome. Talking too Much—Managers should allow employees to respond or refute to the feedback they are providing. Providing Feedback in Front of Others—Managers should provide the feedback in a private, one-on-one setting. Providing Unrelated Feedback—Managers should not provide feedback if they do not have proper knowledge about the employee or the particular project the employee worked on. Focusing on Personality—Manager should not criticize the individual, and feedback should focus exclusively on performance, not the employee’s personality. Helping People Help the Land

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Preparing For & Conducting Reviews Employees report widespread dissatisfaction with their performance management programs. Managers often lack the confidence or knowledge required to deliver valuable feedback. If executed well, delivering performance review and focusing on the right type of feedback can impact employee performance by more than 25%. Schedule enough time to discuss the formal review and answer your direct report’s questions. All performance feedback should be conducted in a private, one-on-one setting without any interruptions. Schedule Sufficient Time in a Private Setting Rehearse the conversation for a meaningful discussion, particularly for delivering development feedback. In addition, rehearsing helps ensure that you are confident and professional throughout, and do not appear to be anxious. Rehearse the Conversation Prior to the Meeting Provide the Employee with Performance Review Documentation Offer a copy of the notes and online formal downward review to the employee and allow a few minutes to read the document before starting the conversation. Emphasis on strengths in formal reviews has the greatest potential impact (36%) on employee performance; consequently, managers should initiate the feedback with strengths, followed by development opportunities. Begin with Strengths and Then Discuss Development Areas Focus on the employee’s behaviors, not his/her personality, while delivering development feedback. Emphasizing weaknesses can actually damage performance by 27%. Focus Development Areas on Employee Behaviors, Not Personality Traits Helping People Help the Land

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Preparing For & Conducting Reviews (continued) Employees report widespread dissatisfaction with their performance management programs. Managers often lack the confidence or knowledge required to deliver valuable feedback. If executed well, delivering performance review and focusing on the right type of feedback can impact employee performance by more than 25%. Provide Examples to Substantiate the Review Validate your perspective with tangible examples. Focus on consistent behaviors and frequent incidents, rather than one-off examples of good or bad behavior. Accompany negative feedback with suggestions for doing the job better. Constructive comments on development and specific suggestions for improvement are clearly very valuable and have a potential impact of approximately 7% on performance. Provide Suggestions for Performance Improvement Maintain a structured flow during the conversation and cover one topic at a time to ensure clarity. Include a short introduction, and avoid using jargon/obscure words to describe strengths and development areas. Use Clear and Simple Words During the Discussion Give the employee a few minutes to reflect on the feedback once you have delivered the review, and ask for questions or thoughts. Solicit the Employee’s Questions or Comments End the discussion on a positive note with a summary of the performance review. Schedule follow-up meetings to build the individual development plan (IDP) and monitor progress. End on a Positive Note and Discuss Next Steps Helping People Help the Land

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Preparing For & Conducting Reviews (continued) Managers must focus on delivering valuable feedback in a way that employees understand and accept willingly. To minimize negative employee reactions, it is essential that managers are mindful of the language they use while delivering feedback. DO Use the term ‘development areas’ when providing negative feedback. Use positive, empathetic sentences, such as “You are professional and diligent with project management, but your communication style is a bit formal and leads to fragmented teamwork.” Be descriptive, for example, “Carrie, I thought the way you managed this was innovative and professional. I particularly liked the way you....“ Emphasize words of encouragement, for instance, “Overall, your analytical skills are improving steadily; moving forward I will provide you with more opportunities to develop this skill further.” Helping People Help the Land

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Preparing For & Conducting Reviews (continued) Managers must focus on delivering valuable feedback in a way that employees understand and accept willingly. To minimize negative employee reactions, it is essential that managers are mindful of the language they use while delivering feedback. DON’T Use the words ‘weaknesses‘ and ‘poor performance.’ Employ extreme words, such as ‘always’ and ‘never.’ Include labels, such as ‘irresponsible,’ 'careless,’ and ‘awful.’ Make value judgments, such as ‘best,’ ‘bad,’ ‘incompetent.’ Compare peers, for example, “You are better than John at process management.” Apologize after delivering negative feedback. Helping People Help the Land

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Preparing For & Conducting Reviews (continued) Steps for Preparing For Progress Reviews Review documentation you have about the employee’s performance Compare current performance with expectations Assess developmental opportunities Help the employee prepare for the meeting Steps for Conducting Progress Reviews Open the Meeting Discuss accomplishments and expectations Close the meeting Helping People Help the Land

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Writing Performance Narratives The supervisor must prepare a written narrative outlining the employee's accomplishments for each element. The narrative should… Include examples of performance where appropriate Be brief and specific, and use clear, concise statements or bullets Avoid adjectives and adverbs that are not objective, and avoid writing in third person Describe accomplishments with regard to quantity, quality, timeliness, and manner of performance or other measure of performance Use language that lay reviewers will understand versus highly technical language Avoid statements that describe your personal beliefs or philosophies; focus on specific challenges and results achieved *Documentation for Employees that are Not Meeting Standards Helping People Help the Land

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Writing Performance Narratives (continued) Narratives should address the breadth, scope, and/or impact of achievements, and can include items such as… • Innovation in approach and results obtained  • Flexibility, adaptability, and resourcefulness, despite the presence of obstacles  • Program efficiencies or other measurable improvements gained that promoted effectiveness and mission achievement  • Favorable feedback and evaluations from customers, stakeholders, and others, including staff  • Flexibility and adaptability in responding to changing priorities  • Initiation of significant collaborations, alliances, and coalitions  • Invitations to serve on or lead workgroups, consortiums, etc., or other indicators of stature and expertise  • Accolades and recognition received  • Other indicators demonstrating excellence in meeting agency strategic initiatives and individual management and program outcomes that contributed to the success of program goals. Helping People Help the Land

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Writing Performance Narratives: Fully Successful Demonstrates good, sound performance that meets organizational goals All critical activities are generally completed in a timely manner and supervisor is kept informed of work issues, alterations and status. Effectively applies technical skills and organizational knowledge to get the job done. Successfully carries out regular duties while also handling any difficult special assignments. Plans and performs work according to organizational priorities and schedules. Communicates clearly and effectively. Helping People Help the Land

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Writing Performance Narratives: Exceeds Fully Successful Demonstrates particularly excellent performance that is of such high quality that organizational goals have been achieved that would not have been otherwise. Demonstrates mastery of technical skills and a thorough understanding of the mission of the organization and has a fundamental impact on the completion of program objectives. Exerts a major positive influence on management practices, operating procedures and/or program implementation, which contributes substantially to organizational growth and recognition. Plans for the unexpected and uses alternate ways of reaching goals. Difficult assignments are handled intelligently and effectively. Has produced an exceptional quantity of work, often ahead of established schedules and with little supervision. Oral and written communications are exceptionally clear and effective. Improves cooperation among participants in the workplace and prevents misunderstandings. Complicated or controversial subjects are presented or explained effectively to a variety of audiences so that desired outcomes are achieved. Helping People Help the Land

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Writing Performance Narratives: Does Not Meet Fully Successful Performance is unsatisfactory. The quality and quantity of work are not adequate for the position. Work products do not meet the minimum requirements expected. Demonstrates little or no contribution to organizational goals; Failure to meet work objectives; Inattention to organizational priorities and administrative requirements Poor work habits resulting in missed deadlines and/or incomplete work products; Strained work relationships Failure to respond to client needs Lack of response to supervisor’s corrective efforts. Helping People Help the Land

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Recognizing Bias Bias occurs when you allow your personal opinion of the employee to influence your decisions. Try to identify the cause or root of the bias and then address it. Common types of bias can be grouped into three broad categories - Bias based on judgment of performance, Bias based on personal preference or style, Bias based on time factors. Judgment of Performance Halo Effect (overrating in all because outstanding in one) Horns Effect (underrating in all because struggling in one) Contrast Effect (comparing to others) Central Tendency Error (treating all the same) Negative & Positive Skew (assessing too high/low) Interpretation (opinion, not fact-based) Personal Preference or Style First Impression Error (first impression distorts everything that follows) Similar-to-me Effect (liking those who are like you) Attribution Bias (failures are theirs; successes are someone else’s) Stereotyping (generalizing across groups) Time Factors Quick & Dirty Effect (assessing all the same to “get it over with”) Recently Effect (most recent performance distorts everything before) Time Delay (forgetting details) Helping People Help the Land

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Making Changes to a Plan in EmpowHR If possible, any changes to a performance plan should be made before the Progress Review is entered. Supervisor initiates Manager Self Service – Performance - Performance Plan – Existing – (find & select plan) Elements and Standards Enter changes Save The EmpowHR workflow process does not invoke if the plan has already been concurred with by the Reviewer Supervisor will need to advise employee to look at plan again Can do any number of changes to Plan Helping People Help the Land

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Documenting Reviews in EmpowHR A current performance plan must have been created by the Rating Official (supervisor) & concurred with by the Reviewing Official before a Progress Review can be done. Supervisor initiates Progress Review – New Review – (find & select plan) – Add Enter Reviewer comments Save Employee gets Progress Review – Review Period Enter Employee comments Viewed/Discussed or Refused If employee made comments, Supervisor get Can do any number of Progress Reviews Reviewing Official not involved Helping People Help the Land

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Position Changes During the Year The objective is to capture the most complete picture possible of the employee’s performance over the entire year. When an employee changes position mid-year “Old” supervisor does an Interim Appraisal (a rating) & provides this to the “new” supervisor This fulfills the need for a formal Mid-Year Review by either the “old” or the “new” supervisor At end of year, “new” supervisor prepares Rating of Record, which is based on current performance plan but which covers the full year & takes into account all performance documentation available for the full year (including the “old” supervisor’s” Interim Appraisal) Helping People Help the Land

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Resources Available OPM Performance website: NRCS People Share Point site: https://nrcs.sc.egov.usda.gov/multi/nrcspeople/Performance%20Management/Forms/AllItems.aspx?View=%7b206C40FF%2d9076%2d4AFA%2dA8B9%2d02EF2F4314E5%7d AgLearn – “USDA NRCS Giving and Receiving Feedback”, etc. Be creative … Helping People Help the Land

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Key Takeaways Understand the importance of performance management Understand the importance of feedback, both formal & informal (improves engagement) Manage poor performers Prepare properly for formal performance reviews Prepare properly when writing performance narratives Helping People Help the Land

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Closing Questions? Comments? Concerns? Helping People Help the Land

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THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME! Helping People Help the Land


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