Temple Times Online Edition
    SEPTEMBER 16, 2004
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Survey charts success of PDS

July 1 marked the first anniversary of the Performance Development System. With few exceptions, every employee received a performance development plan and review — an accomplishment in which both staff and supervisors can take pride. With results of the survey conducted early this year now available and the first year of the PDS complete, Human Resources can now report on feedback from employees and supervisors on performance management at the University.


Employees are a vital element in the University’s success. The PDS was designed to encourage and reinforce high levels of learning, performance and development among all non-faculty and full- and part-time employees. It provides a structured and interactive process with tools for supervisors and employees to actively engage in performance planning, development, management and review throughout the year.

The survey

Early this year, a survey was sent to 3,000 staff members and supervisors to gather their impressions of how work performance was managed at the University before the PDS was introduced. That feedback established a baseline to measure the effectiveness of the PDS over time.

Responses were kept completely confidential. Total Compensation Services, a third-party service, collected and tabulated the surveys and supplied only summary data to the University.

What employees said

Of the 3,000 employees, 1,072 completed the survey — a solid level of participation for employee surveys (See Chart A). Staff and supervisors who took part in the survey were representative of the entire employee group in terms of age, gender mix, ethnicity and years of service at the University.

More than 300 respondents provided written remarks about work performance and performance management across the University. Feedback ranged from very positive in some areas to negative in other areas.

Almost 95 percent of staff and supervisors said that before the PDS they understood how important quality customer service is at the University and that they were committed to going the extra mile to deliver it. A majority of employees also said that they thought they had the skills to deliver that service. However, without a structured approach to performance management, employees who performed well were not recognized, and those who did not do their jobs suffered no consequences. “I get very little regular feedback about my performance,” was a typical remark.

People were confident that they understood their jobs’ importance to the University and that they performed their jobs well. While just over 90 percent of the supervisors said they set performance standards, employees expressed frustration over the lack of clear direction and regular, objective feedback. Of the experience, employees wrote: “It can be very de-motivating and bad for morale,” and “I feel my work performance is excellent, but it goes unnoticed and unrewarded.”

Only about half of those responding to the survey said they believed that the University encouraged excellent performance before the PDS was implemented. “Encouragement to perform is most often nonexistent,” was how one employee put it.

Less than 50 percent of the employees said they received a formal evaluation of work performance before the PDS. Though 84 percent of the supervisors said they met with employees annually, one supervisor wrote: “I’m guilty as charged.” Another said: “In the past, I had no formal one-to-one meetings with employees, but did develop group goals and standards.”

First year with PDS

With 3,300 performance development plans submitted through the end of its first year, more than 99 percent of employees received performance reviews. The vast majority of employees were rated Proficient (See Chart B).

Right from the start, it appeared that the PDS was having a positive impact on performance management. In the survey, which was conducted six months after the PDS was launched, one employee commented: “The [PDP] has provided me with a framework in which to work in a more systematic fashion. … It also provided me with measurable results of my work performance. Thank you.”

Supervisors said they appreciated having clearly defined expectations for their role in the PDS and the structure it provided, and having input in the merit raise process. They also praised the training seminars.

In early August, an advisory council met with Human Resources to look back on the PDS’s first-year performance. The council included employees and supervisors from academic and administrative units throughout the University.

In general, their opinions mirrored the early feedback in the survey. Participants said the PDS was positive because it provided a framework for establishing clearly defined goals and regular feedback. They also said that employees were taking advantage of training and other development opportunities, an impression that was confirmed by the 50 percent increase in attendance to Human Resources workshops.

Many opinions were shared about the relationship between evaluations to pay increases and how the PDS works for union employees. The council also made suggestions for refining competencies and rating categories.

Next steps

By now most supervisors have met with their staff members and developed plans for fiscal year 2004-05. Employees are encouraged to continue to accomplish their goals and develop their competencies. Human Resources recommends that supervisors have regular feedback sessions with their employees throughout the year in addition to the final review meetings in June. All completed and rated PDPs are due to the Human Resources Department by June 15.

Training and other developmental activities will continue to be available through the Human Resources Department. For details, go to https://atlas.ocis.temple.edu/hr. Human Resources will consider the feedback it receives from the advisory council, other staff members and surveys, and will work to strengthen the effectiveness of the PDS. A follow-up survey is planned for early 2005, when the value of the PDS will again be measured.