PERSONNEL REGULATIONS AND REFERENCES OF SANTA CRUZ COUNTY
SUPERVISOR'S GUIDE FOR EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AND DEVELOPMENT
Managing employee performance is one of the most critical and difficult responsibilities of supervisors and managers. The day-to-day performance of your subordinates impacts on the overall effectiveness of your department. You, the supervisor, are the key link to improving the bottom-line productivity of your department.
Effectively appraising performance is the number one problem of most supervisors. This guide has been developed to help you conduct performance appraisals which more accurately evaluate job performance, provide construction feedback for improving performance and provide a basis for open and productive communication.
II. REPORTING PROCESS
Your department is responsible for insuring that an Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Report is prepared for each employee in the department as prescribed in Civil Service Rules, Section X.
WHO PREPARES THE REPORT: Responsibility for the timely and proper completion of the performance evaluation lies with you as the employee's immediate supervisor. You are responsible for filling out the report accurately and objectively based on your observation and/or knowledge of the employee's performance related to the standards of the job.
WHO REVIEWS THE REPORT: The reviewing officer, designated by your department head, is responsible for reviewing the completed report to assure that your appraisal is objective, accurate and consistent with performance standards set for the department. Any disagreement between you as the rating supervisor and the reviewing officer should be resolved by a conference. If changes are agreed upon, a new report should be made. In some departments, the reviewing officer and the department head will be the same person.
WHO RECEIVES THE REPORT: After you have discussed the evaluation report with the employee and all signatures (rating supervisor, employee, and reviewing officer) are complete, the reviewing officer insures that the employee receives a copy of the report and that a copy is retained for the department. The original copy of the completed report and associated turnaround documents should be forwarded to the Personnel Department prior to the end of the appraisal rating period. The evaluation and associated paper work affecting a pay increase should be forwarded by the operating department to the Personnel Department prior to 5:00 p.m. Monday of the second week of the pay period in which the step increase occurs.
REQUIRED EVALUATION REPORTS - Reports are required for the following:
Six Month Probation: Employees serving a six month probationary period shall be evaluated at three (3) and six (6) months during their probation period.
One Year Probation: Employees serving a one-year probationary period shall be evaluated at three (3), six (6) and twelve (12) months during their probational period.
Permanent Employees: All permanent employees shall be evaluated at least once a year just prior to their date of eligibility for a merit salary increase or, for those at the top step of the salary range, on the anniversary of their attainment of that top step.
Extra-Help Employees: None required
Civil Service Exempt Employees: Employees in positions which are exempt from Civil Service should be evaluated on the same cycle that exists for comparable classes within the Civil Service System.
For Your Reference: All County positions are subject to a six month probation period except those listed in Section VI E, Length of Probationary Period, of the Civil Service Rules which have a one year probation period. A list of classes with a one-year probation period is found in the Civil Service Rules (Section 130 of the Personnel Regulations). A list of positions exempt from Civil Service may be found in County Code Section 3.12.040 (Section 120 of the Personnel Regulations.)
SPECIAL EVALUATION REPORTS
The purpose of placing an employeeon special evaluation is to bring about improvement in employee performance which is substandard. This process serves as a notice to the employee of their need to improve their performance in one or more areas. Evaluations are not to be used as discipline. Permanent employees receiving an annual performance evaluation with an overall rating of nsatisfactory or improvement needed will automatically be placed on special evaluation. During the special evaluation period, evaluations will continue at two-month intervals until the employee has attained an overall performance rating of standard or is subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal. Once the employee attains an overall performance rating of standard, the employee will be removed from special evaluation treatment. The maximum time period that an employee can remain on special evaluation is six months. Employees who are unsuccessful in attaining an overall performance rating of standard or better during a continuous six-month special evaluation period will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal from County employment, subject to the appeal rights regarding disciplinary action.
The Personnel Department must be notified in all cases where an employee is to be placed on special evaluation. Such notification whether it be through a substandard scheduled evaluation report or a separate special evaluation request must include a written statement of the specific performance problems leading to the need for a special evaluation, the date that the performance problems were discussed with the employee, the type of performance improvement that is nessary and the date that the special evaluation period is to begin.
Before generating a special evaluation report, the problem documentation and plan for improvement should be discussed with your departmental reviewing officer and department head.
III. THE PROBATIONARY PERIOD
An Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Report prepared on the performance of employees during their probationary period is the basis for determining whether the probationary employee will receive a permanent appointment or whether they are going to be released. The probationary period is the final step in the selection process and gives you the time to spot marginal employees whose skills, knowledges, abilities and attitudes cannot be brought up to your department standards. Conversely, by setting job standards, clearly communicating set job standards and measuring a probationary employee's performance against job standards will help you to develop an employee who will become a valued asset for your department.
You are responsible for training and objectively evaluating the performance of the probationary employee. To make this a fair trial working period for the employee, you must do the following:
- Make the requirements of the job clear, including the performance standards.
- Give clear and adequate instruction and assure that the employee understands the instructions, job requirements and performance standards.
- Observe performance and let the employee know about their strengths and weaknesses at the first opportunity. If a probationary employee has serious weaknesses, develop an action plan related to job standards and job requirements to overcome specific weaknesses.
- Keep records of performance. Records of incidents and conferences are valuable as a basis for evaluation and recommendation at the close of the probation period.
- Establish a good working relationship with the employee and assist the employee as much as possible. Help to establish good work habits and attitudes early in the probationary period.
TERMINATING A PROBATIONARY EMPLOYEE
Probationary employees who have not met the job standards of your department, after a fair trial, should be released. Waiting to the end of the probationary period is not in the best interest of the other employees in your department who must pick up the workload or the employee who is not meeting the standards of the job. In most cases, you should be able to determine if a probationary employee will be able to meet the job standards within the first two months in the job.
LIMITS ON PROBATIONARY PERIOD
The probationary period for each County position is established by the Civil Service Commission at either six (6) months or one year. Civil Service Rules do not permit extension of an employee's probation beyond the designated period.
Notwithstanding the above, a probation period may be extended for a maximum of two months upon mutual agreement of the employee and the department head. Such agreement must be in writing and dated prior to the end of the regular probation period for the employee's classification.
IV. SUPERVISOR'S RECORDS OF PERFORMANCE
Keep written records or notes of an employee's performance. This is especially important when the employee's performance is definitely above or below the performance standards of the position. Written records should describe both single incidents and patterns. These records may be progress reports or summaries of performance. You should include specific, significant, descriptive comments to support any generalization.
VALUE OF RECORDS
- Provides the employee with specific examples of good or poor performance.
- Justifies performance ratings.
- Supports taking disciplinary action.
- Assists in identifying objectives for next work period.
CRITERIA FOR ROUTINE WORKING RECORDS
- Includes name of employee and job title.
- Indicate date, time and location of incident or situation.
- Be objective and clear, recording accurately what has actually happened.
- Include only facts and base any conclusions on the facts.
- Indicate trends in the employee's behavior.
- Indicate positive as well as negative qualities.
- Be brief and specific.
- Record promptly and discuss at the time of the occurrence with the employee.
- Signed and dated by the observer or supervisor.
FORMAL RECORD KEEPING PROCEDURE
- A written record should be prepared by you as the employee's immediate supervisor.
- Written records should be reviewed by the division or department head in case of exemplary or negative performances.
- You should meet with the employee to discuss significant incidents.
- The employee should sign the written record to acknowledge awareness of it in cases of exemplary or negative performance. A copy of the written record must be given the employee with a certification that the employee received the document.
- Copies of the record should be forwarded through the department head to the employee's personnel file, which is maintained in the Personnel Department, in case of exemplary performance or of performance which may lead to disciplinary action.
- Copies of all records should be kept by the supervisor.
V. PERFORMANCE EVALUATION AND ACHIEVEMENTS
CATEGORIES AND FACTORS
The performance evaluation section of the form provides for an appraisal of six general categories. There is a seventh category marked "Other" for appraising those factors which are not included within the previous six categories. A separate category is available or evaluating supervisory performance. Each category is composed of a number of specific factors. These factors serve as guides to help you as the supervisor evaluate the employee in a methodical fashion as you work toward the final overall evaluation. Factors not mentioned but considered significant to the employee's performance, should be added by the rater in the place provided on the form under category marked "Other". Those factors found to be rateable should be evaluated for all employees in the same job class using the same job standards.
For reference purposes, definitions of factors may be found on the back of the evaluation form. Only those factors that are applicable to the job, that you have knowledge of and have been observed should be evaluated. When a factor is applicable a rating should be indicated by circling the appropriate number to the left of the factor. The following suggestions will help you use the factors effectively in evaluating an employee's performance:
- Complete each category separately.
- Evaluate each factor according to job standards as established between the employee and the supervisor.
- Omit factors not related to job performance.
- Don't limit yourself to the factors on the form. If others are important, list and discuss them in the section provided.
Performance must be interpreted in relationship to departmental standards established for the job. When departmental standards are not clearly discernible for certain factors, you should identify such standards through discussions with other department supervisors and the department head. Each factor is rated numerically on a scale from one to five according to the level of performance. The number circled should be the one which most closely approximates overall performance. When doubt exists over the performance level, assume that the lower of the two numbers should be circled to show that the employee has not clearly demonstrated the higher level of performance. Comments should be entered for all ratings which are above and below standard to help clarify the meaning of the numerical rating assigned. This will assist the employee in understanding your thought more specifically. Since space for comments is limited on the report, you may wish to submit comments as a separate attachment. Separate attachments should be completed in triplicate and must be reviewed by the employee.
To assign you in selecting the appropriate performance rating category, the following definitions are provided:
Rating 1 - UNSATISFACTORY: This factor of the employee's work performance is inadequate and definitely inferior to the standards of performance required for the position. Performance at this level cannot be allowed to continue.
Rating 2 - IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: This factor of the employee's work performance is occasionally below the minimum standards of the position. Serious effort is needed to improve performance.
Rating 3 - MEETS JOB STANDARDS: This factor of the employee's work performance consistently meets the standards of the position.
Rating 4 - EXCEEDS JOB STANDARDS: This factor of the employee's work performance is frequently or consistently above the level of a satisfactory employee, but has not yet achieved an overall level of outstanding performance.
Rating 5 - OUTSTANDING: This factor of the employee's work performance is consistently excellent when compared to the standards required of the job.
The achievement section provides a basic analysis and narrative review of the employee's achievement related to job standards and job responsibilities during the appraisal period. This section requires appraising the achievement of those specific objectives established for the evaluation period. Appraising objectives and measuring results may be most appropriate for managerial, supervisory and professional personnel. For other employees the Achievement Section my serve as summary of areas were performance has improved or specific incidents where performance was noteworthy.
VI. SUMMARY RATING
After reviewing the job requirements and appraising the employee in several job categories, you must make an overall appraisal of employee performance. There is no formula for determining the overall rating. For any position, certain factors are more important than others. In determining the overall rating, an employee's overall performance should be considered against these standard of performance expected of individuals performing those duties in that department. Employees performing the same duties must be evaluated against the same standard. Inexperienced employees will generally be evaluated lower than those who have experience. Comparisons against the same job standard will allow you to measure each employee's progress, or lack of progress, between appraisal periods. You should not rate or hold employees accountable for duties not performed during the appraisal period. There are five possible ratings that you may select to summarize an employee's overall performance. Only one rating may be chosen. The overall rating should be consistent with the detailed ratings. The following descriptions are provided as a guide to assist in arriving at the appropriate overall rating.
UNSATISFACTORY - This rating is give when overall work performance is inadequate and definitely inferior to the standards of performance required for the position. Performance at this level must be significantly improved and cannot remain at this level. This warning requires immediate remedial action.
IMPROVEMENT NEEDED - This rating is given when a significant part of the employee's overall performance is below the minimum acceptable standard for the position. This rating should be given when the rater believes the employee can bring his or her overall performance up to an acceptable level. This does not mean that all performance factors are less than satisfactory, only that the rater believes important performance factors are less than satisfactory and they must be brought up to an acceptable level within a reasonable amount of time with further effort, experience or training.
MEETS JOB STANDARDS - This is a satisfactory rating and means that the employee's overall job performance meets, but does not exceed, the standards expected of employees in that job class. This is the performance expected of a trained and qualified employee. This is the performance expected of a trained and qualified employee. The work consistently meets the standards required of the position. This doesn't necessarily mean the employee's performance in all factors rated is satisfactory; for there may be factor ratings which are below standard indicating improvement is needed in some less significant aspects of the job.
EXCEEDS JOB STANDARDS - This rating is given when a substantial part of the employee's work is consistently well above the required standards.
OUTSTANDING - This rating is reserved for those employees whose performance is consistently excellent. The employee's performance exceed job standards in most performance factors and is rated as outstanding in the more important or critical erformance areas.
VII. FUTURE OBJECTIVE AND DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The objective section is used to identify specific tasks, projects or work assignments that are to be achieved over the next evaluation period. As objectives, by definition, involve commitment, the should be jointly established between the employee and you as the supervisor. In setting objectives there should be a clear statement of what work is to be done, what result is expected, a completion date and who is to be accountable. Because of the length of time between evaluations, objectives may be modified, deleted or added before the next evaluation is prepared. Involving employees in an ongoing objective-setting process will facilitate improved communication, employee participation and commitment.
The prime objective of this section is to assist the employee in improving performance in the current job. Through this approach you are attempting to build on areas of strength as well as point out a weakness in performance and to outline specific corrective action. Any planned development effort for an employee must be specific. Whenever possible, an action plan with completion dates should be established. An action plan may include: on-the-job training or assignments, coaching by the supervisor, professional and association seminars, university programs, reading and self-study, adult education, trade schools, etc.
In addition to the primary objective of developing the employee for improved performance in the current job, development in this section may also be directed at preparing the employee for greater responsibility. This section of the report could be used to plan for the development of the employee's skills which are necessary for advancement, or to prepare for new responsibilities at the employee's current level. Horizontal growth my be just as advantageous for individual development as upward growth.
REMARKS BY EMPLOYEE
Using the space provided on the evaluation form, employees may make a written comment about any aspect of their performance report. Such comments may include employee statements about future career plans, how employees feel about their work or may indicate the employee's disagreement with specific ratings or comments which appear on the form. If there is insufficient room on the form for the employee's remarks, the employee can submit comments on a separate attachment (in triplicate).
The comments and remarks portion of the Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Report is the most important part of the report. Comments communicate ideas and facts far better than numeric ratings. Without a remarks section, an evaluation form reveals very little concrete information about an employee's performance. For example, a rating of two for attendance indicates only that you as the supervisor personally consider the employee below the acceptable standard in that area. The employee doesn't know the reason for the rating, the performance standard and what corrective or disciplinary measures have been or will be taken. The reviewing officer or department head doesn't know if the employee had been counseled or consulted about the attendance problem. To give meaning to the employee's appraisal, comments should be used to clarify significant items and factors in the evaluation. Specific comments will be remembered by the employee and, thereby, facilitate the improvement of deficiencies or continuation of consistent average or above performance. Since the portion allotted for comments of the report itself is rather small, you are encouraged to submit comments on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to the report. The following suggestions are provided to assist you in filling out the comments section of the evaluation report.
CRITERIA FOR GOOD COMMENTS
- Brief, specific and complete.
- Objective statements, measuring the employee against standard job requirements.
AVOID IN THE COMMENTS
- Labels of personality type (e.g., employee is lazy). You may describe behavior which might be unusual or indicate a pattern, but be sure to refer to specific instances.
- Rumors and personal interpretation of actions and attitudes.
- Complicated terminology.
INCLUDE IN COMMENTS
- Standards of job performance for the position and how the employee's performance compares to the standards.
- Elements of the employee's job performance which are especially strong or which need improving.
- Examples of incidents which serve to illustrate significant aspects of the employee's job performance.
- Description of results of previous interviews with the employee.
- Action plans worked out with the employee for improving performance or acquiring additional skills.
- Work performed and/or skills beyond the requirements of the present assignment and an action plan to utilize employee's additional skills.
All Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Reports and any records submitted for documentation in the employee's personnel file should contain the signatures of the employee, the employee's supervisor and the reviewing officer or the department head. An employee must be given a copy of any negative material entered into the employee's official personnel file.
After completing the Performance Report, discuss the report with the reviewing officer or department head, then sign the report on the signature line for "rater". Prior to presenting the report to the employee, the reviewing officer reviews the report to assure that the appraisal is objective, accurate and consistent with performance standards set for the department. Discrepancies and disagreement should be resolved prior to presenting the report to the employee.
After you and the employee have discussed the report, the employee should be requested to sign the report. The employee's signature on the report verifies that the report has been seen and discussed with the employee, not that the employee agrees with the contents. The employee may enter remarks in the section provided for that purpose or may attach a separate written response to the report. If the employee feels the rating is improper they should place an "X" in the space provided next to the signature line to indicate their desire to discuss the report with the reviewing officer.
REVIEWING OFFICER SIGNATURE
After you and the employee have met and signed the report, the report should be submitted to the reviewing officer for final review and signature. If an employee request for discussion is indicated on the report the reviewing officer will discuss the report with you and the employee. Any changes as a result of this discussion shall be presented to the employee. Upon completion of this review, the reviewing officer shall sign and date the report giving the employee a copy, keeping a copy for the department and forwarding the original copy to the Personnel Department. In the case of a report with other than a standard overall performance rating, the department head should review the contents before forwarding to the Personnel Department. In some departments the reviewing officer and department head will be the same person.
X. THE EVALUATION DISCUSSION
To be effective, performance evaluation must occur on a day-to-day basis. The "Evaluation Discussion" thus becomes the formal summary of many day-to-day discussions with an employee concerning job performance. Feedback on performance is more effective if given on the spot rather than allowing time to elapse. This applies equally to praise and criticism. For example, when an employee performs in a superior fashion on a specific assignment he or she should be complimented at that time. Concrete achievements should be recognized and praised as they occur. Praise that is saved up and given in a general way once a year has little or no effect on performance. Employees can take criticism in small doses. Consequently, when an employee is performing poorly, the poor performance should be criticized when it occurs. Criticism saved up and given only at the formal annual evaluation becomes excessive. An employee then becomes defensive and this results in inferior performance. Consequently, criticism and suggestions or improved performance are less threatening, and more likely to achieve the desired effect if given as the need occurs rather than at a formal performance review once a year.
Mutually set goals and objectives with defined action plans are far more effective in changing performance than either praise or criticism. Therefore to be effective the evaluation discussion should:
- Provide a basis for jointly formulating an objective with an action plan for achieving the objective.
- Be understood and accepted by the employee.
- Provide on-going recognition for job performance in areas consistently above the average or outstanding.
- Result is a better understanding between you and the employee about requirements and performance standards and the degree to which the employee meets job requirements.
STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE THE DISCUSSION
Review the objectives mutually set at the last performance evaluation. Write your objectives for the coming year and be prepared to communicate those objectives to the employee.
- Notify the employee several weeks in advance of the time and date of the evaluation discussion. Ask the employee to come to the interview with stated job objectives for the coming year. Indicate that the interview will be a two-way process and that you will be mutually setting objectives for the coming year.
- Complete the Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Report with the exception of the objectives section.
- Select a time and place conducive to comfortable and uninterrupted communication.
DISCUSSING THE APPRAISAL
- SET AN APPROPRIATE ATMOSPHERE - Be relaxed and help the employee to relax. Start the discussion on a friendly, positive note. If the employee has done an outstanding job, tell them that at the beginning. This will emphasize that any criticism or suggestions for corrective action which follow are minor in comparison to your appreciation for a job well done. When there is a less than satisfactory performance and you are attempting to obtain substantial improvement, avoid a definite statement of the overall performance at the beginning of the discussion. Instead, performance should be revealed gradually either by self-examination (encouraged by you) or by a series of individual appraisal statements as each segment of the performance factors have been covered verbally.
- BE A GOOD LISTENER - As a supervisor, do not monopolize the conversation. Avoid the common temptation to talking too much, giving unnecessary advice, telling the person how you would handle the job, arguing, interruption, judging. Solutions to problems are more likely to be really workable if they are arrived at by the employee, rather than imposed by the supervisor. Listen attentively. Try to listen for the meaning the words are means to convey. Also, however, listen for the feelings and attitudes behind the words. Check your understanding of what the person is saying by occasionally summarizing the main points, and then giving the employee a chance to make corrections or additions.
BE SPECIFIC AND CONSTRUCTION - In discussing the employee's performance be as specific and factual as possible. Remember you are not defending your appraisal, but simply discussing your evaluation of job performance. Use job standards to point out job requirements. Be specific where improvement is needed. Let the employee come up with their own suggestions, to correct weaknesses, and be prepared to make your own suggestions. Remember that the purpose of the discussion is to discuss the employee's performance, not just those areas that need improvement. Be sure to give the employee credit, sincerely and willingly, for the strong areas of performance.
- MUTUALLY SET OBJECTIVES - Ask the employee to state their prepared objectives for the coming year.
- State your own objectives for the employee for the coming year.
- Reach agreement on the objectives for the coming appraisal period.
- Discuss expectations - progress steps and measurements you will be using in assessing the employees progress towards achieving theobjectives and jointly prepare an action plan.
- Identify ways you as the supervisor can assist the employee to overcome past difficulties and how you can assist the employee to overcome past difficulties and how you can assist the employee in the coming appraisal period.
- Ask the employee to summarize to assure that they understand the objectives and action plan.
- You summarize the objectives and action plan.
- Express confidence in the employee and set follow up review date.
Once the discussion has been completed and plans for the coming year have been mutually determined, an important responsibility for you still remains. In the day-to-day supervision of the employee, you must determine the effectiveness of the discussion and the progress achieved in implementing action plans for improvement. For program success, you must provide the employee with continuing feedback. This will not only make periodic appraisal report more meaningful, but will allow the employee to achieve consistently better performance on the job.
XI. EVALUATION APPEAL
When an employee feels the evaluation rating by their supervisor is improper, they may request to discuss that rating with a reviewing officer by checking the box provided on the Employee Performance Evaluation and development Report. The supervisor is responsible for notifying the reviewing officer of the request for review. The reviewing officer in a department may be the department head or, in larger departments, someone appointed by the department head to review evaluations for objectivity, accuracy, and consistency with performance standards set for the department.
After holding a conference with the employee, the employee's representative (if any) and the supervisor to resolve the matter, the reviewing officer will make a determination regarding the questioned rating. Either the supervisor or the reviewing officer may make changes in the evaluation subsequent to the review and discussion with the employee when such changes appear warranted. A copy of all changes in the evaluation must be presented to the employee being rated prior to being placed in their file. The reviewing officer will sign the report including any changes, the employee will be given a copy, the department will retain a copy, and the original copy will be forwarded to the Personnel Department. In the case of another than standard rating, the department head should review the contents of the report before forwarding to the Personnel Department.
If the employee wishes further consideration after receiving their copy of the evaluation report, they may direct a request for further consideration to the department head. Such request must be filed in writing within five (5) days after the employee receives a copy of the report and must include the following:
- Identify the report by stating the date of the report, the name of the rater, and the date of the report was received.
- Specify the ratings or comments which they believe are incorrect.
- State the ratings or comments the believe should be made on the report.
- Give facts substantiating each change requested.
The employee should keep a copy of the written request and send the original to the head of the department.
Upon receiving the request, the department head has ten (10) days to either sustain or change the report of performance and notify the employee of the decision in writing. The department head may base his/her response on the materials submitted, or may choose to meet with the employee. In case of the change of the report, a copy shall be included with the decision.
The employee wishing to appeal an evaluation rating further may do so through the County Personnel Director provided that:
- The employee has passed probation.
- The Employee Performance Evaluation and Development Report in question has an overall rating which is less than "Meets Job Standards".
- All departmental remedies for resolving the questioned rating have been exhausted.
- The employee filing the evaluation appeal does so within ten (10) days after receiving the department head's written decision regarding the questioned rating.
On such evaluation appeals the decision of the personnel director shall be final.
FOR REFERENCE: See Civil Service Rules Section X, paragraph E, Appeal From Evaluation Rating, and the appendix to the Civil Service Rules "Policy of the Civil Service Commission - Scope of Authority - Employee's Performance Evaluation" which sets forth the limits of the Personnel Director's authority with respect to evaluation appeals.