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Get Ready For Your Performance Appraisal

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January and February are the months when the majority of Lehigh staff complete performance appraisals (using our Goals-Performance-Success GPS system). As part of this process, staff members also hold meetings with their supervisors to discuss the prior year.

There are a few new twists this year, so we decided to sit down with Linda Parks, HR Associate and GPS Wizard, to discuss what’s new and noteworthy in 2013.


First Things First: The Position Description

Before you even start to think about filling out your 2012 performance appraisal, Linda has an important question for you: “When was the last time you looked at your Position Description (PD)?”

If you can’t remember the last time you reviewed your PD, there’s a good chance it’s been a while. And if it’s been a while, you might be surprised how much what you do in your work day now differs from what your PD says.

“Take a look at the PD and really think about whether or not it’s an accurate reflection of your job,” Linda suggests. “If you find important differences, make a note of these. You can do this in a separate Word document or within your GPS form.”

Areas where your PD might differ from what you actually do might include additional responsibilities, tasks you no longer do, or tasks that are performed in a different way.

“For instance,” Linda noted, “if something that you used to do by hand is now automated, that should be updated in your PD. My PD required some re-wording when we went from paper to online performance management.”

To access your PD, you’ll need the position number as well as a special password. Ask your supervisor or Human Resources for these items, then go to the Portal, and select the Employee tab. You’ll find the Position Description Information link in the Human Resources channel on the upper right of your screen.

Once you’ve assessed your PD’s accuracy, and documented any differences, it’s time to open your 2012 GPS form and start on your self-appraisal. Here, most staff members will definitely notice some changes.

Meet The Short Form

To paraphrase The Who, it’s definitely not the same as the long form.

Following a survey of Lehigh staff and supervisors, Human Resources’ performance management team decided that a more streamlined performance appraisal process would benefit the majority of employees. The “short form” that some parts of the university had been using for several years was looked to as an alternative and has been adopted as the new standard.

Here are the main changes you’ll see when you open your 2012 GPS form:

  • Reduced number of workflow steps (from seven to four)
  • Compressed rating scale (from nine to five)
  • Elimination of the numerical employee self-rating, though employees should still submit a written self-assessment.

In the 2011 GPS (long) form, all sections duplicated for 2012 and could then be edited in the 2011 form. This will not be the case in the 2012 short form. 

“This means to enter your 2013 goals, you will need to go into the ‘My Goals’ tab and choose 2013 Goals and Objectives from the drop down menu on the right-hand side,” Linda said.


This Year’s Schedule

The deadline for 2012 GPS forms to be finalized and submitted to HR is February 28, 2013. “But this is the final final date,” Linda notes. “To be able to hit this deadline, departments should build internal deadlines into their process.”

Here is a sample schedule that follows the workflow steps and could be adopted by any division:

January 18, 2013        Completed self-appraisals due to supervisors
                                 (Annual Appraisal step)

February 4, 2013        Performance meetings with supervisors should be scheduled                                                  (Performance Meeting Step)

February 15, 2013         Performance meetings should be complete and the GPS
                                   online form should be sent to supervisor for signature
                                   (Signature Step)

February 27, 2013        Supervisor has reviewed and signed online forms and
                                  submitted appraisals to HR (Annual Appraisal Complete Step)

Getting Help

If you’re concerned about using the new short form, you can get help at a new GPS workshop – Meet The Short Form. There are several sessions scheduled, register at the HR Training Registration page.

Linda Parks and her team are also always happy to answer questions. Simply call HR at extension 83900 and ask for Mary Ann Cahalan, Alice Sikorski, or Linda.


Final Details

When you've finished your performance meeting, you may have changes to make to your PD. Be sure to tie up that loose end so that you are starting the year with accurate documents.

Next year will be one of transition for GPS. Based on the information provided from the GPS survey last year as well as other feedback, HR has begun the process of potentially changing software vendors. HR is aiming to have  the new software will be in place in time for next year’s GPS cycle pending any unforeseen complications.

To prepare for this possible change, Linda has a final piece of advice, “Because we don’t know for sure if we’ll be using this software system next year, you should save a copy of your 2012 GPS Appraisal Form and a copy of your 2013 Goals,” she said. “You can save an electronic document, such as a pdf, or you can simply print the forms out and keep them in a folder in your desk.”

For more information, check out these Spotlight articles:

HR News



Workplace Learning & Wellness Programs


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Spotlight is published monthly by Human Resources. Please address any comments to Hillary Kwiatek, Spotlight Editor, Human Resources, 428 Brodhead Avenue, send email to hik210@lehigh.edu, or call extension 85165.

Current and past issues of Spotlight can be viewed and searched at: Past Issues.