Performance management is the systematic process of:
- Planning work and setting expectations
- Continually Monitoring performance
- Developing the capacity to perform
- Periodically Rating performance in a summary fashion, and
- Rewarding good performance.
Within the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there are three performance appraisal systems: one for members of the Senior Executive Service, one for employees covered by the Alternative Personnel Management System (APMS), and one for Federal Wage System (FWS) employees. Each of these systems requires an employee's performance to be appraised at least annually on the basis of objective, job-related criteria. The appraisal process has three stages: performance planning, progress review, and appraisal.
APMS and FWS Performance Management Programs:
The appraisal cycle at NIST normally runs from October 1 to September 30 of the following year; however, the minimum appraisal period is 120 days.
During the planning stage, employees and supervisors meet formally at the beginning of each appraisal period to discuss the employee's job and prepare a written performance plan. This performance plan is a written document that sets forth the expectations and goals for individuals to channel their efforts toward achieving organizational objectives. The plan contains critical elements that describe what each employee is expected to perform. When developing performance elements, effective elements must:
- Support the work unit as well as mission objectives;
- Be job-related and consistent with the position description;
- Cover major job requirements and key components;
- Communicate performance expectations that are results-based; and
- Be clearly stated and understandable to all parties.
The performance plan also contains performance standards. Performance standards are the management-approved expressions of the performance thresholds, requirements, or expectations that must be met for an employee to be appraised at a particular level of performance. There are clear expectations of what has to be done and how it has to be done. Employees should be involved in setting the standards under which their performance will be evaluated. Performance standards may include, but are not limited to: quality, quantity, timeliness, and manner of performance. Effective performance standards should be:
- within an employee's control
- clearly stated
The critical elements and standards are used to evaluate performance. Critical elements are extremely important and failure to meet the minimum performance standards established requires remedial action by an employee's supervisor which may result in the employee being reassigned, reduced in grade or pay band, or removed from the Federal service.
Supervisor should continually monitor their employees' performance throughout the appraisal period. Under the NIST performance management system, employees must have a progress review at about the midpoint of the appraisal cycle (March 30), and this is to be completed within 30 days of the midpoint. Either the employee or supervisor can request additional progress reviews at any time during the appraisal period. To the maximum extent possible, progress reviews shall be informative and developmental in nature and shall focus on how to improve future performance.
Toward the end of the appraisal period, supervisors will ask their employees to submit written accomplishments that pertain to the critical elements described in each performance plan. They may also schedule a performance review meeting which is an opportunity for an exchange of information between employee and supervisor. This is also a good opportunity for employees to bring to their supervisor's attention work that they've accomplished that the supervisor may not be aware of. Any changes needed to the next appraisal cycle performance plan may also be discussed.
At the end of the appraisal period, supervisors will evaluate their employees' performance taking into consideration the employee's written accomplishments, and the critical elements and performance standards described in each performance plan. Performance ratings are the written, or otherwise recorded, appraisals of performance compared to the performance standards for each critical element in an employee's performance plan.
To receive a performance rating at NIST, each employee must have had an opportunity to perform the elements described in their performance plan for a minimum period of 120 days. Based on the final rating, APMS employees may be eligible to receive a performance pay increase and/or a bonus under the APMS Pay for Performance System (PPS). FWS employees may receive a performance award based on their rating. Each supervisor will meet with his/her employees to present the final appraisal decisions, including rating and any pay increase, bonus, or performance award.