President David Angel speaking - Clark University

President's Office

Performance and Career Development Program

April 16, 2013


To Clark University administrators and staff,

We have spoken on a number of occasions about the importance of Clark University becoming a higher performing organization and most especially about the values and norms that are the cornerstone of such success. These values include working from a shared vision, aligning responsibilities with university goals, creativity and urgency in implementation, accountability, integrity, and team work. To enable all of us to model the way in these values, we are announcing today a significant revision of our performance assessment process for administrators and staff. Through this memo we will introduce you to the major features of this new Performance and Career Development Program. Further details will be forthcoming on specific aspects of the program, including information on this year's performance reviews.

What do we seek to accomplish through this new Performance and Career Development Program? Among the features we are trying to bring to the fore are:

  • A much greater emphasis on goals and outcomes — how does everyone's work contribute to the success of the University? The foundation for our new program is a shift to a performance management approach that is explicitly centered on clear performance goals for employees and accountability for accomplishing these goals.
  • A stronger and more transparent mechanism for recognizing exceptional performance through a greater focus on measurable outcomes. This in turn provides a basis for rewarding and recognizing success in our compensation process.
  • Greater emphasis on enabling employee success, providing mentoring and feedback on a regular basis, as well as identification of appropriate training and career development opportunities.
  • Coaching and training of employees and managers to work effectively within such a performance management framework.
  • An expanded role for our Human Resources department in promoting institutional success and in building a high-performance culture at Clark through this Performance and Career Development program.

The foundation for this new program is a required shift to a human resource approach that is centered on clear performance goals for employees and accountability for accomplishing these goals. Clear goals help everyone to excel — employees, managers, and the institution as a whole. We have revised our annual employee assessment forms to make goals the centerpiece of these reviews going forward (see attached forms). As you will see, every employee's performance will be described and assessed relative to goals set for the year. The goals set must be SMART — that is Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Reasonable to achieve, and Time-specific. In addition, goals must be directly aligned with university priorities, they must demonstrate the necessary urgency for achieving results, they must reflect a commitment to a strong return on investment and careful stewardship of all our resources, and they must form a robust basis for reward and recognition for success. All managers and employees will receive training on how to undertake this goal setting process.

This greater emphasis on a culture of high performance will not be successfully accomplished without an investment in building the capacity of both managers and employees to work effectively within such a goals-oriented performance management paradigm. To this end, over the next one to two months all managers and employees will participate in a workshop organized by Human Resources designed to introduce you to our Performance and Career Development Program and to begin this process of capacity building. Human Resources will be working with your department to schedule your participation in the workshop.

Over the course of the next two years, we will be working to fully implement the new Performance and Career Development program. Through this work we will seek to build the capacity of our managers and employees to: (i) enhance the effectiveness of the goal setting process so that goals meet the criteria outlined above; (ii) strengthen the capacity of managers to assess performance against goals and where goals are not met to diagnose the underlying cause (incorrect goals, an insurmountable obstacle or constraint, lack of accountability, a need to strengthen particular skills or capacities required to meet the goal, and so on); (iii) enhance the capacity of managers to work transparently and openly with employees around issues of performance; (iv) provide mentorship and coaching to build necessary skills on the part of employees; (v) develop the capacity of employees to "manage up" — to ensure that supervisors have the information they need to help employees succeed; and (vi) work to enhance the potential contribution of an employee to the University through career advancement and professional development.

The new assessment forms are to be used for 2012–13 end-of-year performance reviews for all employees. In order to allow additional time for managers and employees to complete these forms and participate in the introductory workshop on our Performance and Career Development process, we are extending the completion date for end-of-year reviews to June 30, 2013. The results of these reviews will form the basis for compensation increases for the year. Compensation increases will be back-dated as needed to accommodate this process. Further details on the end-of-year review process will be forthcoming shortly.

This new Performance and Career Development program will both promote Clark's success and enhance Clark as an excellent, meaningful, and rewarding place to work for all employees. We look forward to your participation in this important initiative.

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