Performance appraisals

Performance reviews and appeals
Article 6 of the MAPE contract, Employee Rights, addresses Position Descriptions and Performance Appraisals.

Position Descriptions (Section 2.)
In short, Article 6, Section 2 of the contract explicitly states that position descriptions are to be accurate regarding “duties, responsibilities, goals, and performance indicators.”

In practice, an employee should work with his or her immediate supervisor to assure that the position description under which he or she works accurately reflects the reality of the job. Position descriptions themselves are not grievable under the contract, but the contract mandates that there must be “an internal departmental appeal procedure to review disputes regarding the accuracy of position descriptions.” In other words, an employee should periodically review his or her position description with the supervisor to determine its accuracy--for instance at the time of the annual performance appraisal. If disputes arise with supervisors regarding the position description, then employees can avail themselves of the position description appeal procedure. Further guidance is provided by the State of Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) Office (formerly known as DOER—Department of Employee Relations) Administrative Procedure 20—which states that position descriptions should be rewritten every three years.

Accurate position descriptions are important since an employee’s annual performance appraisal will largely be based on the indicators described therein. Long term employees at the top of their pay ranges may be lax in monitoring the accuracy of their position descriptions (and in insisting on annual performance appraisals). They should be encouraged to update position descriptions since their performance can only be evaluated accurately by a supervisor if the position description is current and reflective of their real work.

Performance Appraisals (Section 3.)
The contract is clear. Performance appraisals should take place at least annually and cannot be substituted with “work plans, coaching sessions and letters of expectation.”

The contract further mandates that performance appraisals “shall indicate the employee’s overall level of performance” and that members of the MAPE bargaining unit shall not conduct performance appraisals for each other. Many employees seem to ignore the performance appraisal process if their supervisors neglect to conduct an annual review as step increases often happen regardless of whether an appraisal takes place. In addition, when employees get to the top of their pay range, an appraisal may seem to be nothing but a distractive nuisance. Employees should be encouraged to pursue performance appraisals (and accurate position descriptions) as a way to protect themselves if performance issues suddenly arise in the workplace.

Many employees are resistant to signing their performance appraisal if they disagree with it, but the contract makes clear that signing a performance appraisal “does not indicate the acceptance or rejection of the appraisal.” Employees have thirty days from date of receipt of performance appraisals to file a written response in their personnel files, an important right (see below). Administrative Procedure 20 describes the performance appraisal process in some detail and is included in your steward training materials.



Description and Scope - Employee Performance Appraisal is a system that ensures a continuous process of reviewing, analyzing and evaluating employee performance. The system is based upon individual position descriptions, established performance indicators, formal performance review and individual development planning.

Objectives -- To establish a clear understanding between supervisor and employee of the employee's job duties, responsibilities, accountabilities and authorities. To establish a formal evaluation process to determine how well the employee meets the standards of performance for those job duties and to provide opportunity and direction to improve work performance. To provide managers with information on which to base, in whole or in part, various personnel decisions, such as salary increases, promotions and discipline.

Definitions -- Key Terms --

"Individual Development Plan" means a three-step process that includes: identification of the employee's specific needs for growth and improvement, assignment of priorities to identified needs and proposed solutions to development needs.

"Performance Indicators" mean the statements or conditions that measure the quality or quantity of work to be performed, the time frame in which the work is to be completed and/or the resources to be used to complete the job.

"Performance Review" means a periodic assessment of an employee's performance and discussion of that assessment with the employee. A formal performance rating is assigned during the review. Informal reviews are also conducted with the employee; these reviews are held more frequently and are less structured than the formal "performance review."

"Position Description" means a formal definition of the duties, responsibilities, working relationships and performance expectations of a position in state service. Position Descriptions are to be written in the format indicated by the instructions accompanying the Position Description Form.

Responsibilities -
A. Appointing Authorities:
-- Ensure that managers and supervisors conduct a minimum of one performance review for each employee annually.
-- Ensure that each employee has a position description.
-- Ensure that each employee has an opportunity to prepare an individual development plan if needed or wanted by the individual.
-- Department of Employee Relations:
-- Develop and maintain a statewide employee performance appraisal system.

Provisions -
A. Position Description:

  1. Each employee must have an accurate up-to-date position description. This must be provided no later than six months after appointment or promotion.
  2. The position description for employees who work less than 100 days per calendar year may be written on a Position Description Form or may consist of a memo to the employee outlining specific duties, responsibilities and tasks that the employee is expected to perform.
  3. Where practical, employees who work more than 100 days per calendar year shall have the opportunity to review and provide input into the content of the position description before it is finalized.
  4. The position description shall be reviewed at least annually and rewritten at least every three years.

B. Formal Performance Review:

  1. Each employee who works more than 100 days per calendar year shall have a formal performance review (coaching/counseling) session at least annually.
  2. Employees shall have the opportunity to review and comment on their performance ratings before they become official.
  3. Employees who have not attained permanent status in their positions should be formally evaluated and counseled on their job performance every three months. Employees who are serving a probationary period of less than six months should be formally evaluated at the mid-point of the probationary period.
    -- Where practical, probationary employees shall be formally reviewed at least twice during the probationary period.
    -- The review date should provide sufficient time for the employee to alter or improve unacceptable performance before the end of the probationary period.
    -- Nothing in this Procedure shall be construed as preventing an appointing authority from terminating a probationary employee at any time.
  4. Additional formal reviews should be conducted when any significant change in performance occurs.
  5. Performance ratings may be appealed to the appointing authority within 30 days of the official date of rating. The decision of the appointing authority is final and shall become the official evaluation of that employee for the specified evaluation period.
  6. Three signatures added after the performance review is completed (or changed) are required to make the performance review official:
    a. The signature of the person being rated is required in order to document that the person received the evaluation and is aware of its contents.
    b. The signature of the rater is required in order to communicate to the person being rated who actually performed the evaluation.
    c. The signature of the next level of management is required in order to establish that the rater is speaking for the organization, or at least, that the organization is aware of and accepts the evaluation as written.

C. Individual Development Plans:

  1. Each employee who works more than 100 days per calendar year shall have an individual development plan on file if needed to improve present performance, prepare for promotional opportunities, required to undertake new responsibilities or to undertake career development goals, or if wanted by the employee.
  2. The individual development plan shall be reviewed and updated at the time of the annual performance review and shall be monitored during the appraisal period.

D. Informal Performance Reviews: Informal reviews or coaching sessions should be conducted more frequently than once a year at the discretion of the appointing authority.

E. Documentation and record keeping:

  1. Formal performance review information shall be maintained in the employee's personnel file for a minimum of three years.
  2. Employee performance appraisal reports are available for inspection by the following:
    a. The employee or employee's designated representative with written approval from the employee.
    b. The appointing authority and individuals within the agency whose work assignments reasonably require access to this information.
    c. The Commissioner of Employee Relations and employees of DOER whose work assignments reasonably require access to this information.

Performance Appraisal Appeals
While the contract precludes grieving of “the substantive judgment of supervisor regarding the employee’s performance,” it does provide for an appeal process (as described in Administrative Procedure 20) within 30 days of the date of the rating. That appeal is presented to the “Appointing Authority,” usually the Human Resources office 0r the raters supervisor, and the decision of the Appointing Authority is final.

For this reason, it is important that the employee also file the aforementioned written response for inclusion in his or her personnel file: even if the Appointing Authority upholds the rater’s determination, the employee’s written rebuttal will remain in the personnel file.

Section 3 of Article 6 further states the following: “At the employee’s request, an Association Representative may be present during the appeal meeting(s).” In other words, a steward, as the “Association Representative,” can clearly be at the meeting. The contract is mute, however, regarding the steward’s role.

In essence, it is the employee who is responsible for making the presentation in this forum. The steward/representative is there to provide support, to ensure that the employee is able to make their points and to ensure management treats the employee respectfully.

Progression (Step) Increases in Salary
Section 5 of Article 24 of the contract (Wages) states that employees may receive annual step increases, “provided satisfactory performance is indicated by the Appointing Authority.”

(This language is superseded by any agreement by MAPE and the State to language that suspends step increases.)

That section goes on to clarify that an Appointing Authority must notify the employee in writing if the step increase will be withheld. If the Appointing Authority does not, then the step increase will be granted. Further, it is explicitly stated that, while the “substantive judgment of the employee’s supervisor regarding his/her performance” cannot be grieved, the progression increase denial can be grieved.

Steward/Representatives should pay particular attention to lack of training, lack of management support, and unreasonable workload issues when seeking the necessary information to argue a grieved progression denial. Any improvements in performance support an argument for reversing the denial of the progression step increase. The contract specifically states that the withheld increase “may be subsequently granted” if the Appointing Authority certifies that “the employee has achieved a satisfactory level of performance."