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K-State Today

July 17, 2020

University allows flexibility for mid-year and annual reviews of USS and unclassified professional staff

Submitted by Human Capital Services

Kansas State University's performance management processes for unclassified professional staff and university support staff employees are unique and distinct, designed to be a continuous process. Supervisors and employees work together to establish objectives, monitor progress toward these objectives and assess results. Reviews/evaluations also provide an opportunity for professional growth, enhance commitment to fostering excellence at K-State, identify performance expectations, and provide feedback to the employee through ongoing communication. The question arises, how do we continue the formal pieces of that process amid the challenges that we have right now? 

The effects of the COVID-19 crisis are felt across the university. We are consistently working in a state of fluidity. Employees and supervisors are facing unprecedented professional and personal challenges during this pandemic. These include changes in daily critical tasks or expectations, working from home and dealing with "safer at home" orders, limited technology resources and potential illness among family and friends. Some employees were on administrative leave and/or furlough when remote work was not possible or the crisis altered the unit's needs. On top of these conditions, many of our employees are impacted in serious ways by recent events related to racial injustice that call to mind past and present trauma.  

In consultation with the Professional Staff Affairs Committee and University Support Staff Senate, Human Capital Services has recommended and the university has decided to offer flexibility to annual evaluation requirements for USS and unclassified professional staff through calendar year 2020. Please note that this announcement applies only to USS and unclassified professional evaluations. Information on faculty evaluations for FY 2021 will be forthcoming in the next week. 

During these uncertain times it is crucial we do as much as possible to help reduce our employees' stress and anxiety. Effective immediately through December 2020, formal mid-year and annual reviews will not be required but may still be completed. Departments/units should make that determination. Supervisors and employees in those departments/units should consult together on what makes the most sense for them based on what their department/unit chooses to do. Further guidance pertaining to the 2021 calendar year will be forthcoming.

If an evaluation is not completed for this time period, HCS recommends supervisors notify employees and make note on current calendar year evaluations as follows:

"Due to the COVID-19 crisis in the spring/summer of 2020, the university suspended requirements for mid-year and annual reviews."

Although the university has offered this flexibility for departments to render formal evaluations, it is highly encouraged that all supervisors initiate regular check-ins with their employees to cultivate engagement and share expectations.

  • During check-ins, Employee Relations and Engagement recommends giving the employee "feedforward" by focusing on what is working now and what can be done better in the future. Using the "feedforward" method to communicate with direct reports may alleviate undue stress usually associated with performance reviews/evaluation.
  • Supervisors may find helpful this 10-minute Check-In Conversation Guide resource provided by HCS as a guide to facilitate meaningful conversation. 
  • Supervisors may also capture employee achievements during the period of limited operations and remote work by placing a memo or letter in their department's personnel file. 
  • Supervisors are encouraged to document and contact HCS Employee Relations and Engagement for guidance concerning employee disciplinary or ongoing performance issues/questions.