Staff Performance Appraisal Guide

This guide is designed for managers and employees and provides general information and best practices for giving and receiving annual performance appraisals.  The focus is on appraisals for classified and administrative & professional (A&P) staff, not faculty or students, though some best practices would apply to all situations in which performance feedback is being given.  Departmental Human Resources (HR) contacts and central HR Strategic Workforce Solutions consultants are available to assist you throughout the process. 

Some colleges, schools, or units (CSUs), will be utilizing a stand-alone appraisal document as they have in past years and some will be using a Workday appraisal form.  This is determined by CSU leadership.

For instructions on how to complete performance appraisals in Workday for managers, employees, and HR professionals, visit the Workday Performance Appraisal webpage.

Guide Content

  1. Why do annual performance appraisals?
  2. Who needs to receive an appraisal?
  3. Why do a self-appraisal?
  4. What is the timeline for giving appraisals?
  5. Where are the appraisal templates and how do I learn what to do in Workday?
  6. What are tips for managers when writing an annual appraisal?
  7. What do the appraisal ratings mean?
  8. How do appraisal ratings influence merit increases?
  9. Who is eligible for a merit increase?
  10. How do competencies fit into the appraisal process?
  11. What is required of managers in this process?
  12. What is required of employees in this process?
  13. Who can assist staff with questions about appraisals?
  14. How are annual appraisals handled for probationary staff?
  15. How are annual appraisals handled for recent transfers?
  16. How are annual appraisals handled when the manager has left?
  17. What if an employee disagrees with the rating and/or content of an appraisal?
  18. After the appraisal is delivered and finalized, then what?

Why do annual performance appraisals?

Appraisals serve to formalize and document how an employee performed their job in comparison with the expectations of their job.  By doing so, performance is reinforced or noted as needing change or improvement.  This formal assessment supports compensation decisions or personnel actions such as reclassification, permanent additional duty pay, and corrective actions.  Additionally, University policy HOP 5-2310 Performance Evaluation Policy for Classified Personnel and Non-Faculty Professional Staff states that all benefits-eligible non-faculty, professional staff are provided an annual performance appraisal.  The University System Board of Regents requires the President to certify each August that annual appraisals have been given to eligible employees.

While the appraisal is a once-a-year event, managers are expected to provide performance feedback to employees on a regular basis throughout the year. Content in an appraisal should not be a surprise to an employee.

Who needs to receive an appraisal?

HOP 5-2310 requires that classified staff and non-faculty professional staff who are appointed 20 hours or more per week for a consecutive 135 days or more receive an annual appraisal.

As a best practice, however, any employee who regularly works and is in an expected-to-continue position warrants receiving an appraisal. 19-hour a week employee has impact on a department and the level of their performance matters.  They also have the same desire as a 20 or 40 hour a week employee to receive informal and formal feedback that supports their positive contributions to the organization and identifies areas of development

A written appraisal form is completed for the majority of employees.  But for most Administrative Officers and for a few Administrative & Professional positions, formal conversations occur between the employee and their manager and the documentation is simply a memo stating that the appraisal discussion occurred. 

Why do a self-appraisal?

For CSUs using a stand-alone annual appraisal form (not in Workday), a self-appraisal may be required or optional or not used.  For those using Workday, there is an offering of three annual appraisals with two that include a self-appraisal and one that does not.  CSU leadership determines which annual appraisal form will be used and how to handle self-appraisals.  Self-appraisals are not rated by the employee or manager.

Completing a self-appraisal is advantageous for both the employee and the manager. It serves as a formal tool for the employee to give input to their manager about accomplishments and challenges that occurred during the year as well as providing an opportunity for them to bring up desired work-related development or goals.  It is included in the employee’s personnel file along with the annual appraisal and so the employee’s “voice” is part of their employment history.  For the manager, receiving a self-appraisal can often serve to remind of events worth noting in the annual appraisal.  Additionally, it indicates how the employee feels about their own performance for the year which can help the manager construct an effective appraisal discussion. 

For instructions on how to complete a self-appraisal in Workday, review the following materials:

Non-Workday self-appraisals are located on the HR website.

What is the timeline for giving appraisals?

There is not a university-wide timeline for delivering appraisals, however, the President is required to certify in August of each year that all eligible employees received an annual appraisal.  Each CSU sets their 12-month assessment period and appraisal due dates. Departmental HR staff or CSU leadership communicates due dates to staff. 

Where are the appraisal templates and how do I learn what to do in workday?

Your CSU leadership or department HR contact will provide direction on which appraisal to use as well as timelines for completion.

A standard non-Workday appraisal can be found here.

If you are using an appraisal in Workday, there are a number of resources available on the Workday website and are outlined here.

For Everyone (Performance Appraisals Overview)

Employee Performance Appraisals – Workday Process Overview

  • Provides a high-level overview of the Workday Performance Appraisal process.

For Employees

Workday Walkthroughs: Performance Reviews for Employees (video)

This video demonstrates the employee’s responsibility in Workday for the annual performance appraisal process. This video covers how to complete performance reviews as the employee, how to complete your self-review, and other functionality such as uploading documentation and saving for later.

Complete Self Evaluation: Comprehensive Annual Review – Workday Instructional Guide

  • Assists employees in completing their portions of the “Comprehensive Annual Review.”
  • Your HR contact or manager will let you know when your self-appraisal will show up in your Workday inbox for completion.
  • After meeting with your manager, you will receive the final appraisal in your inbox and be asked to acknowledge with or without comments. 

Complete Staff Evaluation: Condensed Annual Review – Workday Instructional Guide

  • Assists employees in completing their portions of the “Condensed Annual Review.”
  • There are two types of condensed annual reviews.  One requires a self-appraisal and one does not.
  • If doing the one with a self-appraisal, your HR contact or manager will let you know when your self-appraisal will show up in your Workday inbox for completion.
  • After meeting with your manager, you will receive the final appraisal in your inbox and be asked to acknowledge with or without comments.

For Managers

Workday Walkthroughs: Performance Reviews for Managers (video)

This video demonstrates the manager’s responsibilities in Workday for annual performance appraisal process. This video covers how to complete performance reviews for employees as the manager, how to view completed performance reviews, and other functionality such as uploading documentation and saving for later.

Complete Manager Evaluation: Comprehensive Annual Review – Workday Instructional Guide

  • Assists managers in completing their portion of the “Comprehensive Annual Review”. 
  • The employee will actually take the first step by completing their self-appraisal.  
  • Managers, pay attention to item 15 about not “submitting” the review until after you have met with the employee.

Complete Manager Evaluation: Condensed Annual Review – Workday Instructional Guide

  • Assists managers in completing their portion of the “Condensed Annual Review”. 
  • Managers, pay attention to item 14 about not “submitting” the review until after you have met with the employee.

View Position Responsibilities for Performance Appraisal - Workday Instructional Guide

Updating the Responsibilities on a Position for Performance Appraisals – Workday Instructional Guide

  • Prior to launching appraisals, the department HR contact or manager will want to ensure responsibilities are accurate as they will be loaded into the appraisal for review.  

For HR Roles

The following Workday Instructional Guides are to assist those users who hold HR roles in Workday.

Performance Appraisal Security Information Guide

Start Performance Review – Workday Instructional Guide

View Position Responsibilities for Performance Appraisal - Workday Instructional Guide

Updating the Responsibilities on a Position for Performance Appraisals – Workday Instructional Guide

What are tips for managers when writing an annual appraisal?

  • Reflect the full 12 months and the whole picture of performance.
  • Be specific with feedback on performance and include the business impact.
  • Sync content with feedback you have provided throughout the year. No surprises.
  • Don’t document poor performance or conduct if you have not specifically discussed it with the employee during the course of the review year and allowed reasonable time for improvement.
  • Use clear language.
  • Give examples.
  • Do not refer to medical leaves, ADA accommodations, grievances, Title IX or DIA investigations or compliance complaints.

What do the appraisal ratings mean?

Effective 2019, the University became consistent in using five-level rating scale for performance appraisals. Though definitions are not on appraisal forms in Workday, a way to think about the ratings is as follows:

Exceeds Expectations: Overall contribution consistently exceeded the communicated expectations in performance and conduct.

Exceeds Some Expectations: Overall contribution consistently met and often exceeded the communicated expectations in performance and conduct.

Meets Expectations: Overall contribution consistently met the communicated expectations in performance and conduct.

Does Not Meet Some Expectations: Overall contribution sometimes met the communicated expectations in performance and/or conduct. One or more responsibilities or competencies were not achieved.

Does Not Meet Expectations: Overall contribution was consistently below the communicated expectations in performance and/or conduct.

How do appraisal ratings influence merit increases?

The university’s compensation philosophy is one of paying for performance.  Meaning stronger performance generally equals a higher percentage of merit increase. That said, CSUs, and sometimes individual managers, have discretion in how merit increases are allocated.  Some choose to give a percentage based on appraisal score, some choose to give everyone the same percentage increase as long as performance was “Meets” or above, and others may choose to give a blend of recurring merit for some levels of performance and a one-time, lump sum merit for others. The annual merit policy is determined by the University Budget Council and merit recommendations are reviewed by the Board of Regents as part of the annual operating budget during their August meeting.

Who is eligible for a merit increase?

Employees who have been employed for the six months prior to the merit effective date of September 1st

Employees who have received a level two reminder corrective action are not eligible for merit for the year, unless approved by their Dean, Director, or Vice President. Employees who have received a level three reminder corrective action are not eligible to receive merit for the year.

How do competencies fit into the appraisal process?

Each job profile for classified and Administrative & Professional staff includes competencies that are integral to that particular job. Some examples of competencies include relationship management, problem solving, and effective communications. True to our decentralized approach to appraisals, some CSUs use appraisal forms that include specific job profile competencies, some include general competencies, and some include no competencies.  In Workday, the Comprehensive Annual Review contains the job profile competencies. Managers are asked to consider how well these competencies were exhibited by the employee but the competencies themselves are not scored.  Employees are able to provide comments for each competency.

Competencies help measure how a person accomplishes work.  For example, an employee may have produced a satisfactory outcome according to schedule and content but in so doing how did they manage communications?  Did they keep the right co-workers informed or were co-workers continually complaining that they were left in the dark?  If the latter, the overall assessment of this work would be lower because “how” the work was accomplished was not in line with expectations for effective communications.

In mid- 2021, we plan to add a new annual review form to Workday's offerings that will focus primarily on evaluating competencies.

What is required of managers in this process?

What is required of employees in this process?

  • Request feedback from your manager as needed and as practical throughout the year. Realize that our manager may not be prepared to give feedback at the moment you ask.
    • Last week was the first time I did X.  I’d appreciate hearing what you think worked well and didn’t work so well.”
    • We’re about half way through the year and I want to check in and see how I’m doing.  Is there anything you want me to do less of or more of?”
  • If asked to complete a self-appraisal, think about your accomplishments both in the context of work performed and the competencies you demonstrate when working.Provide brief examples to emphasize your points.Consider the audience for your self-appraisal to be your management chain and any UT-Austin hiring manager who might ask to see past appraisals.
  • Consider what development would enhance your success in the job.
  • For those using Workday for performance appraisals, review the following training materials:

Who can assist staff with questions about appraisals?

Managers and employees often have questions about the appraisal process or want to talk through how best to have a discussion.  There are several resources for these types of questions depending on need:

If in doubt about which resource to use, start with your departmental contact or SWS.

For questions on the functionality of Workday, start with your departmental HR contact. They may refer you to SWS or the Workday Help Desk.

How are annual appraisals handled for probationary staff?

Staff who will not have completed their 180-day probationary period by 9/1 are not required to receive an annual appraisal.  It is recommended that probationary employees receive up to three probationary appraisals during the 180 day period. 

How are annual appraisals handled for recent transfers?

Existing UT Austin employees who transfer to a new job or a new manager receive an annual appraisal.  This may be challenging when the employee is learning a new job or the employee and manager are new to each other.  Depending on the specifics of the situation, consider the following options.

The job responsibilities contained in the annual appraisal will be associated with the employee’s current job.  However, current managers may consider seeking narrative input from the former manager regarding overall performance of the employee and then inputting that information in the overall evaluation section of the annual appraisal.

Self-appraisals are particularly helpful in these situations as employees are able to offer a description of their past job and performance.  Even if your CSU does not typically use self-appraisals, you may want to do so in these cases.

Managers are encouraged to be transparent in conveying the newness of the employee when writing the content of the appraisal.  If it is too soon to make an assessment higher than “Meets”, state that.  Do take an opportunity to assess how the employee is learning the new role. 

How are annual appraisals handled when the manager has left?

The responsibility for completing an annual appraisal goes to the manager’s manager.  In some cases, that manager’s manager may delegate to another manager if that person has greater insight into the employee’s performance.  Whomever is writing the appraisal should review past appraisals to see what the employee is used to receiving. A best practice for managers who are leaving their role is to provide an interim appraisal for staff that can be part of the formal annual appraisal.  Self-appraisals are helpful as well in these situations even if your CSU does not normally use them. 

What should be discussed during the appraisal meeting?

This is the most important part of the appraisal process. Both parties should determine the most important messages they want to convey and be prepared to give and receive feedback.

Discussion includes reviewing accomplishments, areas for development, and goals and changes for the upcoming year.  Some managers choose to break this into two meetings with one focused on looking back and one on looking forward.

As mentioned, it is advised that managers provide the written appraisal to their employees prior to the discussion so the employee has time to digest the content. 

Managers facilitate the discussion and there are many ways to conduct an appraisal discussion. Some ideas:

  • Provide a verbal outline for the discussion at the onset of the meeting.
    • Example:“We have an hour scheduled and to make sure we cover everything, let’s start by discussing the past year and some appraisal specifics. That would lead us into talking about development and goals for the new review year. And then I’d like to have some time for you to tell me what support you need from me and ideas you might have for the group. How does that sound?”
  • If the employee has submitted a self-appraisal, a manager could begin the discussion with an overall observation of how in sync or how different the content is between self-appraisal and annual appraisal.
    • Example: “It looks like we are thinking similarly about the work you’ve performed this year. Let me highlight some of the areas that I see as key accomplishments.” 
    • Example: “I think we may have some differences in the way we are assessing the customer service aspect of your position.  But as far as X and Y and Z, I think we’re in sync. I agree with what you said about……. And let’s talk more about customer service……”
  • After confirming that the employee has read the annual appraisal, consider asking some questions before digging in on specifics. Explore how the employee is feeling about the appraisal. Such as,
    • Is there anything in the appraisal that is a surprise to you?” 
    • “Is there anything that I didn’t note in the appraisal that you wished I had?”
    • “How are you feeling about the overall assessment of your performance?”

What if an employee disagrees with the rating and/or content of an appraisal?

If an employee is in this situation, they should express their concern and provide information to their manager that may influence the desired change.  Employees are welcome to contact their department HR contact or SWS Consultant to discuss their concern and seek options on actions they could take.

For Workday appraisals, the employee can acknowledge with or without comments once the appraisal has been completed, this acknowledgement may express their concerns and/or disagreement of the content found in the appraisal. If the manager completes the final acknowledgement and then determines that updates are required on the appraisal, their departmental HR contact can utilize the action of “Manual Send Back” to return the review to the manager or the employee.

For non-Workday appraisals, employees are asked to sign as an acknowledgement of receipt.  A signature does not mean agreement.  If an employee does not want to sign their appraisal, they are not required to do so.  The manager will note on the appraisal that the appraisal was given on (date) and the employee declined to sign.

All appraisals allow for employee responses or rebuttals.  There is not a fixed time by which responses or rebuttals need to occur.  Responses or rebuttals are contained in the personnel file along with the annual appraisal.

Appraisals are able to be grieved per HOP 5-2430 Grievance Policy.  Prior to going to the formal grievance step, however, the University requires alternative resolution efforts as a first step where most situations are resolved prior to initiating a formal grievance.  However, for an employee who wants the option to grieve, they must present their complaint to the Dispute Resolution Officer within 10 business days from the date of the incident giving rise to the complaint has occurred.  In this case, 10 business days from the time the appraisal is discussed with the employee.

After the appraisal is delivered and finalized, then what?

Managers are expected to provide useful feedback on a regular basis to employees regarding performance in comparison to expectation and follow through on commitments made to the employee during the appraisal discussion. Some managers schedule a mid-year informal appraisal discussion, no documentation required.  When giving feedback, use specific and recent examples as much as possible.

  • Sustaining feedback: Reinforces that performance is meeting or exceeding expectations and encourages more of the same.
  • Development feedback: Acknowledges performance fully meets expectations and encourages a stretch to the next level.
  • Corrective feedback: Explains a gap between performance and expectation and re-communicates expectation. The quicker that corrective feedback is given, the quicker an employee can make the desired change.

Employees are encouraged to ask for feedback if they are uncertain of how their performance is perceived by their manager or if they need to better understand an expectation.  Employees are also encouraged to give feedback to their managers on how their manager can better support them.

Example:  When you told us about process change X at the staff meeting and told us that was our chance to give feedback before it was implemented, I felt like I needed more time to process my thoughts.  When the next process change comes up, is there a way that you can give us the information and then let us think about it for a day or two before we give feedback?