Performance Appraisal of Classified Employees

(Authorized by: Alexander/ Ramstad)


This manual has been prepared to assist the District's management and supervisory staff in implementing and administering the District's Performance Appraisal Program for the following classified collective bargaining units: Office-Technical, Confidential, Classified Supervisor and SEIU (Service Employees' International Union). Prior to developing the details of the manual, it is worthwhile to mention a few of the reasons for initiating an appraisal program:

  1. To improve upon employee performance through counseling that motivates individual development.
  2. To let employees know how they are performing.
  3. To give deserved recognition.
  4. To clear vague responsibilities.
  5. To motivate and assist the employee in growing within his/her job.
  6. To provide a record of employee growth patterns and to identify training needs.
  7. To serve as a supervisory tool which will help managers and supervisors heighten their supervisory ability, and to heighten their understanding of their employees.
  8. To assist in diminishing favoritism that may exist.
  9. To improve employee-management communication.
  10. To identify individual skills being used in the employee's present position.

Definition of a Performance Appraisal

A performance appraisal for the purpose of this program is defined as a periodic evaluation of an employee's performance of assigned duties and responsibilities. Appraisal of employees in the San Diego Community College District is always to be centered on a description of results, and raters are not to be overly concerned with individual characteristics.

Basis for Appraisals

Primarily, requirements of the position and not a strict comparison of employees, constitutes the standard of performance upon which supervisory employees rate each employee under their supervision. This basis for appraisal is defined as the performance which may be expected after a reasonable period of training of a fully qualified, competent and acceptable employee.

When Performance Appraisals are Required

The District's management and supervisory staff are responsible for administering the programs within their departments. Each employee's performance is to be appraised in accordance with the requirements specifically stated in the individual's collective bargaining agreement by his/her immediate supervisor.

Who will Appraise

  1. The employee's immediate supervisor fills out the appraisal form. The immediate supervisor is that designated individual who assigns and directs the employee's work, checks or inspects his/her work for proper methods and results, is responsible for discipline, and is immediately responsible for the work of the employee. The next higher supervisor is primarily a reviewing rater. He/she should be the immediate supervisor of the first rater.
  2. Employees who have been under more than one supervisor during the rating period shall be rated by the rating official having supervision of the employee at the time the rating is to be prepared. The present supervisor may wish to consult with previous supervisors in arriving at this rating.
  3. The aforementioned items relate to the procedures for appraising those employees who are probationary and those employees who are not being appraised under the goal-setting process.

Uses for the Completed Appraisal

Upon completion of the appraisal process and after the affixing of signatures by the employee, immediate supervisor, and when appropriate, the rating official, one copy of the appraisal form shall be given to the employee and the other copy retained in the department not to exceed three years, or as prescribed by the appropriate collective bargaining agreement. Copies of the appraisal form shall not be placed in the employee's permanent record maintained in Human Resources. The retained or departmental copy should become a tool used to improve upon job performance through counseling of departmental employees. Care and skill used by supervisors in appraising and then counseling employees is a measure of a supervisor's ability to direct the work of employees. Employee appraisals made in an informed, conscientious manner will be very valuable to management and other supervisory personnel, and more importantly, the employee.

By periodic review of the employee's work performance, the supervisor gains a better understanding of the individuals value and capacity. The supervisor can more effectively develop and train employees to make the best use of their respective abilities and can recognize meritorious service as well as assist the less than satisfactory employee. From the employees standpoint, the appraisal is important because it points out how well he/she is progressing in his/her job. The appraisal instrument must stimulate morale and interest, and improve performance since it formally recognizes efficient service and points out unsatisfactory service.

Performance appraisals should never be used as a substitute for necessary job instruction or disciplinary action, although it may play a part in recognition of the need for such action.

Extreme care shall be taken to ensure compliance with the letter and spirit of the District's Affirmative Action policy being certain to avoid making racial, sexual, religious, or other ethnic inferences. The District's Affirmative Action and appraisal programs will benefit from accurate, fair, non-discriminatory employee performance appraisal.

Approaches to Appraisal

The appraisal program is not intended to be rigid but is to assist management and supervisory personnel and the employee in doing a better job. The appraisal must take into account job performance, training needs, and areas for improvement with suggested actions to achieve them. Written appraisals should not be lengthy.

Written Appraisal

The following strategy may be helpful to the supervisor and the employee in formalizing the written appraisal herein referred to as the self-appraisal process. Prior to the appraisal review, the supervisor and employee may wish to draw up a checklist or criteria incorporating various elements of the job assignment. The job description can be used for comparison wherein the employee appraises his/her own performance. Judging in those areas in which performance has been strong and where improvement is needed, consideration shall also be given to personal growth. The employee appraises his/her own performance. The employee and the supervisor shall formulate the discussion and move into formalizing the written appraisal.

General instructions for Rating

Do not rate your employees until you are familiar with the appraisal process and procedure.

  1. Each area of the employee's job description must be evaluated.
  2. Consider each area separately, taking into consideration only the particular portion that you are covering. Do not be influenced by overall employee opinion of the employee's overall performance except for that individual section.
  3. Do not be influenced by one or two unusual incidents, but rate in terms of regular day-to-day performance. Do not go beyond the appraisal period in your consideration.
  4. Consider your evaluation in terms of your employee's present duties, not in terms of the duties of a higher or lower class.
  5. Do not let length of service influence your rating except for where it is reflected in the employee's work.
  6. The appraisal should reflect your own judgment of an employee's work performance. You should not be influenced by the opinion of others or personal conflicts.
  7. You cannot improve an individual's performance by completing an appraisal form. You may, however, improve an individual's performance by making helpful suggestions and providing adequate instruction as to what is wanted.

How to Conduct a Counseling Session

More harm than good will result if a counseling session is improperly conducted. Therefore, it is necessary to have a qualified person do the counseling. Either the employee's supervisor, the department head, or some other person best qualified to counsel employees should be given this task. Prior to conducting the session, some careful planning is necessary. Some of the elements to be considered are:

  1. Schedule an appointment and allow sufficient time. Select a time when you and the employee are not under great pressure.
  2. Provide for privacy with an absolute minimum of interruptions (no interruptions if at all possible).
  3. Review pertinent background information, i.e., current job descriptions or changes in job descriptions.
  4. Decide what to accomplish in this session and have clearly in mind the criteria to use, the reasons for the specific ratings, and what is needed if possible.
  5. Consider the employee's point of view and anticipate what his/her reaction to the discussion might be. Remember that each employee is different and that each will react differently in the appraisal session.
  6. Have your opening statement well prepared to launch the discussion.
  7. Be in a good frame-of mind. If you are angry or upset, delay the session to another time or day.
  8. Have the necessary forms ready to present at the proper time. Having to search for the information during the session is distracting.
  9. At the time of the session the supervisor's introductory remarks will quite often set the climate. Thus, it is to everyone's advantage to create a friendly atmosphere at the start.
    The following may be of assistance:
  10. Be natural. Hopefully, your approach is natural, courteous, and professional. Put the employee at ease and establish rapport. This can be done by a friendly greeting and friendly statement that is of interest to the employee and requires a reply. Explain the purpose of the session and how the employee was appraised. He/ she should have a clear understanding of the criteria used in determining his/her rating.

Discussion of a Completed Appraisal Form

The discussion of the completed appraisal form is the crux of the whole appraisal process. It is here that the supervisor is faced with various reactions from employees. Most employees will do a satisfactory job and are happy to know where they stand and how they can improve. However, dealing with employees who are not doing a good job or who are skeptical of the ratings is more difficult. The following are some guidelines the supervisor may use in dealing with either situation.

  1. Compliment the employee without going overboard. Failure to recognize good performance may leave a "what's the use" attitude. However, overdoing it will raise questions about your sincerity or supervisory ability.
  2. Make criticism constructive. If you point out a weakness, be prepared to offer means of correcting it. Be prepared to inform him/her why you feel that way.
  3. Clarify the reasons why the ratings were given, citing specific examples of performance. Deal with the facts and avoid generalities.
  4. Be sure the employee knows what is expected of him/her. Occasionally, when he/she is not doing what you expect him/her to do, he/she may be confused and actually think he/she is doing what is expected.
  5. Ask questions and listen! Don't assume or make inferences. Allow the employee to express his/her reaction to the evaluation. You may discover underlying causes for marginal performance.
  6. Do not interrupt- but don't let irrelevant topics drag out the discussion.
  7. Ask the employee for his/her suggestions on how his/her performance can be improved. Use this opportunity to guide his/her future job performance.
  8. Keep the appraisal job-centered. Avoid discussion of personality shortcomings unless they adversely affect the department or the employee's job performance.
  9. Do not show anger or hostility, regardless of the remarks the employee may make. Try to maintain your objectivity.
  10. If the employee gets angry-- listen. Do not expect to convince him/her of anything while he/she is angry.
  11. Allow the employee his/her self-respect. You don't gain much, if anything, by "proving" him/her wrong, by being sarcastic, overbearing, or unduly "hard-nosed".
  12. Develop and obtain his/her commitment on specific steps for positive action and schedules for follow-up. Write them down. Follow up within a week or two, never over a month.
  13. Schedule a follow-up session if necessary.
  14. End the session on a friendly, constructive note.

Conducting a Successful Appraisal Session

After the session, ask yourself the following questions. If you can honestly answer "yes" to each of them, you have conducted a successful appraisal session.

  1. Does the employee know where he/she stands?
  2. If he/she received a low rating, does he/she know why?
  3. Does he/she know what he/she must do to improve upon his/her performance?
  4. Is he/she motivated to improve?
  5. Does he/she know what will happen if he/she does not improve?
  6. Are plans for on-the-job follow-up clear?
  7. Have you built a stronger relationship between the employee and yourself?

Appraisal Pitfalls

Distorted appraisals may result if the appraiser does not consider the following possibilities for error:

  1. The So-Called "Carry-Over Effect"
    This is a tendency to rate a person either high or low in several areas because he/she rates high or low in one area.
  2. Consistent Leniency
    Some appraisers tend to "go easy" on people because they believe in being generous towards their fellow man. They rate almost everybody high in almost everything.
  3. Consistent Severity
    Some appraisers tend to be "too tough" on people because they believe in upholding extremely high standards. They rate people low and feel that few can reach the standards.
  4. Central Tendency
    Another type of appraiser refuses to "stick his/her neck out" and so rates everybody right down the middle.
  5. Prejudice
    Sometimes strong personal feelings toward an individual being rated influence the appraiser's judgment.
  6. Day-to-Day Variation in Point of View
    Just an appraiser's outlook on things in general may vary over a period of time from optimistic to pessimistic, so also may his attitude fluctuate toward a given individual.

The errors listed above can be largely avoided through understanding and an earnest effort to be fair.

Criteria Definitions and Guides for Use

Employee Performance Criteria

Employee performance criteria are defined below. Each criterion should be checked in relation to the individual employee's duties and responsibilities. Do not assume that all factors are of equal importance. Each criterion's degree of importance will vary according to the requirements of each employee's job.

  1. Knowledge of Work
    This criterion should not be confused with, or restricted to, the technical knowledge an employee is required to bring to a specialized job class. (See Job Skill Level) It is much broader and includes understanding of pertinent District policies, regulations, and procedures relating to his/her assignment. Has the probationary employee acquired an acceptable working level of job knowledge? Is the permanent employee keeping up to date with changed policies and procedures and with technological advances in his/her occupational field?
  2. Quality of Work
    The degree of excellence of the work performed over the entire rating period is measured here. In rating this criterion, attention should be paid to the consequences of poor quality work. Is the employee's work neat, accurate, thorough, and acceptable? Must the work be redone, thus reducing the potential volume of acceptable work which could have been produced? Do errors in the employee's work affect the efforts of others? Does poor work reflect adversely upon the school, department, or District?
  3. Quantity of Work
    Measure the manner and method in which an employee approaches his/her assigned duties, and how successful he/she is in planning and organizing to achieve desired results. Does the employee take time to plan the sequence of steps required in carrying out his/her tasks? Or does he/she attack the job thoughtlessly or with such blind enthusiasm that waste and mistakes result or work deadlines are missed? Does he/she make allowances in organizing the job so that all foreseeable circumstances are properly taken into account? Does lack of planning or poor organizing indicate reasons for low production or poor quality of work?
  4. Uses Good Judgment
    Each employee makes decisions, the number depending upon the degree of responsibility assigned to his/her position. Does the employee make a minimum of poor judgments in the course of his/her work? Is he/she consistent and reliable in his/her judgments? What effect do his/her judgments have on the quantity and quality of work produced by himself/herself and by others?
  5. Relationships
    Reflects only those contacts which are a regular part of the employee's assigned duties. It does not apply to an employee's personal popularity or lack of it. Does he/she mind his/her own business, but at the same time have a proper concern for the problems of other employees whose jobs touch his/hers? Is he/she a disruptive influence? Does he/she bother or embarrass others with his/her personal problems? Is he/she a positive influence on the morale of others?
  6. Reliability
    Reflects absences from duty for any reason. This criterion presents a natural opportunity for necessary or desirable counseling of an employee regarding his/her improper or excessive use of leave privileges, especially if his/her attendance has become unreliable. If sick leave use has been greater than the norm, should the employee seek medical care? Is there a "Friday-Monday" or "holiday" pattern of sick leave use? Have continued absences been costly to the District or harmful to the morale of co-workers who may have been required to carry extra loads?
  7. Attitude
    Refers to the degree of willingness an employee exhibits when given responsibility and the manner in which the responsibility is carried out. Does the employee really accept responsibility or does he/she avoid it? Does he/she deny his/her responsibility when things go wrong? Or is he/she quick to own up to his/her failures? Does he/she consistently act in a responsible manner? Employees are subject to a number of rules. Does the employee consistently comply with rules and regulations applicable to him/her and his/her job?
  8. Job Skill Level
    This criterion relates particularly to the mental and/or manual skills required in a given position. A craftsman's basic skills are readily identified, while many office occupations include job skills which are relatively obscure. Does the employee consistently demonstrate at a proper level the skills prerequisite to entry in the job class? Has he/she made efforts to improve his/her basic skill levels? Does he/she have potential for acquiring or developing his/her job skills to higher levels of proficiency? Should he/she undertake a brush-up or back-to school program? Has he/she taken advantage of in-service training opportunities? Does he/she read technical publications related to his/her work?
  9. Safety Practices
    All employees, even those who do not work under physically hazardous circumstances, must comply with reasonable safety practices, particularly in situations involving pupils. These practices may reflect specific supervisory directives, or simply forethought for potentially dangerous conditions and the use of good common sense. Does the employee endanger his/her own safety or the safety of others by his/her actions? Does he/she help to prevent accidents by practicing good safety procedures?

Supervisory Performance Criteria (For those who supervise and evaluate the work of others)

  1. Planning and Organizing
    Knowledge, talent and mental effort are required in planning and organizing the work of subordinates. Does the supervisor constantly keep alert to possibilities of work simplification? How well does he/she analyze and then put into effect improved and more efficient work processes? Does he/she plan improvements or changes and effect them in a logical and systematic manner?
  2. Scheduling and Coordinating
    This is the next logical step and is a critical phase of the supervisor's function. Does the supervisor effect the necessary scheduling or rescheduling of work? Does he/she provide the necessary personal coordination of the work, not only among his/her subordinates, but more importantly, between other work sections, departments, and divisions? When schedules are changed in some work areas, does he/she provide for the maintenance or adjustment of related work schedules elsewhere?
  3. Training and Instruction
    Training refers to orientation of new employees or to the demonstration and exploration of technical methods, procedures, and rules in which the new employee cannot be expected to be competent.  It also refers to introducing permanent employees to changing materials, methods, procedures, and techniques, as well as improving basic qualifying skills to their highest potential level. Instruction, while allied to training, refers more to day-to-day, or periodic, surveillance and supervision of employee performance. It may be an occasional word about such things as telephone techniques, or how to put a sharper edge on a cutting tool; or it may be a planned, periodic get-together of a small group of employees in which effective methods, techniques, and standard procedures are explained, demonstrated, and reviewed. Does the supervisor plan and carry out a program of orientation and training for new employees? Does he/she provide for the correction of any technical skill deficiencies in new employees? Does he/she provide training for permanent employees in new methods and procedures? Does he/she assist employees in self-development programs?
  4. Productivity
    This factor is designed to measure the results achieved by the supervisor and his/her subordinates. Are all assigned functions of the supervisor and of the staff responsible to him/her accomplished? Completely? On time? Is the quality of work produced by the supervisor and his/her staff up to standard? Does the supervisor improvise and find ways to make up for the failures of others? Does he/she anticipate problems, or is he/she surprised and "caught short" when they arise?
  5. Evaluating Subordinates
    Measures the accuracy and manner in which the supervisor approaches and completes the formal evaluation of his/her subordinates. Does the supervisor exhibit a good balance of constructive criticism and praise in evaluating employees? Does he/she indicate how an employee's work may be improved, when improvement is needed? Are his/her evaluations consistently objective, fair, and accurate?
  6. Judgments and Decisions
    Refers to the practical exercise of authority and responsibility by the supervisor. Does the supervisor exhibit firmness and fairness in judgments affecting employees? Is he/she accurate in making judgments affecting functional goals? Are his/her judgments always in accord with the best interests of the District? Does he/she balance employee and District interests when these are not fully compatible?
  7. Leadership
    Does the supervisor spur subordinates to their best efforts through example and force of personality rather than relying on the authority of his/her position? Does he/she mold them into a group or team whose cooperative and willing endeavors surpass their individual performances collectively? Does his/her intelligent exercise of leadership create an atmosphere in which employee attitudes are optimistic and positive, in which production potentials are consistently realized, and in which the goals of the organization are consistently met or exceeded?
  8. Operational Economy
    Evaluate the conservation of time and material. Is the supervisor truly budget conscious? Does he/she live within his/her budgets? Does he/she make careful and accurate budget estimates? Does he/she know, or periodically calculate, operational costs for units or phases of his/her operational responsibilities? Is he/she able to identify uneconomical procedures, methods, tools, or equipment? Does he/she recommend changed policies or procedures which might affect dollar economies?
  9. Supervisory Control
    Refers to the maintenance of order in all areas of supervisory jurisdiction. Do the supervisor's employees perform their duties and functions in an orderly and disciplined manner which is in harmony with the environment and which promotes work objectives? Do the employees have a clear understanding of behavior and performance standards which are expected? Does the supervisor enforce these standards consistently? Is the supervisor "accepted" by his subordinates and in full control at all times?

Blank spaces have been provided for any supervisory criteria the rater feels should be written in and included as additional determinates of supervisory effectiveness. These may come under the heading of particular qualities or skills, without which effective supervision cannot be achieved.

Factors such as oral or written expression, thoroughness, or accuracy may figure significantly in fulfilling the requirements of a particular position. Less tangible traits of character such as integrity, patience, and courage, while they may be desirable and important, do not themselves measure results, and should be avoided as evaluation factors unless a direct relationship can be demonstrated.

Forms Required: Performance Appraisal Report Form for Classified Supervisors, SDCCD form 4300.2-A

Goal Setting Process and Performance Setting

An important purpose of the goal-setting program is to provide a periodic review of job descriptions and an assessment of goals and objectives. Formulating the desired and attainable goals depends upon unambiguous and reasonable job descriptions, because individuals can be held accountable only for job objectives set in advance and agreed to by both the supervisor and the employee. The job description is an important useful document in the development process. Its periodic review and revision can improve job understanding and contribute to better performance.

What are Goal Setting Criteria

The supervisor and the employee will need to determine appropriate performance criteria. Criteria will vary as to individual development needs, job requirements, and performance expectations. Following are some examples of criteria which can help supervisors and employees agree on the application of various components of a job. Often there are quantitative measures of performance as well. Each supervisor and employee must select criteria that are relevant to their own situation, and these should be determined prior to the start of the goal-setting cycle. Criteria should apply directly to job performance to achieve accurate and comprehensive appraisal, planning, and problem-solving. Human Resources is prepared to offer guidance in determining criteria.


Ability To General Characteristics Concern For
Make Decisions Job knowledge Safety for self, others
Work Independently Quality of work Responsibility for personal performance
Organize Work Quantity of work  
Supervise others Ability to deal with varying situations Meeting commitments, deadlines
Work well with others, including emphasis on "consumer" Dependability, Judgment Supporting managerial decisions
Follow through Readiness to assume responsibility Self-development and growth
Train others    
Plan under pressure Performance under pressure Recognizing achievement of others
Evaluate Response to criticism, suggestions Developing allied job
Meet objectives    
Maintain Budgets Creativity Attendance, punctuality
Initiate Ideas Commitment to department objectives  
Understand Instructions Pride of Work Awareness of student needs
Analyze Decisiveness  

The aforementioned criteria are reasonable, job-related indicators, but they are by no means the only criteria. Many more job-specific standards of performance will be added as experience is gained with the goal-setting process.

Goal-setting emphasizes measurable, observable behavior which affects how a staff member performs his/her job--both the plusses and the minuses. Because it can be seen or measured, it can be rationally discussed, improved, and rewarded.

Goal-Setting for Permanent Employees

Mutual goal-setting perhaps is the most suitable for experienced staff. Prior to the interview, the employee submits to his/her supervisor a list of goals for the current year. This list includes goals promoting departmental and broader District objectives and professional growth and development.

As a result of the discussion, a list of goals agreed to by both is drawn up. This "contract" serves as a guidepost against which the employee measures progress. At the next goal-setting session the employee submits a written review of achievement of goals, and this review is discussed--the supervisor adds written comments. At the subsequent meeting the goals are set for the following period. The employee and supervisor each retain a dated copy of the report signed by both.

Procedures for Goal Setting Process

  1. The supervisor and the employee may wish to review the employee's current job description for the following: accuracy, clarification, and the need to assign new duties as appropriate.
  2. The employee and supervisor may wish to employ the self-evaluation strategy previously mentioned (refer to Approaches to Appraisals) in order to ascertain areas of strengths and weaknesses of the employee's previous performance and determine areas of professional growth. This can be a joint process or an individual process with the employee advising the supervisor of his/her needs relative to the aforementioned.
  3. The employee and the supervisor may wish to meet jointly to determine appropriate performance criteria and the goals and objectives to be met for the forthcoming assessment period.
  4. Within 10 days, the employee should submit to the supervisor his/her goals and objectives in terms of quality, quantity, and personal growth.
  5. After the supervisor has had the opportunity to review the employee's goals, the supervisor within five (5) days should again counsel the employee in terms of whether the goals are realistic. Also at this time, the supervisor should assist the employee in developing a realistic time frame for those goals to be accomplished.
  6. At least once quarterly the supervisor should ask the employee if he/she needs assistance in meeting his/her goals.
  7. Finally, it should be remembered that a number of variables may interfere with the employee reaching all of his/her goals. What may have seemed reasonable at the time you and the employee mutually agreed upon goals work priorities may have changed, making those goals unrealistic. 

Forms Required:
Statement of Goals and Objectives (Rev 11-1-78)
Performance Appraisal Report Form for Classified Employees (SDCCD Form 4300.2)