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Faculty Performance Reviews

Questions to Help Achieve Discussion During the Interview

Use open-ended questions to get the conversation going. Here are some questions which avoid "YES-NO" responses and help to promote conversation.
  1. What have been your successes in teaching, research, service, and outreach over the last year?
  2. In what areas could you improve?
  3. What ideas do you have for further developing your career?
  4. What have been the most difficult problems that you have faced?
  5. Where do you see your future in unit, profession?
  6. How do you see this position developing?

Criteria for Constructive Feedback

  • Specific rather than general.
  • Tentative rather than absolute. "You seem unconcerned." rather than, "You don't give a darn."
  • Informing rather than ordering. "I haven't finished yet." rather than, "Stop interrupting me."
  • Behavior descriptions: Reporting specific acts of the other that affect you.
  • Descriptions of your own feelings.
  • Your perceptions of others' actions. "I thought you weren't interested in understanding my idea."
  • It is directed toward behavior which the receiver can do something about.
  • It is asked for rather than imposed. "I would like for you to ..." rather than, "You will do it this way."
  • It is checked to insure clear communication. "What you're saying is..."

Confronting Continued Performance Issues

Step 1: Opening the meeting - state what you've observed

  • State the purpose of the meeting
    • "I have a concern that..."
    • "I feel I need to let you know..."
    • "I want to discuss..."
    • "I have some thoughts about..."

Step 2: Wait for a response - getting agreement

  • A key concept here is getting faculty member agreement. If she/he doesn't agree that a problem exists, it is unlikely that there will be a change in performance.
  • Cite specific examples
    • "I've noticed that..."
    • "I've observed this problem several times."
    • "As discussed in our last performance review meeting..."
  • Clarify consequences (both natural and imposed)
    • Natural (Understanding the results or outcome of what he or she is doing wrong or failing to do right) - "If this continues, you will continue to have high turnover of your research assistants."
    • Imposed (Understanding the consequences to him or herself if there is no change.) - "If your performance records continues on this trajectory, I will not be able to recommend you for promotion."

Step 3: Remind them of the goal:

  • Refer to past reviews, unit criteria, or individual career plan

Step 4: Ask for specific solutions - discuss alternatives - get commitment to act

  • Mutually discuss alternative causes
  • Analyzing the cause(s)
    • lack of knowledge or skill
    • lack of motivation
    • lack of clear expectations
  • Ask faculty member to suggest possible solutions, suggest alternatives as appropriate
  • Getting a commitment to act
    • What actions will be taken (specify actions, not just results: what is the person going to DO to change the performance)

Step 5: Agree together - close the meeting

• Summarize the agreements
• Thank her/him; offer encouragement
• Say how and when you will follow up

Step 6: Prepare a written summary of the meeting, including any agreements

Side Tracks: Be Prepared for these Defenses

The Stall

When to expect it: After you have stated what you expect to see. (Step 3)

What it looks like: "OK." "Yeah. Sure." "Whatever you say." "I'll work on that." Or, it may be total silence.

What you should do: Keep on track and move to step 4 and getting her/his involvement in solving the problem.
If the stall is silence, especially after you ask for ideas on how to solve the problem, or for agreement, then re-ask the same question..

The Self Inflicted Wound

When to expect it: After you have stated what you have observed. (Step 1)
After you have stated what you need to see (Step 3)

What it looks like: "I know, I know I do that. You know what's worse is..."

What you should do: Again, keep on track with the next step. Move on to "this is what I need to see..."
You may have to say something like "I'd be happy to talk about some of these other issues at another time. For this situation, ..."

The Guilt Trip

When to expect it: At any time in the discussion, but most likely after you have stated what you have observed (step 1) and after you ask for ways to resolve it (step 4).

What it looks like: "You are always picking on me."
"I am doing my best but that isn't enough for you is it?"
"No one can seem to please you. Why should I be any different?"

What you should do: Recognize the sidetrack and don't fall victim to it. Stick to the facts and go through the steps firmly, but gently. Stay focused.

The Attack

When to expect it: Usually, right after you have begun stating what you observed.

What it looks like: "Who are you to tell me?!!?"
"Yeah, that's easy for you to say. You're not the one out here trying to get grants."

What you should do: Stay calm and stick to the facts. DO NOT fight back. Say "I am sorry you feel that way, but this is what the Department's expectations are ..."

You may give the faculty member some time to cool off, but do not let them leave without setting up a specific time to finish the discussion.