About 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Here are the top five lessons we've learned from the UC Berkeley Achieve Pilot:
- Check-ins need to be modeled from the top
- We've incoporated a wide variety of training and resources for employees and managers/supervisors on coaching and performance
- We've communicated early and often via regular cascading CalMessages to the HR Network, managers/supervisors, and employees
- We engaged the Berkeley units in dialogue, readiness planning, presentations, and a train-the-trainer program to support effective change management and program incorporation.
- We've made strides to further enable inclusion and belonging at Berkeley by including behavioal and performance indicators within the Achievement Criteria.
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.
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.
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.
To increase transparency and help employees understand what leaders and managers/supervisors use to determine performance levels and merit rewards, UC Berkeley has developed consistent, performance-based Achievement Criteria for non-represented staff. The merit criteria guides provide example behaviors for each performance level (Needs Attention, Well Done, Stand Out). All non-represented employees will use the same Achievement Criteria (with additional performance indicators for for people managers). There are five dimensions of the Achievement Criteria which include Collaboration, Goal Accomplishment, Innovation, Inclusion & Belonging, and Job Mastery.
Learn more about the Achievement Criteria for non-represented employees and/or register for Achieve Together training.
To determine performance levels per criterion (Collaboration, Goal Accomplishment, Inclusion & Belonging, Innovation, and Job Mastery), the manager/supervisor will refer to the feedback provided per guided check-in question on the Achieve Together Check-in form and compare the performance and behavioral indicators for each cirterion associated with each performance level (needs attention, well done, stand out), and identify which level aligns closest with the employee’s performance for the year.
The manager then tallies the level attained for each of the five criteria on the Achievement Criteria to determine the overall performance level, taking into account data from three check-in conversations within the merit cycle (April 1-March 31). This is about overall performance, not an average of the three check-in conversations.
Collaboration = Needs Attention
Goal Accomplishment = Stand Out
Inclusion & Belonging = Stand Out
Innovation = Stand Out
Job Mastery = Well Done
An employee must have met the behaviors and standards in at least three of the five criteria listed in a specific performance level to be recommended for that level. Employees with "Needs Attention" in any criterion are not eligible for the "Stand Out" performance level. Employees with an overall performance level of "Needs Attention" will not be eligible for a merit increase.
Using the above as an example, the employee’s merit level would be “Well Done" because they received a "Needs Attention" in one category, thus making the employee ineligible for a "Stand Out" level.
What goals did you accomplish this period? In what ways does your work connect to our overall strategy and/or mission? (Goal Accomplishment & Job Mastery)
What do you like best about your work? (Goal Accomplishment)
How have you supported others work and/or collaborated with others on your work this period? (Collaboration)
How have you innovated to seek efficiencies or improve work outcomes? (Innovation)
How have you fostered diversity, equity, inclusion and/or belonging on our team and campus? (Inclusion & Belonging)
What can I do as your supervisor to better support your success? What additional knowledge, resources, or tools are needed to successfully do your job? (Development Planning & Manager Support)
Yes. Here are a few considerations to better understand the purpose and use of the guided questions:
- These questions map to each performance indicator in the Achievement Criteria, providing the opportunity to adequately discuss what we do and how we do it
- They enable managers/supervisors and direct reports to expansively discuss current performance and plan for future job needs
- Think of the check-in questions as conversation starters, which set up the conversation to use attentive listening and open-ended follow ups to deepen the conversation
- Managers/supervisors and direct reports are not limited to the guided set of questions. It is encouraged to bring attention to feedback, recognition, questions/concerns about work
- By the end of the conversation, managers/supervisor and direct reports should have clear expectations on how work will be accomplished over the next four months.
Completed check-ins will be stored online in the Achieve Together Check-in Form dashboard (coming June 2020) and with UC Berkeley records.
Check-ins cover the preceding four months. For example, the July/August (Summer) check-in will cover performance between April 1 and July 31.
Once a form is finalized, edits cannot be made. Please make sure that the form is completed before selecting the "Finalize my Notes/Comments" action.
Doing performance evaluations once a year took a lot of time. Won’t doing them three times a year take even longer?
With the previous performance program, non-represented employees spent several hours at the end of each performance year collecting records on accomplishments and completing self evaluations. Managers did the same before completing each employee’s annual performance evaluation. Approximately 60,000 hours were spent each year on annual performance evaluations with little to no added value. Achieve Together check-ins are estimated to take a total of 20,000 hours each year (less than half the time), and will transform our workforce. This is because the check-in should be incorporated into the regular one-on-one meetings that already occur. Additionally, as events occur, they are entered onto the check-in form and then discussed. This real-time, informal feedback will increase agility and employee engagement, and lead to increased levels of performance.
It is possible managers/supervisors and direct reports do not agree on individual or overall performance levels, or comments documented in the check-in form. We recommend discussing these disagreements to seek greater understanding, with intent to identify an action plan for prevention of future misaligned perspective on how work is accomplished.
Disagreements between managers/supervisors and direct reports are common and are a major opportunity for constructive, thoughtful, and supportive discussion.
If there is evidence to suggest an inaccurate depiction of performance or conduct, contact your HR Partner to discuss the issue and potential options. The Office of the Ombuds also has conflict resolution and mediation support.
Check-in forms should be completed by the last day of the month following the check-in period. We provide a target timeframe of 60 days to complete the form, giving ample flexibility. Additionally, the system will still be open to complete forms thereafter. A disclaimer though the March/April check-in must be in before all merit recommendation deadlines within units which will likely close on or before April 30.
Managers/supervisors (this includes anyone who is supervising a non-represented employee) are responsible for managing performance and facilitating performance conversations as required by UC Berkeley's performance program for non-represented staff. This information is included in the Achievement Criteria for managers/supervisors. You are entitled to discuss scheduling a check-in conversation. If you are met with resistance, you should contact your HR Partner with questions/concerns.
If it is that check-in conversations do not occur, per UC policy, employees will autmatically receive a "Well Done" performance level. In this case, the supervisor will not be eligible for a merit increase.
Reports will be generated for units for completion data.
Continuous conversations about performance, development, feedback, and the employee experience lead to an overall more engaged workforce. When we lean-in to these discussions, we get more agile, real-time, meaningful input that can help us drive greater results in ways that are more collaborative, innovative, and inclusive. Through ensuring individuals have the chance to check-in more regularly, this creates a stronger environment of belonging for everyone. These conversations create space to solve problems, clarify expectations, and plan for next steps. Elevating the number of times we check-in aboout performance at Berkeley gives us a better chance to address issues as they arise, instead of waiting for a once-per-year retrospective evaluation.
- Attend BPM 206 Growing as a Coach training to learn the coaching framework and fundamental skills
- Join Community of Practice - Cal Coaching Network to learn additional coaching skills and have an opportunity to practice coaching
- Visit the Training & Resources page for self-study resources
- Start a Coaching Circle in your area to get feedback and support from your peers. Contact Inette Dishler to launch a Coaching Circle.
Firstly, don't call it coaching. Labeling a conversation "Coaching" can be intimidating to some people unless they have experienced professional coaching. But in any conversation that you may be having with your employee, you can incoporate coaching skills and using the coaching framework learned from the Growing as a Coach class. Secondly, assess if Coaching is the right approach. A simple way to look at HOW you manage is that you may give more direction at times (for example, when an employee is new to a task) in order to increase their ability to do it well. As they have success, and their confidence increases, you will shift to allow them to do it more independently. Coaching is used when an employee has more confidence and has done a task before.
Managers/supervisors are responsible for coaching employees and managing performance. If coaching or development is not happening, bring this to the attention of the manager/supervisor in a check-in conversation. Let them know how you would like to grow and develop, collaboratively explore professional development goals, and set expectations on how you will touch base on professional development progress between check-in conversations. Ongoing coaching and development are beneficial to both participants in the manager/supervisor and direct report relationship. It is the responsibility of the manager/supervisor to enable teams to grow, leading to greater results. "Coachees" can take ownership over their development through seeking skills, knowledge, and experiences that grow careers.
Achieve Together is designed for non-represented staff. The performance management process for represented staff remains the same. However, managers are encouraged to engage in more frequent, informal conversations with direct reports who are represented if both parties find it beneficial.
Official check-in conversations and documentation as part of Achieve Together are not permitted for represented employees. Changes to performance programs for represented employees are subject to bargaining. However, 1on1 conversations between managers/supervisors and represented employees are permitted and similar conversation topics can be addressed.
How do we handle an employee who remains non-represented but changes teams during a check-in period?
The check-in process (written feedback and discussion) will be completed by the manager with whom the employee spent the majority of the check-in period.
If the employee is in the non-represented position in the last two months of the check-in period, the employee and manager will complete the check-in process (written feedback and discussion). If not, the check-in will be canceled.
How do we handle a newly hired non-represented employee or an employee who moves from a represented position to a non-represented position?
If the start date is in the first or second month of the check-in period, the employee will participate in that check-in. If the start date is in the third or fourth month, the employee will wait until the next check-in to start the process.
Yes, check-ins can be used for probationary employees.
Yes, the check-in can be used for non-represented career, partial-year career or contract employees.
Performance goals provide a roadmap for the employee on what is expected of them and what they can do to help the organization achieve its unit priorities. Aligning employee performance goals with UC Berkeley's and unit strategic goals is the foundation of Achieve Together. Managers collaborative with their direct reports to define performance goals. In today’s rapidly changing and complex work environment, performance goals must be agile and adaptable. Goals can be set for any length of time (ex: 1mo, 4mos, 1yr, 2yrs) and should be revisited regularly as part of ongoing 1on1 meetings. During check-in conversations every four months, goals will be updated as needed.
All non-represented employees will have 2-5 goals at any time:
- 1 professional development goal
- 1-4 goals around these themes: job accountabilities, stretch assignment, special project, and UC contribution (staff organization participation and/or leadership, participation on a unit/university committee, etc.)
Managers/supervisors will collaborate with direct reports on the necessary goals for each check-in period. Conversations about refining goals can occur at any time. Progress against goals and documentation will be discussed and documented during the check-in conversation process every four months.
Since we do multiple check-ins throughout the year, does that mean goals should be accomplished within a single check-in period?
No, it is not required that goals be accomplished within one check-in period. A goal can take three weeks, three months or even multiple years to accomplish. Goals will roll from period to period until the due date is reached. What's most important is that managers/supervisors and direct reports are on the same page on goal expectations.
Should performance goals be every day duties and tasks, long-term special projects, or stretch goals that go above and beyond normal daily routines?
Performance goals are job responsibilities related to key tasks and projects, and may include special projects and stretch goals. Goals should be measurable, actionable, and tied to unit priorities. These can be written using OKRs (Outcomes & Key Results) or SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound), and may be achieved in just one check-in period or may span across several periods. They may be individual goals, team goals or unit goals.
In a performance-based merit pay program, salary increases are differentiated based on performance rather than distributed equally as an across-the-board increase. An employee’s performance is evaluated over a period of time (typically twelve months) and then a merit award is determined based on the employee’s performance contributions during that period.
In July 2015, President Napolitano announced that all UC campuses and locations will be required to implement a merit-based pay for performance model for non-represented employees beginning in fiscal year 2016-2017. Rewarding high performers improves organizational performance, increases employee engagement, and lays the foundation for effective workforce planning and talent management. In addition, performance-based pay is the most widely used base pay program in organizations today. According to a study conducted by WorldatWork in June 2015, 92% of the 1,421 organizations that participated in the study use performance-based pay increases (merit increases).
No, UC Berkeley does not use the method of forced distribution to determine performance levels or merit rewards. With forced distribution, managers would be required to force a certain percentage of employees into each of the three merit levels rather than determining based on performance contributions. Managers are required only to use the performance-based Achievement Criteria and adhere to their allocated budgets when determining employee performance levels and merit rewards.
In years when a merit fund is available, the information discussed and documented in the check-ins, as well as the Achievement Criteria, will be used to determine performance levels and merit awards. Continual dialogue about performance will result in merit decisions that are more closely aligned with performance contributions.
No, non-represented staff will continue to use year-end appraisals with the 1-5 rating scale for the merit rewards process. In April 2020, Achieve Together will replace all existing non-represented performance evaluation processes and forms at UC Berkeley. With Achieve Together, annual performance evaluations and performance ratings will be eliminated and replaced with performance check-ins which are completed online using the Achieve Together Check-in Form. During check-ins in July/August, November/December and March/April, employees and managers meet to discuss employee performance and use the Achievement Criteria for determining performance levels. This real-time, informal feedback will increase agility and employee engagement, and lead to increased levels of performance.
Performance is no longer numerically rated. Instead, performance levels are developed through ongoing check-in conversations and by using the Achievement Criteria. The performance level helps managers determine where within the range of allowable merit increases an employee should be rewarded based on performance contributions. For example, did the employee consistently meet the high standards associated with the “Well Done” performance level, or did they meet the rigorous standards associated with the “Stand Out” performance level? Those who met the “Stand Out” criteria receive a larger merit reward to recognize their exceptional performance contributions. Those who do not meet the standards associated with “Well Done” receive no merit increase. These individuals will have a "Needs Attention" performance level and will begin a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for 30, 60, or 90 days.
To ensure consistent and fair application of the Achievement Criteria, calibration meetings are recommended. Calibration meetings are one way to ensure an equitable, unbiased, and factual process for merit recommendations. Unit leaders or their designees will meet with their respective management teams to calibrate employee performance levels and merit rewards within their respective organizations. Calibration meetings will ensure consistency in the distribution of merit increases, and ensure leadership support. Berkeley People & Culture Compensation team will also review the distribution spreadsheets to ensure compliance with merit guidelines.
After managers and supervisors determine employee performance levels, merit awards will be determined.
- Those with an overall "Needs Attention" will receive no merit increase, and generally begin a performance improvement plan to support getting things on track quickly.
- Staff who reach the "Well Done" level generally receive increases between 2.0-4.0%
- "Stand Out" performers will generally receive 3%+ merit increase
These are recommended percentage increases based on the 3% salary program.
The amount of the merit award will vary according to the employee’s performance contributions and the available budget. The merit program is dependent on available funding. Our program is supported by a limited budget provided by the campus/medical center and individual schools and departments. The fixed budget means that the actual merit increases will also be limited.
These dates are dependent on merit program guidance from UCOP. Generally, increases will be effective in July and entered into the payroll system in August.
After the Berkeley People & Culture Compensation team has reviewed the proposed increases and executive leadership has approved them, managers and supervisors will meet with direct reports individually to discuss performance-based merit increases. Generally, when merit funds are available, this will occur in July/August.
No, there is no appeal process for merit increases. Determining merit increase amounts is a management responsibility. In addition, the merit increase fund is a limited resource.
What is the exception approval process if an employee receives a “Needs Attention” rating in a single category, therefore is not eligible to receive a merit increase?
There are no exceptions to overall Performance Levels. If an employee has an overall Performance Level of "Needs Attention," following review of indicators in the Achievement Criteria and documentation from the three conversations that fall within a merit cycle, they are not eligible for a merit increase.
If an employee with a salary at or near pay range maximum receives a merit increase, their salary will be increased to no higher than the pay range maximum.
No, merit increase guidelines will be based on performance only as opposed to performance and/or position in range, seniority, time in classification, etc. The entire fund will be used to reward employee performance rather than attempt to address equity, compression or market lags.
The Achieve Together check-in form dashboard will be available in June 2020. Check back in the summer before you hold your first check-in conversation between July-August.
As a people manager, how do I address performance challenges for those who are needing a great deal of attention?
Those who are performing in the "Needs Attention" level can receive ongoing coaching, development, direction, and support at any time through the year, not just following the merit process. At any time, a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) can be utilized after consulting with your HR Partner. You can review this step-by-step guide for managing performance challenges to consider the Performance Improvement Plan options.
The Managing Performance Challenges Guide and Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) documents will be available once the Achieve Together program begins.
Should the check-in form be used as a performance improvement plan or a professional development plan?
While the check-in addresses performance and opportunities for professional development, it should not serve as the official Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Use this guide for determining whether a performance improvement plan is required, and contact your HR Partner to consider the next steps.
The Managing Performance Challenges Guide and Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) documents will be available once the Achieve Together program begins.
We've found that ongoing check-in conversations help our managers quickly address any performance issues with constructive feedback. But if an issue persists, we have a structured, documented process and helpful guide to ensure that we're doing our due diligence in relation to the employee and the company. When a manager tells us that a direct report is underperforming, we first ask whether the manager has been setting clear expectations and giving specific, direct feedback via the Check-in process. If not, we recommend that they start there and document those conversations. If the employee still isn't performing after a reasonable amount of time, then we begin the structured performance improvement process.
The Managing Performance Challenges Guide and Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) documents will be available once the Achieve Together program begins.
First, review the Managing Performance Challenges guide and consider if a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) is appropriate. It is encouraged to meet with your HR Partner to discuss the challenges and how they might be more effectively addressed. Using the Achievement Criteria is an incrediby helpful guide to demonstrate performance levels and their responding indicators for Collaboration, Goal Accomplishment, Inclusion & Belonging, Innovation, and overall Job Mastery. These are the keys to aligning the conversation with the specific behaviors, standards, and expectations of non-represented employees and managers/supervisiors.
Program / Process
Check-ins should occur during a regularly scheduled one-on-one. The program is aligned with everyday work and contains less overall documentation compared to year-end reviews. Launching Achieve Together documentation forms takes seconds per employee. With the guided check-in questions and Achievement Criteira as helpful tool, the new process is streamlined for facilitation and documentation.
Employees should go to their immediate manager/supervisor with questions or concern. If the manager/supervisor is unable to address the concern, or the concern is about the manager/supervisor, then contact your HR Partner.
The Berkeley People & Culture team has scheduled cascading CalMessages (HR Network --> Managers/Supervisors --> Employees) before the program launch that will drive everyone to training, resources, tutorial videos, and our FAQ. The messages we will share after we launch the program will be timed ahead of check-in conversation deadlines every four months. Unit leaders can contact our project team to request internal communication templates for sharing about the new program internally. The Achieve Together project team is also availavble for AMAs and presentations on the program and coaching culture.
Contact the team with any questions about communications.
While our new approach will eliminate the extensive annual review process, you’ll still need to complete the annual review in the March/April 2020 timeframe. After that you will engage in your check-in conversations three times per year.
Recent check-ins will be available on the conversation tool dashboard (coming soon!). Historical check-ins can be found in the employee's personnel file.
PPSM policy states that a PPSM employee who doesn't receive a rating is therefore deemed to have met expectations (Well Done Performance Level).
I just got a new supervisor and my previous supervisor has left campus and completed no documentation of my performance before they left. How will I be reviewed?
The new manager/supervisor will be required to complete the check-in process. What's great about the new program is that new managers won't be stuck with nearly a year's worth of work without the opportunity to effectively observe, reflect, discuss, and document performance. With the new program, new managers/supervisors are easily able to roll-on to the program during the four-month intervals and can quickly access information, training, and resources to effectively support staff be successful participating in Achieve Together.
Do provide documentation of work by using the Achievement Criteria as a tool for organizing your progress, and how you worked with others. This information will be helpful for new managers/supervisors to grasp the understanding of your scale, scope, results, and ways you work.
Sourcing feedback from collaborators can also be helpful to more accurately assess performance progress.