The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Lessons Learned From Implementing a Homegrown Performance Management System

performanceHelping our organizations manage performance is an important part of what we do as HR professionals. Organizational leaders look to us to provide direction, guidance and oversight for the performance management process. And with more and more organizations moving to competency-based performance appraisals, many of us are having to take a fresh look at our talent management strategies.

Oregon State University (OSU) recently rolled out a new, homegrown performance management system, EvalS, which automates the entire annual performance review process, from goal setting to review submittal. Prior to EvalS, OSU had no consistent system to create or maintain an annual review process. A desire to link performance to merit and ensure employees have documented reviews, especially if performance is concerning, was the catalyst for change.

Here, Dave Blake, OSU’s chief HR officer, shares some lessons he and his team learned during the development and implementation of EvalS.

Collaborate. EvalS was developed by human resources, university business centers and information services, and was built with cross functional/college support. “HR absolutely could not have done it alone,” says Blake. “The input and expertise of our partners was critical to success.”

Communicate, more than you think you should. “Despite sharing the news of the new system with all of our stakeholders in multiple ways, some people were still caught off guard by this ‘sudden’ change,” says Blake.

Consider a soft rollout. “Mandatory requirements at OSU are problematic for our community,” says Blake. “Instead of introducing the system with, ‘Here’s how you need to do performance reviews from here on out,’ our approach was to communicate the value and benefits of the new tool.” Blake and his team communicated at all levels and secured senior support from the provost’s council. Although some groups did make it mandatory, it was not “dictated” by human resources. “I think a soft rollout helped us make supporters out of critiques,” says Blake. Today, the university is at about an 80 percent adoption rate with EvalS.

Revisit the system regularly – it can’t be “one and done.” Because EvalS was developed and built in-house, Blake’s team can respond to concerns and changes quickly. “We look at the system — how it’s working, if it’s falling short and how we can make it better — on a regular basis. Nearly four years after the initial rollout, we’re still tweaking and fine-tuning.”

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Says Blake, “Talk to your peers at other institutions to find out how they do performance management. Borrow ideas, ask questions and adapt successful practices for your own institution.” An example: OSU’s HR organization adopted CUPA-HR’s Learning Framework as the basis for its own competency development.

If you’re looking to create a performance management system in house, keeping these tips in mind can help you hit the ground running.

Additional resources related to performance management:
Performance Management toolkit in CUPA-HR’s Knowledge Center
Partnering for Success: Developing a Performance Management System With a Link to Rewards
The Nuts and Bolts of a Pay-for-Performance Strategy
5 Simple Steps to Improve Performance Reviews