Part of MSU’s appeal as a residential, land-grant institution is our vast array of programs, specializations and priorities — not just for students, but for staff and faculty. This diversity makes us great, and it also requires a need for case-by-case definitions of success and achievement from unit to unit, and from person to person.
All of us working during the pandemic have experienced disruption in our duties and routines and have been required to redefine our roles, goals and accomplishments. The disruptions have occurred in many forms: unplanned shifts in personal and family needs and routines, workforce changes and university realignments, a radically updated and still unpredictable professional and social landscape. Your resilience, adaptability and growth during these times, and always, is remarkable and worthy of recognition.
One way to ensure you, your supervisor and the university are recognizing and recording your efforts is to tell your story through the Performance Excellence (PE) process. When many of us in non-supervisory, support staff roles discuss PE at MSU, we’re thinking of a supervisor-led annual review. In reality, PE encompasses an ongoing cycle of:
- Performance Planning — Goal Setting and Development Planning
- Continuous Feedback, Coaching and Development
- Annual Review — Collaborative Meeting with Employee and Supervisor Contributions
Below are suggestions for ways to engage as an employee in the PE process and tell your story with confidence.
1) Set SMART, HARD Goals and Find Ways to Measure Them
On one hand, we know each employee’s experience and accomplishments extend well beyond quantitative data and one review each year. On the other hand, we also know that specific measurements — especially those backed by accurate, numerical data — are a powerful and widely-accepted way to determine success.
One way to ensure the full picture of your story is told during the PE process is to take the lead when it comes to your own goal setting and measurement. Setting SMART, HARD goals is a great place to start. Consider the following:
- Your personal goals
- The goals of your department/unit goals
- Organization-wide goals/university strategic plan
Goals are not something that should be determined solely by a supervisor and then assigned and evaluated once a year during your review discussion or performance planning session. Generating and adapting goals throughout the year is a collaborative process and one way you can contribute toward the narrative of your achievements.
2) Track and Document Your Accomplishments
Setting and measuring goals is a great place to start, but tracking and documenting your progress toward these goals is key. Block off some time on your calendar to regularly check results, generate data and document your progress in a way that makes the most sense for you and your role. You know your work, efforts and accomplishments better than anyone else, which makes you the ideal person to collect and report out this information.
3) Schedule Regular Check-ins
In this environment of rapid change, it’s more important than ever to regularly check in with your supervisor to discuss progress, review and reevaluate goals, and receive feedback. Regular, continuous coaching allows an opportunity for you to reconnect to your unit’s and the university’s mission and ensure your goals continue to be aligned with this larger vision and objectives.
As a university, we are working to shift the perception of PE from one yearly review to a wider focus on ongoing coaching, feedback and goal setting. There’s no need to wait for your supervisor to schedule a meeting for you to touch base on these topics. You have the option of reaching out to your supervisor and setting up check-ins on a schedule that works for both of you. Even a brief 15-minute check-in can go a long way toward staying on track with goals and sharing the story of your work.
- Go to these meetings prepared, with the documented progress and accomplishments mentioned above.
- Bring questions to help guide the conversation and make the time as useful as possible for both you and your supervisor.
4) Contribute Toward Your Review
Did you know that, as support staff, you have the opportunity to contribute toward all your PE discussions and submit documentation to include along with your official review forms?
Review documentation imaged and kept on file with central HR includes your reviews (annual, probationary and interim) and performance improvement plans. You have the option to include a self-review and/or other statements along with your documents on file. In current times, that may be a COVID Impact Statement that outlines how your work has been disrupted during the past year, along with an overview of how you’ve adapted and what you’ve accomplished despite these challenges. On an ongoing basis, this may be a summary that features the data you’ve been tracking throughout the year to share specific achievements and outcomes.
- Keep it brief. Unless documenting extraordinary circumstances, a 1–2-page document will be impactful and share the story of your performance. Due to system storage limitations, submitting a large quantity of documents with your review could possibly lead to some documents being excluded from imaging.
- Reference any additional documents on the official PE forms. Include a statement within the “Employee’s comments” section of the Annual Review to “See attached ______” (e.g., self-review, list of achievements) and indicate the number of additional documents. This helps central HR know an employee wishes for those documents to be imaged alongside their review.
5) Utilize Your Resources
HR’s Organization and Professional Development (OPD) department offers online PE resources and documents geared toward both employees and supervisors that can help guide and support you in all components of the PE process. OPD is in the process of reworking this online content for greater accessibility, inclusivity and usefulness for all support staff, and we look forward to sharing these changes with you later this year.
Additional, recommended resources are listed below. Your MAU’s HR representative, central HR and OPD, and your union representatives are all available to work with you and help you share your story should you need specific guidance or assistance at any point during the PE cycle.
Navigating Difficult Conversations in Performance Excellence for Employees (30-minute elevateU virtual course)
Saving Time by Setting Goals (24-minute elevateU virtual course)
Gaining a Positive Perspective on Feedback (30-minute elevateU virtual course)