COVID-19: Supervisor Guide to Performance Assessment

Here are a few thoughts and ideas to guide you through the process of performance management discussions with an employee during a turbulent or disrupted time such as the one we face now due to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Reflect back on the last several months during the COVID-19 response and set reasonable expectations.
    If adjustments have been made to the work arrangement, determine what is a reasonable workload under this arrangement and how can you measure effectiveness.
  2. Be honest about the situation while also being kind, thoughtful, and constructive.
    Employees are contending with the pandemic on many fronts not just as work. Provide honest feedback in an effort to adjust and address work-related issues. We continue to ask you to acknowledge an employee’s experience, be as flexible as possible, and engage in a dialog to establish work arrangements and set expectations that serve both the employee and the university.  
  3. Engage in a discussion about supervision.
    Invite your employees to provide feedback on the supervision you provide, your communication style, and your leadership practices to learn more about compatibility and opportunities for improvement. A successful and productive supervisory relationship takes into consideration the needs and preferences of both the supervisor and the employee to establish commonality and set expectations.
  4. Celebrate and document achievements.
    The challenges and disruptions during difficult times can often overshadow the successes and unexpected achievements that occur along the way. Recognizing and applauding an employee’s contributions is as important as constructive feedback, if not more so, particularly in a year when merit pay increases are not available. Intentional and deliberate acknowledgement of accomplishments that becomes part of the documented performance record provides motivation and reassures the employee that their hard work is noticed and valued.
  5. Revisit pre-COVID goals to adjust and reset as necessary.
    The goals set prior to the pandemic may be off track or even off the table. Take the time to have a conversation with your employees about goal setting. Share the goals and objectives of the team, department, and unit under current operations based on institutional needs, and identify any changes that should be applied to individual goals. Consider setting goals for smaller increments of time, 3 months or 6 months, rather than yearly based. Keep in mind that including reasonable goals that are not associated with the COVID-19 response help employees remember that their contributions are linked to more than our immediate circumstances and give them something post-pandemic related to think about.
  6. Leverage the employee performance assessment guidance.
    Ask employees to apply the tool kit to their current experience so you can engage in a meaningful conversation. Utilizing these tools provides a way to compare their assessment to yours and gain insight into the employee’s point of view.