Conducting Annual Reviews

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Annual reviews are intended to provide constructive assessment that contributes to professional and career development. Annual reviews allow Unit Executive Officers to review goals and accomplishments, discuss suggestions for improvements, and facilitate pathways to achieve career aspirations with each faculty and staff member. While the focus of this tip sheet is on Faculty Annual Reviews, the same principles of clear standards, input from multiple sources, and opportunities for self-reflection are expected throughout the annual review process for academic professionals and civil service staff as well.

  1. Ensure that your unit’s faculty annual review process, policies, and procedures are clear and transparent to all your faculty members. Make the written policies and procedures available and accessible to your faculty members (e.g., shared Box file). It is also important that you regularly review your policies and procedures to make sure that they stay aligned with your Unit’s bylaws and campus guidelines. Anticipate common questions and encourage your faculty members to ask for clarification when needed.
  2. Engage a committee of faculty members to review faculty annual reports and provide input. This could be the Unit’s Executive Committee, Faculty Advisory Committee, or Promotion and Tenure committee. Obtaining multiple perspectives provides helpful context for the evaluation.
  3. Establish clear expectations about how faculty members are being evaluated. Identify the metrics, guidelines, and standards of success that will inform your evaluation. Equitable and fair workload expectations for faculty members should be included in your unit’s written policies and procedures. Share those expectations with your unit’s faculty members early and often.
  4. Design an annual review process that encourages faculty members to engage in self-reflection. Allowing faculty members to reflect on their career goals and how they are achieving them can help you in your role as the Unit Executive Officer to facilitate the faculty members’ development. Asking each individual faculty member to prepare and share a short narrative about their progress, rather than simply listing their achievements, is an important part of that self-reflection.
  5. Use the annual review process to help faculty members establish short- and long-term personal and professional goals. Specifically, the annual review process provides an opportunity for faculty members to take stock of their teaching, research, and service activities relative to the university’s overall mission. A thorough review of activities can be the impetus for faculty members to change, re-orient, or re-align their goals and priorities in the coming year.
  6. Ensure that mid-career and senior faculty members continue to actively participate in the annual review process. A faculty member’s activities and concerns will change over a career. Junior faculty members may primarily be focused on P&T while some mid-career faculty members might be focused on re-tooling their research agenda. Thus, the Annual Review process is important for faculty members to engage in at all career stages, not just for junior faculty members.
  7. Sit down with individual faculty members to discuss their progress and performance before preparing the final written version of the report. Ask thoughtful questions (e.g., “What accomplishments are you most proud of?” or “In which areas would you like to work on moving forward?”) and listen carefully to their response. Being receptive to the faculty member’s comments can go a long way to enhancing your ability to effectively communicate with faculty members. Be prepared to respond to comments in an honest and sincere way (e.g., “I have not thought of it that way,” “I can see why you would think that,” “This is why this is important,” or “I don’t know the answer, let me find out”).
  8. At the conclusion of the process, provide written feedback to the faculty member. Your feedback on their self-report should include more than a recitation of the faculty member’s performance, but also provide an action plan, informed by the faculty member, for continued professional growth.
  9. Separate the process of annual review from the process to determine salary/merit pay. While a performance review is necessary to determine salary adjustments, the annual review process is an opportunity for faculty development and professional growth. By not conflating compensation with performance feedback, you and the faculty member can focus on the important aspects of the annual review and create an atmosphere where respectful conversations and problem-solving can occur.
  10. If a faculty member disagrees with his or her annual review, engage in informal interactions and problem-solving efforts in order to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution. Your unit’s process for faculty annual reviews should include clear guidelines on steps both the Unit Executive Officer and the faculty member can take in cases where there is a dispute (i.e., the faculty member may append a written response to any document in the file; the Unit Executive Officer or faculty member may invoke a broader faculty review; see Provost Communication #21). Remember that respectful and collegial conversations will help prevent misunderstandings.


Campus Guidelines For Conducting Annual Reviews

Communication #21: Annual Faculty Review
Communication #22: Annual Review of Academic Professional Employees
Performance Review for Civil Service Employees

For further assistance with faculty and career development, call the Office of the Provost at 217-333-6677.