Frequently Asked Questions - Performance

Performance Cycle

What is the performance cycle?

Phase 1 - Planning:  Creating goals and expectations between the employee and manager for the current year.

Phase 2 - Check-Ins:  Giving ongoing feedback throughout the year; identifying acomplishments, areas for improvement and adjusting the goals/expectations as necessary.

Phase 3 - Review:  Reviewing the year at the end of the performance period.

The intent of this process is to identify the key parts of each employee’s job, identify what it looks like when that is done well (meets your expectations as a manager), and how both you as manager and your employee will know when that is achieved (measurements).

Phase 2 – Check-in

What happens when goals change?

It is quite likely that the goals/outcomes will change during the year. When they do, the manager and employee would discuss the new goals, and both agree to the expectations going forward. They would document the changes by updating the PPR document, and initial and date the new form to indicate understanding and alignment.

Phase 3 - Review

How does an employee provide feedback on their review?

An employee is welcome to add comments as a separate attachment. If they prefer to write a self-review, the employee is always welcome to request that their self-review, or other comments, be attached to the performance review form.

What do I do with the comment section?

Comments under each of the goals will be added when the goal is reached, or when the review period is completed. Overall comments are included towards the end of the document, covering those areas not addressed in the comments from the goals.

Is there a correlation between “meeting goals” and a “meets expectations” overall rating?

Not necessarily.  Clearly, one aspect of performance is whether the goals were met or not -- but which goals were met and how they were achieved matters as well.  Here are two examples.

  • Two employees each met their goals.  However, one employee performed in ways that exemplified one or more of the Operating Principles, while the second performed in ways that undermined one or more.  Depending on the circumstances, a manager might determine that a higher rating is appropriate for the first employee and a lower rating appropriate for the second.
  • Two employees each met some but not all of their goals.  However, one employee focused on the most critical or demanding goal, while the second focused on the least critical or demanding.  Depending on the circumstances, a manager may determine that a higher rating is appropriate for the first employee and a lower rating appropriate for the second.

How do I quantify the overall performance if there is no number system (similar to previous reviews)?

The review discussion and overall rating is not intended to be a numerical scoring system, but rather an overall assessment on the manager’s part of the performance of the individual over the past review period.

What if employees meet goals, but don't do well in other responsibilities?

The 3-5 goals should cover 80% or more of the job responsibilities. For the performance of other job duties, they can be identified and covered in the overall comments section. This section completes the narrative if the year.

How do I get others’ feedback in creating a performance review document?

This has not changed. You may continue to use feedback from others just as you have in the past.

How do I review performance if goals weren’t established for the year?

The process requires that you set goals at the beginning of the year. Since we have simplified the form to focus entirely on goals, if you do not get goals established, you will want to sit down right away with your employee and get agreement on outcomes expected for the year. Without goals established, there will be nothing to discuss during the review phase.

Why is there a limit on individuals who can be rated Exceptional performances by unit?

Exceptional performance is intended to acknowledge the accomplishments and delivery of results that are well beyond expectations. As such, at the unit level, monitoring the frequency of those ratings helps insure that we are being accurate and rating the overall performance. Each unit has established calibration requirements regarding the exceptional ratings. By achieving an exceptional rating in a given year, individuals are being recognized for that ‘over and above’ performance for that particular year, and not in comparison to other years or other contributor’s in their unit.

Phase 1 – Planning

How do I set goals?

  • Meet with your employee.
  • Identify and agree on major pieces of the job.
  • Use that list to determine performance for the year.
  • Start the next period by identifying the major pieces of the job, what success looks like, and how that might be measured.

What are the components of a goal?

Each goal will represent a major portion of the job, with a statement of what success looks like (meeting the manager’s expectations). Ideally, goals would include specific, measurable, realistic and time bound elements (SMART). Visit the HR tips on SMART goal writing.

What happened to the competencies?

We heard from many of you that the requirement to assess all staff along each individual competency was burdensome and not always useful.  Based on your feedback, we have shifted the focus of the PPR process to goal setting. By aligning individual performance goals with your organization’s strategic priorities, you are helping your staff actively engage in moving your unit toward its operational objectives.

The competencies are still important to managing your employees, because they support how the goal was accomplished. You will likely still use them in coaching your staff toward improved performance.  In doing so, you may find The Behavioral Anchors to be a useful resource.

Will there be training on goal setting for Managers and Supervisors?

Yes! Our KEYS class, ‘Communicating Goals and Expectations,’ provides detailed support on how to set goals. This program is offered twice a year based on the timing of the performance cycle (sign-up on blu). There is a online course (sign-up on blu) titled "UC Setting Expectations and Individual Performance Goals." Additionally, Staff Learning and Development offers training for work teams upon request. Check out our Training resources for more information.

What happened to the development planning?

It’s still part of the process. When you discuss goals with your staff at the beginning of the cycle, it will be particularly important to include a discussion of success measures - i.e., how you will both know that the goal has been met.  As part of that conversation, together you should identify needed knowledge, skills, or abilities that will enable the employee to achieve the goal.  The discussion may result in an agreed upon Individual Development Plan, which you can complete as you have in the past (though it is no longer linked to the PPR form).

Alternatively, for some employees you may want to include a professional development goal as one of the 3-5 annual goals you establish at the beginning of the PPR cycle.

What do I do if I’ve supervised someone for less than a year?

You would review their performance for that period of time that you supervised them. The goals will be those you established for the employee during her/his onboarding process.

How do I use this form for very transactional jobs?

Goals can be either transaction based (e.g., produce 8 widgets each week) or strategic (e.g., redesign the production process so that the team can increase widget production by 10%)

Do we use this form to evaluate staff during their probation period?

Yes, the same form should be used for both career and contract employees during the annual review, and for probationary employees at any point in their probation cycle, as well as the end of the probationary period.

Why is there no section for evaluating responsibilities?

Goals should cover the broad areas of responsibility for a particular role, written as outcomes or results.

Performance Review Form

Can I save without having to submit?

Yes, you can save a review by clicking “Save Changes” at the bottom of the online form. The system is designed to let you save drafts and changes as needed.


Does a group or manager need to use the self-evaluation form within the system or can a group use their own?

The self-assessment (review) is an opportunity to create two way communication around performance. This supports a performance based culture, while not required we strongly encourage managers to incorporate the self-assessment in their performance management process. The self-review found in the tool becomes a part of the employee’s record on file.

While it’s technically possible for managers and groups to conduct constructive conversations outside the on-line performance management tool, we strongly encourage incorporating use of the tool as it’s specifically designed to capture and support meaningful two-way conversations around performance management.


Can the supervisor designate someone else to process a review in the tool?

Since the process is HCM based, designees are not allowed.

My next level manager is a PI/faculty, can I skip having them approve it?

Yes, you can assign the second level review to yourself. You would then approve it as both signatories (two steps).

How will the employee access their self-evaluation?

The reviewer will open access to the employee in order for them to complete their self-assessment.

How long am I able to change the rating in the tool?

You may change the rating at any time prior to the cycle ending. However, making changes after the 2nd level approver signs, will require having to go through the process of getting their signature after the change is made.

My department uses a committee review to ensure consistency in ratings. How will the committee access the reviews?

Only the supervisor, employee and second level manager have access to the electronic forms. Reviews can be printed for this purpose.

Once I submit, can I make changes afterwards?

The document can be reverted to edit state at any time in the process up to the employee signature - it will remove the signatures from the form, and the signature steps will need to be repeated after the changes have been made. After the employee signs, the form can only be opened for editing through a manual process - contact

Will the employee be able to access the completed performance evaluation online and can I view or edit what I wrote last year?

Yes, the employee will have access to the completed review through their dashboard. FY16 reviews remain on your dashboard, and can be viewed. If you are new to supervising an individual, their past year’s review can be sourced from CSS-HR.

How long will the form be available after it’s finalized, and will it be available throughout the year for probation period evaluation?

The FY17 reviews will remain accessible (view only) on your dashboard throughout FY18. And, yes, the tool will remain open throughout FY18 for probation period reviews.

What do I need to know about how this tool impacts contract employees?

The expectation is that contract employees are included in the performance management process.  They are eligible for salary increases; therefore, they must have an evaluation rating them as “Meets, Exceeds, Significantly Exceeds.”

Do I need to include a union representative in my meeting with my employee if the employee requests it?

Remind the employee that this is not a disciplinary conversation. If they still insist, please contact your HR Business Partner.

How will an employee receive a rating and an increase if my manager doesn’t do a review?

Constructive feedback is increasingly important throughout the year but especially in the annual review. Performance Reviews that are not completed on time default to a satisfactory rating, and an appropriate increase may be inline.

How are HR managers and Business Partners alerted to performance issues? And will they have access to my performance evaluations?

If an employee is rated as “needs improvement” or “unacceptable,” the manager will need to notify the HR Business Partner. The manager will need to provide a copy of the reviews to the HR Business Partner. Currently HR Business Partners do not have access to view performance evaluation.

Operating Principles

How can I get a poster of our Operating Principles?

You can download an 8.5 x 11 poster for your workspace here. If you would like to order 11 x 17 posters, or multiple copies for bulletin boards on campus, please contact the project team at

What was CultureCal?

CultureCal was an unprecedented brainstorming event held from Oct. 1-12, 2012, in which all faculty, staff, and student employees were invited to help define the campus’ operating principles.  Innovative brainstorming software allowed employees to rate proposed principles, create new ones, and promote their favorites.  The site logged over 39,000 hits with over 2,300 employees participating in CultureCal via the website, kiosks, and in-person outreach events. 358 principles were submitted, 401 comments posted, and 22,853 ratings on principles were made.  The project team also conducted in-person outreach, through kiosks as well as special sessions to reach staff less likely to use computers, or who required translation services. The Methodology Report provides more details on how the campus arrived at the final set of Operating Principles. 

How was the final decision on Berkeley Operating Principles made?

Our Berkeley Operating Principles project collectively gathered input from a broad representation of the UC Berkeley campus community.  Over the course of two years, thousands of campus voices contributed to defining a set of operating principles.  Our final Operating Principles were approved on December 6, 2012 by the OE Executive Committee (Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer, OE Program Faculty Head Andrew Szeri, and John Wilton, Vice Chancellor, Administration and Finance).  The Methodology Report provides an overview on how the campus arrived at the final set of Operating Principles. 

How can operating principles be useful?

By guiding both the highest level strategic decisions and our day-to-day activities, Operating Principles help us, as UC Berkeley employees, to look for opportunities to improve operations and our own performance so that we can better serve the University’s mission of teaching, research, and public service. The Berkeley Operating Principles are being infused into our campus operations in both formal and informal ways --- they can be brought up in meetings when things get stuck, and will be part of hiring, staff recognition, and training. Learn more about the research behind organizational culture and operating principles here.

What is the impetus for this project?

Despite the outstanding efforts of UC Berkeley’s dedicated employees, many staff, faculty and students report that it’s often just too hard to get things done here.  Effective and efficient operations, powered by engaged staff, are crucial to maintaining UC Berkeley’s preeminence in teaching, research and public service.  Our Operating Principles describe a working environment that will help us meet campus goals and make UC Berkeley a place where we can all do our best work.

How does this project relate to UC Berkeley's Principles of Community?

Our Berkeley Operating Principles do not amend or change the Principles of Community, which relate to personal and collective behavior as part of a community. Our Berkeley Operating Principles provide guidance in the way we, as employees, do our administrative work; they are not intended to guide the University’s teaching/research mission.

What are operating principles?

Operating principles are short phrases that describe shared values and inspire a common belief system within a community. At UC Berkeley, operating principles provide guidance in the way we, as employees, do our administrative work, and are not intended to guide the University’s teaching/research mission.

What is our Berkeley Operating Principles project?

Our Berkeley Operating Principles project was an Operational Excellence initiative that engaged the campus community to collaboratively develop a set of operating principles that are now being embedded into campus operations in both formal and informal ways. Our Operating Principles describe a working environment that will help us meet campus goals and make UC Berkeley a place where we can all do our best work.  The project team worked closely with departments, schools and campus organizations to offer workshops, tools and resources that help make the principles useful and inspiring to our campus employees, managers and leaders.

What are UC Berkeley's Operating Principles?

The five principles are:

  1. We include and excel, together
  2. We imagine and innovate
  3. We simplify
  4. We are accountable to each other
  5. We focus on service