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    MARCH 23, 2006
 
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HRMatters

PDS Survey results are in and encouraging

Have you ever wondered whether the Performance Development System is worth the effort? What employees think of it? Whether it has had an impact on the University? If you said yes, you’re not the only one. The Human Resources Department wanted to know, too. To find answers to those questions, in late November and December, they sent a survey to 4,004 full- and part-time staff and supervisors. Of that group, 1,208 responded — more than the 1,072 employees and supervisors who participated in 2004.

“More than a year had gone by since the original baseline survey on the PDS was conducted in 2004, and we wanted to find out from staff and supervisors how the PDS was working,” said Karen Cherwony, associate vice president for human resources.

In a nutshell, the results show that most people believe the PDS has encouraged employees and supervisors to work together to improve overall job performance and customer service at Temple. Across the board, employees and supervisors agreed that more time is being devoted to managing performance, with positive outcomes.

Survey responses point to significant progress in the frequency of formal performance evaluations and annual goal setting since the launch of the PDS in 2004.

“Temple is refreshing because of the [PDS] ensuring that employees are in constant communication with their supervisors and performance and expectations are constantly measured. It’s wonderful!!!” said an employee. Many more people also agreed that Temple supports performance excellence. This is encouraging news.

Significant progress

The PDS is more than the traditional annual performance appraisal system. It provides supervisors and employees with a framework to actively engage in performance planning, development, management and evaluation throughout the year. Progress has been made in every aspect of the PDS. The greatest improvement is that formal evaluations are taking place and that goal setting is occurring.

Staff members recognize the benefit of formal reviews, as reflected in the following comment: “I think the PDS is very helpful to both the employee and the supervisor so they both are aware of what is expected, which eliminates any surprises [at] the end of the year.” This is essential to aligning employee goals and productivity to achieve University’s vision, mission and goals. And of course, it ensures that people are recognized for performance excellence.

Eighty-two percent of employees agreed that their supervisors conducted a formal review at least once a year, a significant increase over the 50 percent who agreed in 2004. Another 79 percent said that they set annual work goals with their supervisors, up from 64 percent in 2004.

A higher percentage (74 percent) of employees also agreed that performance excellence is supported and encouraged at the University, up from 51 percent in 2004.
Almost all employees (93 percent) said that they understand the importance of their job to their departments and the University. Another 91 percent said they were both clear on their job responsibilities and with the level of performance expected of them. Both percentages were higher than in 2004.

Professional development

The PDS “is helping professional staff to fine tune their skills and broaden their knowledge in areas they wish to develop in. … [Most] importantly, this program is giving non-professional staff the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills,” another employee observed.

Activities such as attending classes, workshops and training, as well as self-study and reading, can contribute to improved on-the-job performance. Most supervisors (87 percent) encourage their employees to take advantage of professional development opportunities, and 89 percent of employees confirm that they do so. Most people (83 percent) said that the training programs enhance their performance, although some employees wrote comments suggesting that more training courses be offered and that popular programs be offered more frequently.

Constructive and consistent feedback from supervisors is crucial to employee development. The vast majority of supervisors (95 percent) confirm that they do so. However, employees see it differently. Only 72 percent of employees say they receive feedback!

Customer service

Feedback on the success of the University’s emphasis on customer service was surprising. Employees’ perception ranged from comments such as “I believe customer service at the University has improved in the last two years” to “We have a long way to go before we are where we should be with customer service.”

Looking back to the 2004 survey, more than 90 percent of employees said they understood the importance of customer service and were committed to going the extra mile for their customers.

Surprisingly, in 2005, only 73 percent said that the focus on customer service has enhanced their ability to deliver high quality service. An even smaller 68 percent agreed that the focus on customer service has enhanced service delivery at the University.

Conclusions

There is no question; the results of the 2005 PDS survey are encouraging. According to Cherwony, “Employees and supervisors have affirmed that the PDS has had a positive effect on performance management activities, but there’s room for improvement.”
Issues include:

• the functionality of the online PDS system.
• the need for updated job descriptions.
• the gap between employee and supervisor perceptions on the level of supervisory skills required of Temple University supervisors. While 93 percent of supervisors report that they have the skills required to manage and evaluate performance, only 78 percent of employees agree. Only 65 percent of employees say their supervisors provide coaching, counseling and mentoring, which are essential to performance excellence.
• how to achieve more gains in customer service.

For more information about the PDS, including frequently asked questions and tips for supervisors and employees to get the most out of the PDS, visit the HR Web site at www.temple.edu/hr.

 

 


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