Performance Review


Performance reviews are a two-way dialogue between supervisor and employee to discuss performance over the last year and set goals for the coming year.  They are required annually and are designed to improve job quality, work performance and provide an opportunity to discuss possible development options.

New deadlines and timing

In 2018, the University of Iowa adopted a new budget model, and deans and vice presidents chose their units' annual salary cycles to begin either January 1 or July 1.  This created two annual performance review cycles.

For supervisors of employees who hold at least one position that is Merit, SEIU, or in UI Health Care, the previously established March 31 annual performance review deadline remains in effect.

Supervisors of non-bargaining Professional and Scientific employees in colleges and divisions that have selected a January 1 salary cycle have a "bridge period" to facilitate their performance review transition. The bridge period extends from April 1, 2018, to December 31, 2019. During the bridge period it is expected that all non-bargaining P&S employees will receive a performance review.

5 Tips for Performance Reviews

In 2011, the University of Iowa’s Academic Advising Center earned national recognition from the National Academic Advising Association, NACADA, for exemplary practices in performance reviews. Below are five best practices that won their office acclaim as featured in the  IowaNow article, Nationally recognized UI staff give 5 tips for performance reviews.

  • Have conversations when they aren’t required: Fuel a year-round dialogue.
  • Be transparent.
  • Create a culture of teamwork and reflection.
  • Create opportunities for growth and development.
  • Solicit feedback about the process.

Essential Elements of the Performance Review

  • A back-and-forth conversation between employee and supervisor
    • Discuss the longer term, aspirations, development, etc.
    • Discuss how the employees work relate to the units objectives and overall success.
    • Discuss resource needs, the support employee would like from supervisor.
  • Review last year’s performance
  • Set goals for the upcoming year

Roles and Responsibilities for Supervisors and Employees

The approach to planning and establishing objectives and goals involves both the employee and the supervisor. Similarly, the performance review is a collaborative meeting.

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring the employee is aware of the responsibilities including universal competencies or ICARE values of their position as may be summarized in a local job description;
  • Helping the employee understand how their work aligns with the unit goals and the university’s goals;
  • Serving as a coach and mentor to the employee in establishing goals and supporting their achievement; and
  • Creating and sustaining a healthy, respectful, and productive work environment.

Employees are responsible for:

  • Having a thorough understanding of their position responsibilities and the expectations for their performance;
  • Providing information for discussion with the supervisor relating to any changes in the current position description;
  • Providing input on their performance and development goals;
  • Understanding what constitutes “successful performance” in accomplishing objectives and goals and demonstrating institutional values;
  • Understanding how their position and goals align with and contribute to the goals of the unit and the university;
  • Communicating to the supervisor what information, resources, training, etc. may be needed to aid in their success;
  • Asking questions to clarify information; and
  • Being accountable for their own performance.

Performance Review Process

  • HR or the supervisor notifies the employee when it is time to do the self-review.
  • The employee updates their goal plan with progress notes and fills out the performance review form (P&S).
  • The Supervisor fills out the performance review form.
  • The employee and supervisor meet. During the meeting the supervisor shares his or her comments.
  • The supervisor modifies the comments if they believe it’s needed and then sends the form to the employee.
  • The employee then has an opportunity to comment and finalizes the form.

Supervisor: Preparing for the Meeting

  • Set aside private time and place for a confidential face to face meeting.
  • Ask the employee to reflect on the last year’s accomplishments and challenges and their goals for the upcoming year.
  • Think about how you want to guide this employee.
  • Consider what they are doing well, what they could do better and how they can grow in their role and in the organization.
  • One feature of the performance review tool allows supervisors to solicit feedback about an employee's performance.

Staff: Preparing for the Meeting

  • Prepare: Confirm the time and place of your evaluation. If your supervisor does not approach you about conducting a review, you can ask when the meeting will take place.
  • Review: P&S staff may want to update their goal plan and enter comments in their performance review (these are private at this stage.) All staff could consider:
    • Describe your goals/areas of emphasis for the past year.
    • List your significant accomplishments from the past year.
    • What were key obstacles in accomplishing your job responsibilities?
    • What goals do you have for the next review period?
    • What support do you need to achieve these goals? How can your supervisor help you be more effective?
    • In what areas do you plan to grow and develop? How will you achieve this?
  • Reflect: Consider your performance over the past year on all facets of your position. Have you been successful based on the criteria established?

Performance Review Forms

FileMerit Self-Review Template

Performance Review Period

The UI performance year begins on April 1 and ends on March 31 the following year (e.g. April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017). Annual performance reviews (or an update to the annual review) must be completed before March 31 of each year.

Frequently Asked Questions

In an ideal work situation, coaching takes place every day. The performance review form should incorporate steps and goals that have been decided over the last twelve months. A written performance review, with a face-to-face discussion, should take place once a year.

The performance review document is a visible part of a larger performance management process. If the process is not in place, simply completing a form is unlikely to change behavior or results.

Evaluate your attitude towards your employees.

Effective supervisors:

  • Treat employees as a valuable resource with untapped potential;
  • Believe that people want to excel;
  • Empower people through counseling, guidance and support; and
  • See performance review as a means to develop employee potential.

Conflict advice:

  • Establish your goals.
  • Make clear that your purpose is not to judge or criticize but to improve performance.
  • When dealing with substandard performance, be specific regarding changes needed and what will be considered acceptable performance.
  • Ask for the employee's help in solving the problem.
  • Ask the employee questions to better understand the level of performance.
  • Don't assume you have all the answers.
  • Encourage the employee to work toward solutions.
  • Help build solutions.
  • Identify ways to create specific improvement.
  • Plan to meet in the future to check progress. Create a plan for follow up and stick to it.
  • Document plans and agreements.

Your immediate supervisor or your primary supervisor in a situation where there is more than one supervisor.