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Campus Climate Task Force subcommittee seeks to improve annual evaluation process


In 2014, Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Pam Benoit established the Campus Climate Task Force to evaluate information resulting from the Modern Think 2014 Great Colleges Survey and formulate actionable recommendations.

The CCTF reviewed the survey results with a Modern Think representative to gain an understanding of the overarching themes. There were 15 core dimensions contained within the survey that upon review revealed several areas where employees as a whole reported favorable results as well as areas of widespread concern.

The CCTF then undertook an in-depth analysis of the data. Goals were established to:

  • Communicate openly and regularly through a variety of vehicles
  • Seek further information and input from the University community to enhance our understanding of the campus climate to guide any recommendations
  • Have a strong orientation toward action

The CCTF issued their report and three new sub-committees were formed to implement the recommendations noted in three keys areas of University-wide internal communications, senior leadership/strategic direction and professional development/departmental leadership.

The focus of this communication is on recommendations made in the Professional Development and Departmental Leadership area specific to annual evaluation process. The recommendations were as follows:

Human Resources should work with units to improve annual employee evaluations so that they can be used to inform compensation and employment decisions.

  • [High Potential] Human Resources should work with units to develop and implement an evaluation verification process to ensure all classified and administrative positions have at least annual evaluations in their personnel files. The reality is that many University employees are not evaluated annually and it is therefore not surprising that many of them view merit-based compensation plans cynically. Responsibility for conducting evaluations lies with supervisors, but HR and the HR Liaisons could assist units to implement evaluation processes and track compliance. 
  • [High Potential] Human Resources should seek and/or develop, then implement, a training initiative for classified and administrative staff and their supervisors/managers/ team leads focused on effective and informative employee evaluations. The reality is that many University employees have not been evaluated effectively, and it is therefore not surprising that many of them view merit-based compensation plans cynically. Performance evaluation will only be effective if employees and their supervisors have shared expectations for how they will be conducted and used. 
  • [Ongoing] Units should consider widespread implementation of 360 degree feedback as part of the evaluation process. The same survey software that is used for online student evaluations can be used to gather anonymous feedback from an employee’s peers, clients, and reports. The Russ College uses such a survey to provide information to supervisors for use in annual evaluations. Employee evaluation should include self-analysis and should consider the position description as well as individual goal-setting.


The Performance Management sub-team of the Campus Climate Task Force (Luanne Bowman, Wendy Rogers, and Lewis Mangen) met regularly with a cross-functional Steering Committee of campus leaders from January 2016 through March 2017.

The team designed and piloted a new approach to performance management that included ongoing performance feedback and development, manager and employee training, increased supervisor confidence in addressing performance concerns, and simple, user-friendly forms and processes.

The team was also tasked with guiding the development of a new campus-wide approach to performance management to address concerns raised in the Campus Climate Survey as well as other concerns from leadership and employees that included new processes, forms and training.

The development of a campus-wide approach to performance management was designed in three phases:

Phase 1 - Complete – Create performance management training, design new process with simplified forms, pilot new process and forms with a cross functional group of academic and support units. New process only applies to administrative employees in the first year so we can explore the best way to make connections between pay and performance.

Phase 2 – Underway - Adjust performance management process and forms based on learning from the Administrative pilot group. Expand new streamlined process to Administrative employees in remainder of academic and support units. Create a pilot group to streamline performance management for classified staff.

Phase 3 – FY2019 – Make final adjustments to process based on learning from the classified pilot group. Explore system options for automating and streamlining administrative components of the performance management process.

Phase 1 – COMPLETED – Highlights include:

  • Guidelines and desired outcomes for a common performance management process for all administrative employees are in place.
  • Results from a pre- and post-pilot survey, which included approximately 300 administrative employees from five planning units, have been reviewed and analyzed.
  • A new modular training approach was developed and administered for all pilot supervisors. Training was highly rated, scoring an average of 4.5/5.0 on “eager to apply content” and “good use of time”. 
  • New streamlined forms and tip sheets have been developed and will be used consistently for all Administrative staff in the 2017-2018 performance cycle.
  • Guidelines for performance calibration have been created to help managers understand and apply ratings more consistently.
  • Discussion planner templates and space for recording “check-in” dates on the performance evaluation form are being used to encourage more frequent performance feedback and alignment of efforts with goals.

Summary of Pilot Survey Results

All administrative employees in the pilot group were invited to participate in a baseline and a follow-up survey so that changes in perceptions, behaviors and confidence as a result of the pilot could be measured and reported. Highlights include:

  • Percent of employees who felt the year-end evaluation provided useful information more than doubled
  • Percent of employees who felt the year-end evaluation form was simple and easy to understand increased by 64 percent
  • Percent of employees who frequently discussed goals and expectations with supervisors went from 31 to 65 percent
  • Percent of employees receiving regular performance feedback went from 45 to almost 70 percent
  • Supervisor confidence in handling key performance management responsibilities increased more than 25 percent
  • Percent of supervisors able to prepare for year-end evaluations in 30 minutes or less increased by 77 percent
  • Percent of supervisors able to write year-end evaluations in 30 minutes or less increased by 65 percent

The performance management survey included several questions from the campus climate survey, so the pilot survey data were also used to project changes in Campus Climate Survey results if the larger campus community was exposed to the new performance management process with the same degree of success.

Based on percentage changes in survey responses from the pilot group (post v. pre survey), projected changes in campus climate survey responses to the same questions are shown below:

Actual Climate Survey Results