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IV.3. Annual Performance reviews
The annual performance review may vary by employee classification. Regardless of classification, however, all employees have access to their own personnel files.
- Civil service staff. For each staff member, HRS provides the appropriate form for the civil service performance review. Unlike the schedule for other university employees, annual civil service reviews are scheduled based on the starting date of employment. Once the form arrives from HRS, it is the chair’s task to initiate the evaluation of the staff who report to her or him, including a brief conference with each employee concerning her or his job performance. At this time, the employee also allowed to respond in writing to any comments provided by the chair in the evaluation process. The evaluation is based on professional performance related to the job description; and every effort should be made to avoid personalizing feedback. This cannot be over-stated. A highly positive evaluation will require a written explanation from the chair; however, unearned praise can create difficulty later on in the event that there is a needed performance correction. Likewise, a highly negative evaluation can be demoralizing for the staff member, especially if there is any personal strain in the relationship. As with any supervisory role, the chair is best served by open and timely feedback with her or his office staff rather than relying on the evaluation process to initiate a conversation. Annual performance reviews are also important to the maintenance of a high-quality operating staff at NIU. Past evaluations are available to chairs and other authorized department personnel when a position comes open for rehire; fair and candid evaluations are the best insurance that one department’s problem will not be inherited in a subsequent hire.
- Instructors. In 1992, the instructors at NIU voted to unionize, establishing Local Chapter #4100 of the University Professionals of Illinois. Under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the department chair has a set of responsibilities to instructors to fulfill, including but not limited to making offers of employment, hiring, assigning workloads, and conducting annual performance reviews (see CBA, Article 6). Article 6 of the CBA lays out a standard set of factors or criteria that can and should be used in evaluating instructors who perform various functions for the university. If a chair wants to add some new factor or criterion that is not included among the standard set, the chair must get the approval of the majority of the instructors who will be affected by the change or addition. The chair is then responsible for conducting the instructors' annual performance reviews based on these criteria and forward a copy of the reviews to HRS.
- Supportive Professional Staff. Supportive Professional Staff (SPS) are professionals who provide expertise and support for offices and colleges at NIU and its regional locations. They are appointed by the Board of Trustees and are designated as “faculty no-rank.” There are several hundred SPS employees at NIU, a large portion of whom are serving educational and technical roles within the university. The interests of SPS staff are represented by the Supportive Professional Staff Council (SPSC). SPS staff members are evaluated by their supervisors; in academic departments, the supervisor is generally the department chair. HRS sends the appropriate forms to the department every spring; chairs and other unit heads must complete the annual reviews by June 30th and return them to HRS. Details are available in the SPS Handbook, which is linked to the SPSC website.
- Tenure-track faculty (a.k.a. regular faculty). In compliance with the Constitution and Bylaws, Article 6.12, each department has an approved method of calculating faculty merit ratings and recommendations for faculty salary increments. This personnel responsibility is also part of the dual track system, carried out by the department’s Personnel Committee, with a separate role for the department chair. It is also part of the chair’s responsibility to initiate the request for Faculty Service Reports (FSR). The FSR is the main method by which faculty members report their annual accomplishments in teaching, research/artistry, and service. The FSR is completed by tenure-track faculty at the start of each spring semester and reports on the accomplishments of the previous calendar year. Each College has its own FSR process; and department chairs should familiarize themselves with the process and deadlines.