Frequently Asked Questions - About Achieve Together

What is Achieve Together?

Achieve Together is the new UC Berkeley staff performance program for non-represented employees. Achieve Together replaces all current performance evaluation processes and forms. The program emphasizes ongoing performance development, coaching conversations, and clear guidelines for how we do our work through the Achievement Criteria performance indicators. 

When will this start?

Achieve Together will begin in April 2020. During this time, staff and managers will have three formal check-in conversations about performance using six standardized questions. Conversations will be documented using a new online tool.

What is a staff performance program?

Individual employee performance contributions drive the results that accomplish the goals of UC Berkeley. The performance program is the mechanism by which managers/supervisors help translate unit goals, objectives, and performance standards to individual employee goals and expectations through ongoing check-in conversations.

Why are we doing this?

The goal of Achieve Together is to support a workforce that is more agile, performance-driven and engaged. More frequent check-ins between managers and direct reports means greater engagement, fewer surprises, a better understanding of needs and expectations, more learning-in-place, less performance-related paperwork, and a clearer line of sight about how an individual’s performance contributes to the bigger picture. This simplified process should enable everyone to be more agile and help you focus on your work efforts.

What does this mean for me now?

By mid-March, 2020, we ask that all staff work with their manager to determine if 2019-20 performance goals need to be updated or if new goals should be added because of the shortened merit cycle (merit decisions for 2019-20 will be determined in April, 2020). During your last year-end review conversation, goals will be set for the new Achieve Together program.

Starting in August 2020, staff will meet with their managers to have the first of the three per year Achieve Together conversations. In that conversation, managers will ask their staff a standard set of performance questions. Goals will also be discussed. If your goals from the previous period are still valid, they can be kept. If updates are needed, they can be updated. Because Achieve Together enables staff and their managers to have ongoing conversations throughout the year to align your work efforts with current conditions, it will enable you to evolve your goals over time. 

What should staff expect from their manager?

Managers are getting ready for your Achieve Together conversation by learning about the program’s process and tools. They are preparing themselves to have meaningful performance conversations with you and to be active listeners throughout the process. Feel free to ask your manager about how this new approach will work for you and your team.

How should staff prepare?

We ask that all staff talk with your manager about the schedule for your first formal check-in meeting. Then, get ready by familiarizing yourself with the standardized questions so you can organize your part of the conversation. Focus on what you want to share with your manager, what you want to ask them, and what - if any - support you need. These conversations are intended to be two-way, so feel empowered to work with your manager in setting the agenda.

How should managers prepare?

Campus is offering a Growing as a Coach training to all managers. This is designed to enable managers to build essential skills for generating meaningful conversations, including how to ask powerful questions and to listen deeply.

Why was there a pilot?

As you know, our campus is complex, so undertaking any change of this magnitude means there needed to be enough study to make sure things work across the full range of campus business units. The pilot groups helped to identify key areas of concern about how performance is managed today. We also saw  great enthusiasm to help us solve the problems encased in our current performance management approach. Pilot units have expressed excitement to play a part in helping campus meet the needs and expectations of our campus workforce, and today’s workplace.

Who is involved in the pilot?

Some 230 managers and over 800 employees from six areas of campus participated in the pilot over the past two years. They represent Haas School of Business, Central HR, College of Chemistry, IS&T, Law School, and University Development and Alumni Relations (UDAR).

What did we learn from the UC Berkeley Achieve pilot?

Here are the top five lessons we've learned from the UC Berkeley Achieve Pilot:

  1. Check-ins need to be modeled from the top
  2. We've incoporated a wide variety of training and resources for employees and managers/supervisors on coaching and performance
  3. We've communicated early and often via regular cascading CalMessages to the HR Network, managers/supervisors, and employees
  4. We engaged the Berkeley units in dialogue, readiness planning, presentations, and a train-the-trainer program to support effective change management and program incorporation.
  5. We've made strides to further enable inclusion and belonging at Berkeley by including behavioal and performance indicators within the Achievement Criteria.

What are the primary challenges of check-in conversations?

Getting started isn't easy. The biggest challenge is creating a new mindset around performance. The Berkeley People & Culture team is focusing heavily in change support to help units take ownership of the new check-in process. Through resources and trainings, everyone can have a better understanding of Achieve Together, in which employees welcome ongoing feedback, act upon it, and offer their own ideas for their growth and development.

We need to to build our managers' skill sets around annual merit rewards process. Without traditional reviews, managers/supervisors need to understand how to use the Achievement Criteria and check-in documentation to differentiate pay based on employee performance.

Another major opportunity for Achieve Together is the incorporation of Inclusion & Belonging as a performance indicator for all employees and managers/supervisors. Upholding inclusive behaviors leads to a workplace in which we can all feel like we belong, and ultimately drive UC Berkeley to greater heights through our support of one anothers' identities and cultures. 

What are the advantages of a check-in performance model?

We’ve seen positive results so far. It’s clear to us that, by having multiple Check-in conversations each year, both managers/supervisors and employees have a greater ability to strengthen relationships and improve results.

We've also redeployed the time managers spent administering the annual review process to more impactful Check-in conversations and keeping up with alignment of unit priorities. In the first year, we estimate that we will save 40,000 total hours on performance evaluations.

This model gives you more on-point and thoughtful feedback for ongoing improvement of work outcomes and relationships. 

What are the benefits of this approach?

The many organizations which have shifted to this performance management approach - including UC Irvine - have had favorable outcomes:

  • More real-time assessment, adjustment, and alignment of work efforts.

  • Greater opportunities for conversations about engagement and professional development.

  • More shared ownership between managers and direct reports about how work is performed.

  • Better matching work efforts with workplace dynamics.

  • Less time needed to prepare, produce, and document performance conversations.