President Gamble begins new review program for Statewide executives

Statewide executives are participating in a “360-degree” review this summer and through the fall after a decision by UA President Pat Gamble to reenergize employee performance evaluations.

Such reviews aren’t entirely new to UA, but such a thorough approach for all executives has not occurred before. The 360-degree review program requires feedback from a number of individuals beyond the executive’s direct supervisor, including coworkers, peers, colleagues and others. The end result is a comprehensive review based on a variety of perceptions of the executive’s on-the-job performance. Along with this process, Human Resources is running a pilot program on a new performance evaluation process for non-supervisory employees.

“It is important to make sure that employees understand how they are doing in their positions, so frequent and varied communications about work-related behaviors are crucial,” said Paula Donson, an associate vice president who is coordinating the 360-degree reviews on behalf of President Gamble. “It is not that their boss gives them poor feedback – it’s that feedback from only one source is incomplete.”

360-Degree Review Process

Thirty executives at Statewide are part of the initial effort.  Here’s how the process works: the executive selects approximately 20 fellow coworkers, colleagues, their supervisor and others familiar with their work style behavior to serve as “raters.”  The raters are sorted into various groups:  Peers, Direct Reports, Board Members, a Boss, and even “Others,” which can reflect professional affiliates or long-term valued colleagues outside the university itself.  Each executive selects their review team and enters their names and contact information into a secure web-based system. The system then issues an invitation to everyone identified to rate the individual on performance behaviors that can be boiled down to 16 exemplary executive traits.

All ratings are confidential.  The rater fills out the survey online. When finished, it goes to a third-party, off-campus vendor for scoring.  No names are used on the form, and the scores from each group are then returned as an average score to the executive.  In other words, each average score represents anywhere from three to eight raters.  The only score that is identifiable is the rating from the “Boss,” as employees have the right to know how their supervisor rates their performance. 

Additional security measures guarantee that no one sees a person’s score except the person being rated.  The score does not become a part of the employee’s personnel file, is not used for promotional or punitive action and is not sent to the executive’s supervisor. It is up to the person who is rated to share his or her score with others, but it certainly can be beneficial for professional development and performance improvement.

“Raters play an important part in this process,” Donson said.  “Their valuable insights provide data and evidence to the executive in how they are perceived in the workplace.  Raters need to be constructive and keep the good of the organization in mind as they fill out the questionnaire, since it is sincere feedback from multiple sources that can make a positive difference to UA overall, as well as to the executive personally.”

Each executive undergoing the 360-degree feedback will be provided with a developmental plan that is based on their own strengths and developmental needs shown in their final profile.  In addition, the organization receives a team profile that shows the “bench strength” of the entire executive team.  Since the process is uniquely prescriptive, executives will see exactly where they need to improve.  They are free to share whatever portion of their profile they may want to share, and with whomever they would like.  The process is intended to support the executive and help each one improve.

President Gamble will review how the program is working at UA after the initial group is finished, around November, and will then consider expanding it if it proves effective.

If you receive an email from Executive Dimensions, it means you’ve been identified as a rater. The survey takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. If you have any questions, please contact Donson at 907-786-7729 or pmdonson@alaska.edu.

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