The engagement survey team continues to make progress with the findings of our employee engagement survey. As you may recall, one of the major institutional recommendations for improvement centered on performance management. We are pleased to report that we, with the input of staff and faculty, have developed an action plan to address areas of interest and concern.

The engagement survey team organized a series of meetings this past spring for interested staff and faculty. In the first round of meetings, participants had an opportunity to review the data, identify areas for improvement, and prioritize where to start. In the second round of meetings, participants reviewed the emerging priorities and brainstormed ideas for improvement. We had excellent turnouts in Vermont and California with many rich conversations. The survey team reviewed all notes and the following areas emerged as priorities:

  • Enhancing onboarding
  • Addressing compensation
  • Improving the APS instrument
  • Improving how we manage for performance

For detailed information regarding the full plan, click here.

Highlights of the plan are outlined below:


It was widely agreed that an effective onboarding process should help new hires to adjust to the institution, clarify the social and performance aspects of their jobs, and position them for success. Human Resources, as well as each department, has a role to play in that process and associated activities will begin this fall.


While this was not a focus of our performance management discussions, concerns about compensation continued to arise. A fair, equitable, and competitive salary structure is critically important to the recruitment and retention of highly qualified employees. We are operating under a compensation structure established in 2007–2008. It is time to evaluate it to ensure that it meets our current needs and institutional priorities. We will begin a phased process of review beginning this fall.


There was a great deal of dissatisfaction directed at our current APS tool. With the deployment of a new Human Capital Management (HCM) technology system, we have the opportunity to develop a new tool for our annual assessments while re-evaluating what we want to evaluate. We would like to explore a competency-based model for performance evaluation, which focuses on the essential knowledge, skills and behaviors required of employees to be star performers in their respective roles.   We will pursue opportunities to enhance the process as we implement our new technology. The initial phases of this work will occur this year, with the intended target of having a new performance evaluation system in place for FY 2020.

In addition to a new tool, we plan to evaluate other types of performance assessments with initial focus on a 360-degree feedback model, a performance review model that provides a holistic view of an employee by gathering feedback from that employee’s manager, peers and direct reports.


The most significant insight garnered through this process is the need, and desire, to broaden our view of performance management. If we think about performance management as the ways in which we align the capabilities and contributions of our people throughout the year to achieve our organizational goals, it must be comprised of more than the APS process.

Particular emphasis will be directed toward professional development, initially for managers. Managers provide a crucial link in the organization between senior leadership and staff. They work to translate strategy into operations and have a critical role in ensuring the development of their staff. Accordingly, our initial efforts will focus on a professional development program for managers. Key topics will be a core set of managerial competencies, as well as the development of managers as coaches.

Thank you again to all who participated in these institutional conversations. The insight and perspective has been invaluable. We will continue to provide updates to the community as we move forward.


-Karen Miller