Performance Review SOP

To be read in conjunction with

Corporate Policy – Performance Review

Approval Date
31 January 2008
Approved By
Chief Executive
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety

Performance Review is part of the wider performance management process and is integrated with other processes including staff induction, workload planning, staff development planning, resolving performance issues, and recognition and rewards.

The performance review process is intended to foster open communication, creating an atmosphere that allows a candid approach to discussions about performance. During the new review period, the supervisor and employee discuss the employee’s performance on an ongoing basis until it is time for the next formal review. This communication is part of the ongoing process of observation and feedback.

Refer to Practice Note 2 re Performance Review as an ongoing process.

Formal performance review discussions provide the opportunity for:

  • employees to receive feedback regarding their work performance
  • employees to give feedback on barriers to them performing their job effectively
  • the identification and recognition of achievements
  • the identification of development needs and development plans

Performance Review is to be carried out in accordance with these Procedures.

1           Scheduling the Review
The Formal Leader must schedule time for the formal performance review process for all employees subject to review, providing notice in writing of at least one month of the preliminary meeting each year.

2           Designating the Reviewer

2.1           The Formal Leader shall designate a reviewer for each employee who is to undertake a formal review. The reviewer will usually be the person who has supervisory responsibility for the employee ie the person to whom the employee is accountable for their usual duties.

  • For academic staff – the reviewer will usually be the Programme Head or equivalent role
  • For Programme Heads – the reviewer will usually be the Head of College.
  • For general staff – the reviewer will usually be the Head of College, Service Formal Leader, or the Team Leader where appropriate.
  • Heads of College will be reviewed by the Group Formal Leader, and Service Formal Leaders will be reviewed by the relevant Leadership Team member.
  • Leadership Team members will be reviewed by the Chief Executive.

2.2           In designating reviewers, the Formal Leader will endeavour to ensure that each reviewer is responsible for no more than 10 reviews per year.

2.3           Where an employee is deployed to two or more departments and/or has accountabilities to more than one Formal Leader the reviewer shall be either: the Formal Leader of the department in which the greater proportion of work is performed, or, if the duties are split equally, the respective Formal Leaders will agree on who is to conduct the review, taking into account their respective review workloads. This agreement should be made at the time of deployment.

The Formal Leader who conducts the review shall obtain written feedback on performance from the other Formal Leader(s) prior to conducting the review; and shall confer with the other Formal Leader(s) prior to making any recommendations regarding salary review or promotion.

3           Familiarity with Policy and Procedures
Formal Leaders are required to be knowledgeable about the Performance Review policy and accompanying Procedures and Practice Notes, and to draw these to the attention of each employee at the time the performance review is scheduled, or at the preliminary meeting (see below).

4           Process

Performance Review is a four-step process:

  • Preliminary Meeting
  • Preparation
  • Review Meeting
  • Post Meeting Recommendations

Step 1. Preliminary Meeting
The reviewer and employee formally meet to clarify the review process and to agree what will be needed to support the review (e.g. documentation and information) and who will be responsible for providing these inputs. Generally, the following inputs will be needed to conduct a meaningful review:

  • Current position description – including the relevant Profile and Expectations schedule. The “key accountabilities” in the position description will be used to populate the online review template and will be the basis of the review. For academic staff and Formal Leaders, a standard set of accountabilities will pre-populate the template leaving only individual-specific accountabilities to be added. Currently, for general staff all accountabilities will be derived from the position description (see also Practice Note 2).  Note: A current, up-to-date Position Description for every employee is a legal requirement under New Zealand law.
  • Up-to-date Curriculum Vitae (it is recommended that the standard on-line CV be used, as posted on Insite. There are standard CVs for academic and general staff).
  • Current Individual Development Plan.
  • Evidence of accomplishments/achievements, including as appropriate:

Academic Staff

  • Formal Leader/supervisor feedback
  • peer/teaching observations
  • learner evaluations
  • peer/stakeholder feedback
  • research outputs and other artefacts of teaching, research, leadership, or consultancy
  • evidence of completion of outcomes of previous review and IPP

Note: Academic staff are referred to the evidential requirements for promotion, posted on Polybase.

General Staff 

  • Formal Leader/supervisor feedback
  • peer/stakeholder feedback
  • “customer” feedback
  • evidence of completion of outcomes of previous review and IPP

HOS/Formal Leaders     

  • 360-degree feedback
  • “other” feedback
  • Business Plan outcomes
  • Evidence of completed outcomes of previous review and IPP.

Note: The recommendations arising from the performance review must be supported by appropriate evidence. Refer to Practice Note 4.

Step 2. Preparation         

  • The reviewer and staff member assemble the inputs, as agreed, and provide/make these available to each other.
  • Based on the evidence available, the employee completes the self-review using the online review template which by now has been populated with the key accountabilities (this can be downloaded and completed in hard copy if appropriate). The reviewer completes the supervisor review, again using the online review template.
  • Each party completes their written input and makes this available to the other at least 3 clear working days prior to the review meeting.

Step 3. Review Meeting(s)
The reviewer and employee meet to evaluate the performance of the employee.

The reviewer provides feedback on the employee’s performance, specifically - areas that are going well and areas for improvement.

The reviewer and employee discuss the areas for improvement and agree on actions.

The reviewer is responsible for documenting the conclusions from the review (i.e. assessment of performance and recommended actions) using the online template.

Where the employee and reviewer cannot agree on an aspect of performance or recommended action, this should be noted in the review documentation and each party should enter their own assessment and recommended action. The employee may then exercise their right of appeal, if appropriate.

The employee and reviewer each sign off the review. If the Performance Review System in Inform is not used the reviewer must ensure that a copy of the signed off review documentation is forwarded to People and Culture.

Step 4. Post Meeting Recommendations and Actions

  • Salary Review/Promotion

The Formal Leader shall make a recommendation to the Salary Review and Promotions Committee using Form PR1 Appendix 1. The recommendation is to be supported by a hard copy of the completed review template and appropriate supporting evidence.

With regard to salary the Formal Leader may recommend:

  • That an annual increment be withheld, supported by evidence of unsatisfactory performance
  • That the employee remain on the existing salary
  • That an accelerated increment be granted, where the employee is paid on a grade which has annual increments
  • That an increase be granted within the range of rates applicable to the employee
  • That the employee be promoted to a higher grade

A copy of Form PR1 is to be forwarded to People and Culture.

  • The Formal Leader ensures that an updated copy of the employee’s position description is forwarded to People and Culture.
  • The Employee shall incorporate agreed development objectives into their Individual Development Plan.



These Practice Notes provide guidelines for good practice in the conduct of performance reviews.

1           Principles
Performance review is an ongoing process and should be embedded in the day-to-day activities of the Formal Leader and Employee. The requirement for a formal performance review process is to ensure that the employee’s contributions, achievements and requirements for development are recorded, and appropriate actions are taken with respect to recognition and reward, to development planning, to maintaining the currency of the position description, and to improving organisational effectiveness. To this end the following principles are central to the conduct of a formal performance review:

  • No Surprises

Performance reviews are to be a no-surprise situation, i.e. issues with performance should be raised as they occur, not “saved up” for performance review meetings.

  • Performance reviews will be balanced

Areas of excellence as well as areas for improvement will be identified.

  • Development focus

Performance reviews will focus on developing work performance and individual effectiveness, and on guiding staff in their career development.

  • Individual circumstances will be considered

Individual circumstances including family responsibilities, cultural/community responsibilities, professional responsibilities, and personal preferences will be considered.

  • Work context will be acknowledged and considered

An opportunity must be provided within the performance review to identify factors which influence and in particular constitute barriers to effective performance.

2           Performance Review is an Ongoing Process
Formal performance review can be daunting and time-consuming, particularly so when undertaken for the first time, and also if it is regarded as an “event” with preparation left until the event is about to occur. Therefore, employees are advised to plan well in advance, taking advantage of the online tools designed to record and verify achievements.

Performance review must be evidence based i.e. it is not about what people think or feel about how well an employee has performed – it is about what they have achieved, and how well they have achieved it. Gathering and assembling evidence of performance takes time, but this need not be a burden if it is seen as part and parcel of regular work routines. To this end, the following is strongly recommended:

1)              Maintain a current CV

  • an online CV is available for both academic and general staff. This can be completed initially at any time and updated regularly as achievements occur

2)              Seek feedback regularly

  • standard feedback instruments are available for academic staff and will soon be available for general staff.

3)              Maintain a performance review folder (or portfolio)

  • this is a simple case of filing records of feedback, achievements, etc as they occur. This constitutes the evidence base for the performance review.

3           Performance Review is to be Comprehensive
The review should cover all aspects of the employee’s position and should take into account both what the employee has achieved (outcomes) and how well the employee has carried out their duties (process) e.g. good outcomes achieved by poor process would, overall, constitute unsatisfactory performance, or vice versa.

Comprehensiveness is achieved by ensuring that all of the key accountabilities from the position description are considered. However, comprehensiveness does not mean excessive attention to the details of the position, other than by exception.

Related to comprehensiveness is the currency of the position description. Care must be taken to include in the review any accountabilities not yet recorded as part of the formal position description; and to delete those accountabilities which are no longer relevant.

4           Guidelines for Gathering and Interpreting Evidence.

(i)       General – All Staff

  • The promotion/salary review decision must be evidenced based. The evidence on which the decision is based must be:
  • Credible – collected from appropriate qualified and experienced sources; and for learner  and colleague survey feedback, collected through independent parties, with confidentiality assured to those providing feedback
  • Valid – supporting the key dimension of performance related to the selected criteria. Valid evidence reveals the quality of performance, not merely activity
  • Reliable – collected from multiple sources and from those who have direct experience of the staff member's work
  • Sufficient – so that a reasonable conclusion about performance can be drawn.
  • Evidence of performance in the relevant criteria will usually have been collected over three  years and will be analysed and reflected upon. Gaps in evidence should be explained and verified. Evidence gathered in the course of employment in another tertiary institution is acceptable provided that evidence has been collected in a manner consistent with Otago Polytechnic Limited’s requirements.
  • Feedback instruments used to collect evidence to support salary review or promotion must be Otago Polytechnic Limited’s standard instruments or an approved variation. Standard instruments are available for learner feedback and colleague feedback

(ii)            Learner Feedback – Academic Staff

  • Learner feedback to support teaching performance is mandatory and must be representative of the teaching undertaken by the Lecturer. If no learner feedback is available a salary review or promotion cannot proceed.
  • Learner feedback must be collected and summarised through an independent party in line with standard Otago Polytechnic Limited processes, not directly by the applicant. Learners must be assured of their anonymity.
  • Sufficient learner feedback must be gathered, to ensure that a reasonable conclusion about teaching performance can be drawn. This will usually be from each type of class taught, e.g. theory and practical, distance and face to face, full time, and part time; with a 75% response expected from small classes (up to 20); 50% response from large classes (over 20). Lower response rates require explanation.
  • Lecturers are advised to address carefully in their self-review significant negative feedback or explain particular contexts in which learner feedback has been less than supportive. In such cases it is helpful to have corroborating statements, e.g. from a HOS/HOP, Programme Head.

(iii)          Customer Feedback – General Staff              

  • Customer feedback to support customer service performance is mandatory for all general staff and must be representative of the „customers‟ of the applicant. Otago Polytechnic Limited staff from different departments to the applicant are considered as customers.
  • Customer feedback must be collected and summarised via the Customer Feedback Survey on Insite, not directly by the applicant. Customers must be assured of their anonymity.
  • Sufficient customer feedback must be gathered to ensure that a reasonable conclusion about customer services performance can be drawn. A minimum of 5 completed responses is required.

(iv)          Colleague Feedback – All Staff

  • Colleague feedback to support leadership is mandatory for those academic staff who have chosen “Leadership and Service” as their career path, and where leadership is being exercised in formal contexts, e.g. Programme Head. The standard feedback form covers this dimension. In these situations feedback is expected from all colleagues for whom the staff member has leadership responsibilities.
  • Colleague feedback is mandatory as evidence of teamwork in all cases and of leadership effectiveness where the leadership is being exercised in informal contexts. The standard feedback form also covers these dimensions.
  • Feedback from acknowledged authorities, leaders, experts, or specialists (internal to Otago Polytechnic Limited or external) is expected in support of claims being made by applicants of specialist skills and expertise, or national/international recognition, e.g. curriculum, research, community service. This feedback will usually be by way of a referee report.
  • Colleagues will generally be people with whom the applicant works on a regular basis (or has worked on a project or Committee, either internal to Otago Polytechnic Limited or external) and who have been able to observe how the applicant goes about their work.
  • Colleague feedback gathered by way of standard survey must be collected through an independent party, not directly by the staff member. Respondents must be assured of their anonymity.
  • Colleague feedback which is in the nature of „referee‟ reports will be from named and credible parties. These referees shall be provided the option of forwarding a confidential report directly to the Formal Leader or the Reviewer.
  • Feedback must be sufficient to enable reasonable conclusions to be drawn, with the appropriate sample of colleagues agreed between the Reviewer and the staff member. At least four (4) colleagues should be included in any general survey; and as a general guide all team members should be requested to provide feedback.

(v)            Self-Review – All Staff

Self-review is expected in the form of a personal statement in which the staff member addresses their performance in each of the criteria relevant to their chosen career path. For academic staff, an overall reflective statement should provide insight into the staff members personal theory of effective teaching, research, leadership, service, or consultancy practice, as appropriate. The statement should reveal how the staff member has engaged with the scholarship of teaching, research leadership, consultancy, or service.

(vi)          Other Evidence – All Staff

Whilst feedback data is an essential form of evidence, so too are the staff member’s accomplishments as measured by meeting targets, producing resources, reports, creative works, publications, conference keynotes, presentations and workshops, awards etc. The Reviewer must be satisfied that such evidence exists and is the staff member’s own work.

(vii)         Interpreting Evidence

The Reviewer is required to reach a decision having weighed up all of the evidence available. Given the subjective nature of feedback processes, undue weight should not be given to occasional negative feedback, especially where this is at variance with the overall performance.


Learner Feedback – Academic Staff
In interpreting learner feedback the Reviewer is expected to focus on trends and patterns. As a general guide:

  • A feedback profile, which shows the majority (e.g. 80%) of learners find the teaching to be satisfactory, is expected. This would not support a promotion decision.
  • A feedback profile as above, but also with a high proportion (e.g. 50% or more) of learners finding the teaching to be more than satisfactory will be indicative of advanced performance.
  • A feedback profile with 80% or more of learners finding the teaching to be more than satisfactory will be indicative of outstanding or excellent performance.
  • Negative feedback in excess of 10% of respondents will be indicative of problems with teaching effectiveness. Negative feedback in excess of 20% of respondents would suggest unsatisfactory performance.
  • More weight should be given to recent feedback, especially where the feedback shows an improving trend over a sustained period of time.
  • Where a staff member has been employed by Otago Polytechnic Limited for several years the Reviewer should be looking for evidence that reflects a commitment to ongoing professional development, rather than mere compliance with promotion requirements. Due weight should be given where negative feedback has been responded to and improvements made.

Customer Feedback – General Staff
Customer feedback should support all areas of customer services. For example

  • Relationships and Customers Services must be maintained and developed over a prolonged period.
  • Problem solving skills demonstrate the ability to find solutions which are relevant and sustainable. Knowledge is constantly being expanded to provide a comprehensive service and demonstrate a commitment to self-development.

Colleague Feedback- All Staff
Colleague feedback to support the criteria subject to review must be provided. The Reviewer should be satisfied this feedback is from people who themselves have the skills and experience to comment credibly on the staff member’s performance. For example:

  • An acknowledged successful researcher should be providing qualitative feedback on research expertise.
  • Those providing feedback on teaching quality should themselves be recognised as excellent teachers, e.g. already promoted to Principal Lecturer; or an experienced and successful Senior Lecturer.
  • Those providing feedback on “Leadership and Service” should themselves be recognised as having relevant expertise with regard to the services being performed.

The Reviewer should be satisfied that colleague feedback identifies and affirms that feedback indicates excellent performance.

Research – Academic Staff
When weighing up the quality of research performance the Reviewer should look for evidence of recognition by peers and give due weight to reputation, i.e. Polytechnic wide, national, and international standing.

Leadership and Service – Academic, but relevant to General Staff
When weighing up the quality of contributions to “Leadership and Service” the Reviewer should be satisfied that these contributions are significant and go further than mere attendance at committee and board meetings.

Leadership for the purposes of promotion does not always mean leadership of group endeavour. It can be contribution to a group development or individual creative effort recognised by others as contributing towards group or organisational goals, improvement to systems or to the work of others within the Polytechnic.

All staff in their daily work demonstrate leadership with learners and colleagues, but it is when activities go beyond typical expectations of contribution that the case for promotion gains weight.

NB: All Staff

In all cases, evidence must be interpreted in the context of the staff member’s current role, and whether or not promotion to a higher grade is being contemplated. The Polytechnic’s expectations increase as staff progress through the career structures – both as to the breadth and depth of skills and to the leadership expected. Thus, for example, Senior Lecturers must be evaluated for their performance as Senior Lecturers, and “excellence” is related to the expectations of Senior Lecturers. For general staff, promotion to the “Expert/Specialist” grade requires staff to be evaluated against the standards associated with being a specialist in a field, or otherwise an expert in that area of work.

5           Tips for Ensuring Effective Reviews
(synthesised from our training workshops)

  • Reviewer
  • Schedule in the review to allow plenty of time for the staff member to prepare, including collecting evidence data. Recommended timescale at least 2 weeks.
  • Set aside quality time to conduct the review – no interruptions/distractions. Consider a neutral place.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff – focus on aspects of performance which really make a difference.
  • Take advantage of the training available – it is the reviewer’s responsibility to acquire the skills and knowledge to conduct a fair and constructive review.
  • Staff Member            
  • Maintain an ongoing portfolio of accomplishments and achievements and establish a regular update for obtaining colleague and learner/client feedback. Regularly update your CV.
  • A little bit of work, regularly, will prevent the process becoming a time burden.
  • Conduct a realistic self-review – in terms of what you do, how you do it and the results you get – take notice of the feedback you are receiving from colleagues, learners, and clients.
  • Take advantage of the training available – being clear about the Polytechnic’s requirements will minimise the possibilities for misunderstandings and procedural errors.
  • Both Parties
  • Become familiar with the Performance Review Policy and Procedures.
  • Be really clear at the start of the review process what is being reviewed, and what information will be relied on to inform the outcomes of the review.
  • Prepare adequately, i.e. analyse, reflect on, and draw conclusions from the information available.
  • Be open and honest and at the same time respectful with each other – with a commitment to the review as a constructive process with positive outcomes
  • Be good listeners – most performance review “issues” arise from poor communications.

6           Tips on Giving Feedback
(Acknowledgement to The PH Factor)

Feedback is usually intended to provide direction for the future, or in some cases re-direction. It also can act as a mirror to help employees see how their performance is viewed, and to increase their awareness about the impact of their behaviour on others. Finally, feedback is like a „check‟ against what is expected in the job and what is actually being delivered.

For feedback to have maximum benefit, there are a few simple principles to remember:

(i)              Provide feedback about observed behaviour, not the person
Feedback needs to be directed towards actual behaviour, rather than inferences about personality, or personality traits. For instance, “you arrived late for that critical meeting”, rather than “you’re irresponsible”, or “the report you gave me contained some factual errors”, rather than “you’re sloppy”. Focus on what was said and done, rather than making judgements, or passing opinions. Avoid personal attack or put-downs at all costs!

(ii)            Be specific rather than general.
Give particular examples, rather than generalising, whether they are global1 positives, or global negatives. Feedback tied to particular times and events is more helpful than vague comments. For instance, “I thought you did a very good job with that learner” doesn’t provide as much information as a comment like “I noticed how you paid attention to that learner and made sure you really understood what they needed”.

(iii)          Choose one or two things the person can act on.
People can usually only act on a few pieces of feedback at a time. Assuming that some follow up is built into the process concentrate on the key areas that would benefit from the most improvement, rather than presenting a raft of suggestions for improvement.

(iv)          Be descriptive, rather than evaluative
In providing descriptive information, rather than evaluative, you are less likely to produce a sense of threat or attack. Providing instances of your response to the behaviour can also bring the focus back to the impact or effects of a person’s behaviour. For instance, saying “You shouldn’t have done that” or “it’s wrong to just ask a learner for an opinion when they haven’t got their hands up” is less effective than saying “I’d feel uncomfortable in that situation myself”!

(v)            When giving criticism, seek solutions, rather than commenting on personality. „you’re getting far too many complains from members of the public recently. What the heck’s the matter with you?‟ is very unhelpful. Instead say: „You seem to be getting complaints from members of the public in your section at the moment. Do you know what the problem is?‟

(vi)          Check for understanding and acceptance
Check to see how much your feedback has been understood and accepted. Ask questions like “can you see what I mean by this example”, or “do you understand what I’m saying”.

1 This is sometimes described as the “Halo” or “Horns” effect

Finally, remember the five2 building blocks or key principles of emotional intelligence:

1.          Self-awareness, or knowing one’s emotions, including your own trigger points. Know what your “hot buttons” are, and continually build your own level of self-understanding.

2.          This leads to the next principle of managing emotions. This includes practising patience, handling your own irritability when something seems very obvious to you but not to others, or shaking off negative feelings and resentment. This is a critical behavioural trait for the effective Formal Leader.

3.          Self-Motivation, which builds on the second principle, and includes the ability to „bounce back‟ from apparent setbacks and mastering the discipline of focus to achieve the desired outcomes.

4.          Empathy, or feeling how others feel and responding appropriately. The ability to „read other’s feelings‟ is a very valuable trait in a Formal Leader.

5.          Building (and valuing) relationships. This is what has been called the area of social competence and encompasses sensitivity to others concerns and the ability to communicate and maintain a sense of connection.