Annual Staff Performance Evaluation Update

Seattle University is committed to ensuring all staff receive a formal performance evaluation with their supervisor. Receiving and providing feedback fosters both a confirmation for our contributions and provides an opportunity to learn and grow. While annual performance evaluations normally launch in early June, we recognize the current campus work environment has presented challenges which create a level of uncertainty around the process. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the thoughtful feedback and suggestions that have been shared in various staff fora related to ways which the process itself might be changed or improved.  

As a result, a decision has been made to shift the timing of the performance evaluations from the current budget year cycle to the calendar year. This means that there will not be an annual performance review this summer and that the next annual assessment would take place in early 2021. Following the shift, the performance cycle will more closely align with future merit pay decisions. As an added benefit, there will be additional time for supervisors and staff to adapt goals, work expectations and job duties to the new operational realities presented by our changing work environment. 

In order to reflect Seattle University’s commitment to feedback and development, a new midyear check-in will be introduced to take place from June through September. While voluntary, staff and supervisors are encouraged to utilize this mid-year process to alter or adapt goals and expectations, discuss accomplishments and assess opportunities for personal development. This process will not involve performance ratings yet will involve a modified self-assessment and short form to assist in fostering a productive dialogue. 

Starting in January of 2021 there is a planned change of the full annual staff performance evaluation process, an update of the existing annual evaluation form, and rating system. We will begin working to research, develop, and implement a new annual evaluation system commencing in 2021. This will involve working with key stakeholder groups such as the cabinet, deans, colleagues working in mission and ministry, supervisors and staff council to gain feedback in the design and roll out of the new system. 

As shared previously, the annual staff evaluation process aligns well with the Jesuit imperative for reflection and discernment and our mission’s focus on professional formation.  Our campus community is encouraged to engage in continual feedback throughout the year. These changes to the formal evaluation process allows us to further strengthen our resolve to honor the efforts, commitments, and accomplishments to our staff and by our staff. 

Performance Evaluation Timeline

Year Ending FY 2020


Mid-Year Review Process Opens Staff member receives an email to log into EngageSU and complete a brief self-review.  Human Resources & Staff Member June 10th - June 19th
Mid-Year Self-Review is Completed Staff member completes self-review by this date and submits on EngageSU to their supervisor. Self-review no longer available after this date.  Staff Member June 19th
Write & Deliver Mid-Year Reviews Supervisor completes mid-year review of staff and delivers to staff member over Zoom.  Supervisor June 22nd - July 24th
Mid-Year Review Delivered Staff member should review the mid-year review written by their supervisor. Can also be pulled up in EngageSU anytime.  Staff Member July 27th - July 31st
System Closes All mid-year reviews are finalized and stored electronically on EngageSU. Human Resources July 31st 

Please note that the system will automatically advance the form to the next step at the end date. However, supervisors and reviewers can agree to complete these tasks in advance of these dates. 

Helpful Resources

The Employment Lifecycle

Thinking Beyond Performance Evaluation

While much attention is given to annual performance evaluations and their connection to merit-based pay, this annual event represents only one aspect of the overall career engagement cycle which is a continuous, year-round process that includes:

  1. Ensuring clear job expectations and role clarity
  2. Working in partnership with your supervisor to develop of annual goals with key measures
  3. Creating a dynamic plan to foster your professional and personal growth and development
  4. Engaging in constant, two-way feedback to ensure professional formation and progress toward goals are occurring
  5. Reflecting on and capturing all of these activities through the annual performance evaluation process at the end of the fiscal year which then leads into planning for the next year

While supervisors are ultimately accountable for assuring this cycle occurs, we believe our employees share the responsibility to participate and fully engage in the process and outcomes. This mutual accountability and respect is at the core of honoring this process and our people.

Why Performance Evaluations Matter

Here are some frequently asked questions on performance evaluations at Seattle University and some improvements that are being made to the process.

What is the purpose of performance evaluations?

At Seattle University, we are committed to ensuring all staff receive a formal performance evaluation with their supervisor once per year. Receiving and providing feedback fosters both a confirmation for our contributions and provides an opportunity to learn and grow. The annual performance evaluation is a time set aside each year to reflect on the year that has passed and celebrate achievements. It is also a time to look to the future and think about areas for development or improvement that will help advance the individual both personally and professionally, within the context of the goals and mission of the university.

How does the performance evaluation process relate to Seattle University’s Jesuit identity?

The performance evaluation process aligns well with the Jesuit imperative for reflection and discernment. While it should be something that occurs informally throughout the year, we set aside this time to make sure that we honor the efforts and commitments that have been made.

Because of this we ask that the employee as well as the supervisor put their best effort into this endeavor and fully engage in the process including completion of a self-evaluation, a robust and balanced evaluation and discussion with the supervisor and employee, and a focus on personal and professional development as an outcome of the evaluation. Finally, there should be time devoted to establishing goals for the upcoming year.

What changes are being made to Seattle University’s performance evaluation process for the upcoming cycle?

We have added some minor edits to the questions to try to clarify that the focus should not only be on what was achieved over the past year, but that it is equally important that these results occurred in alignment with our mission and values. We are also moving to utilize a new automated module within engageSU that will provide greater transparency, and access to evaluations while also establishing a platform for future evolution of the evaluation process.

How does the performance evaluation fit into the bigger picture of the employee-supervisor relationship?

As shown in the career engagement cycle, the annual review is only one component of an ongoing process that should occur throughout the year, starting with development and growth.

The annual performance evaluation process obviously aligns well with the Jesuit imperative for reflection and discernment. While it should be something that occurs informally throughout the year, we set aside this time to make sure that we honor the efforts and commitments that have been made.

Michelle Clements Vice President, Human Resources

Development and Growth

While the performance evaluation can serve as springboard for individual growth and development, it is important to devote time to capturing this dialogue in written form as an Individual Development Plan or IDP. The IDP can take the form of skills, capabilities or knowledge that improves the current work experience, as preparation for career advancement, or related to some areas of interest outside of work. Each area identified should be accompanied by an activity that will help promote development and there should be timeframes or outcomes that are agreed upon. IDPs are best implemented as “living” documents that are discussed at regular intervals with the supervisor and employee—hopefully as part of regularly scheduled one-on-ones devoted to this purpose. The best way to construct IDPs is to focus on learning activity followed by an application or deliverable. For example, attending a professional conference could be a valuable learning activity but it could be accompanied by a deliverable of preparing a summary or highlights that are shared with the remainder of the team who were not able to attend.

Seattle University offers many unique opportunities and benefits for development including tuition remission to further one’s education as well as numerous lectures, cultural events and volunteer opportunities. In addition, plans are underway to provide access to a large library of online material that can be utilized for individual or group learning focused on professional development and skill building. This library will be accessed through the engageSU platform that already contains some university-wide resources. The beauty of this format is that the material is always accessible for just-in-time training or refreshers.

Role Clarity and Expectations

One of the most common sources of conflict in any organization is a lack of communication and mutual understanding related to the expectations around an employee’s job duties. While job descriptions are a helpful starting point, they rarely capture all the day-to-day issues that come up in any given role.

In addition, job descriptions do not provide clarity around prioritizing activities when inevitable questions arise over what needs to be done first. Regular dialogue around expectations is therefore critical and should be part of regular one-on-one meetings. This dialogue also forms the basis for why the self-evaluation is such an important part of the evaluation process since it gives the employee an opportunity to outline all of the areas they have worked on during the year, some of which might not be readily apparent to others, including the supervisor.

Goal Setting

Along with role clarity, goal setting is another key way for supervisors and employees to establish more transparency and a foundation for success. Taking the time to establish goals, action plans to achieve these goals and timelines for check-ins or completion helps to set priorities and provides a clearer picture of what success looks like. The best goals are aligned with the success of the department or institution and are clear in terms of how success will be measured. Goals should also be reasonable in terms of the number of areas that can be successfully addressed. For example, it is recommended that goals range from three to five in total, and be constructed in a way that provides measures, milestones or observations to facilitate completion. While goals should be formally discussed each year, there should be ongoing dialogue about their feasibility based on new areas of focus that might that might require a goal to be adapted, postponed or dropped.

In order to better facilitate, record and update goals, engageSU has a module that will be activated and can be utilized by supervisors and employees.


Feedback and communication are an ongoing responsibility for both employees and supervisors. Another source of conflict or dissatisfaction occurs when there is a lack of communication. Both employees and supervisors should schedule time for quick, regular check-ins to provide feedback, inform, ask questions or get clarity around the work or environment. Since this is a mutual dialogue, all parties should come prepared to contribute as well as actively listen. Frequent feedback provides an opportunity to celebrate or discuss success or identify opportunities for improvement in a timely manner, before they become much larger issues. It is highly recommended that feedback and communication take place in face-to-face discussions and that the use of e-mail be limited to memorializing or capturing the outcomes of the discussions. This allows for all involved to avoid misinterpretations and bring their “whole self” to the interaction.