Assessing performance fairly and reasonably
Like most of us, an employee had a formal performance agreement for the year, agreed with their manager. When it came to the end-cycle performance assessment, the manager rated the employee as ‘needs improvement’.
The employee felt this was an unfair rating, and applied for a review with their agency.
The internal review didn’t resolve the issue to the employee’s satisfaction, so they applied to us for a secondary review.
Our role was to look at all of the available evidence, and to decide what the correct or preferable decision was. That is, what was the most appropriate rating of the employee’s performance.
We looked at information like:
- the employee’s submissions
- the manager’s point of view
- work samples
- the employee’s role description, and the nature of their work
- feedback and training given to the employee throughout the performance cycle.
In the employee’s view, they had not had enough training to be able to perform well in their role. They also considered that the rating of their performance was unfairly focused on one aspect of their job.
When we conducted our review we asked ourselves the following questions:
- In the individual circumstances of the employee’s case, was the way their performance was assessed fair and reasonable?
- If not, what is the preferable decision?
After we looked at all of the available information, we formed the view that the decision was not fair. This was because the employee had been absent from duty for a significant amount of time, and had not worked enough days to have their performance fairly assessed. We also felt that the performance assessment didn’t consider the full nature of their duties. A key concern was that the employee wasn’t given any feedback throughout the performance cycle, which meant they didn’t have an opportunity to improve. It also appeared that the employee wasn’t given any training in their role.
In our view, the preferable decision was to record an ‘incomplete’ rating on the performance cycle, rather than saying the employee needed improvement. We therefore recommended the manager’s decision be set aside. The agency agreed with this recommendation.