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Performance Feedback FAQs

What happened to the old forms?

I see Career Conversations, but what happened to the old forms?

The Division of Human Resources designed Career Conversations based on extensive research and UA community input. While we consider Career Conversations an innovative approach to support employee success, departments may continue to use their former evaluation approaches. If you have any questions, please contact the Division of Human Resources at (520) 621-3660 or

Career Conversations

What are Career Conversations?

Career Conversations are structured discussions between employees and their supervisors that are designed to support employee success through reflection, planning, problem solving, and honest and constructive feedback. Career Conversations begin when employees reflect on significant accomplishments, key strengths, and plans for the future. 

Why did the University move to this approach?

During 2015 and 2016, Human Resources sponsored gatherings with more than 300 employees and supervisors to collect feedback about the University’s current performance management approach. Both employees and supervisors expressed interest in a more honest, practical, forward-looking approach that enhances performance and supports positive working relationships. 

What is the value of honest, direct and regular feedback?

-Better performance and higher productivity

-Stronger teams and work groups

-More trust

-Greater job satisfaction

-Early alerts about performance concerns

Why do the Career Conversations address strengths?

We do our best work and are most engaged when we are encouraged to use our individual strengths. Conversations about strengths may provide employees and supervisors with the opportunity to offer or modify responsibilities in alignment with interests and areas of mastery.  

What kinds of strengths should be noted?

We all have very different strengths and they are applied in many ways. The Strengths Examples list included in Career Conversations guide may help employees think about the strengths they bring to their roles.

How should the do more, do less, start, stop, or change section be completed?

We asked several employees for examples of items they plan to include in this section to create a list of Do More, Do Less, Start, Stop, or Change Examples, which you will find in the Career Conversations guide.

What if a supervisor disagrees with the key accomplishments, strengths, or plans for the future an employee has reported?

We encourage supervisors to be honest and share their perspective. Supervisor may note these disagreements in writing or invite the employee to revise their content based on the Career Conversation.

What if an employee disagrees with the supervisor’s comments?

We appreciate it can be difficult to express disagreement with a supervisor, but honest conversations make for better working relationships. If the supervisor chooses not to change the comments, the employee may document the disagreement on the Career Conversation form. 

Why are there no ratings?

Ratings can detract from meaningful conversation and each supervisor applies ratings differently, meaning ratings cannot be compared across supervisors. Employees and supervisors alike say that ratings are hard to determine, create unnecessary stress, and often damage relationships.

Aren’t ratings required to make decisions about discipline and continued employment?

Quality comments with specific details are more helpful in guiding decision making than ratings.

Aren’t ratings required to make decisions about pay increases?

Pay decisions are best made based on contributions, internal equity, and external market factors. Quality comments with specific details can be more helpful in assessing contributions than are ratings, which likely vary depending on whether a supervisor is a “hard” or “easy” grader.

Should Career Conversations be used to document unsatisfactory performance?

Career Conversations may provide an opportunity to reiterate performance expectations or highlight concerns about the future, but supervisors are strongly advised not to delay conversations about the need for performance improvement.  Addressing performance concerns with an employee as soon as they emerge and developing an improvement plan prevents problems from escalating.

How do Career Conversations work?

  1. Employee: completes SELF-REFLECTION and PLANNING sections of the Career Conversation template based on agreements made during the previous Career Conversation or performance review.
  2. Supervisor: schedules a time for a Career Conversation meeting, and in preparation for the Career Conversation, reviews employee self-reflection and plan and makes discussion notes.
  3. Employee and Supervisor: have Career Conversation.
  4. Supervisor: makes summary comments and signs off on the Career Conversations document.
  5. Employee: reviews, acknowledges receipt of supervisor comments, and offers optional final comments.
  6. Both Employee and Supervisor: use completed Career Conversation for periodic and informal Career Conversation Check-ins.   

How often should Career Conversations occur?

Career conversations should be conducted on a regular basis and documented in writing at least once a year.

What are Career Conversation Check-Ins?

Career Conversation Check-Ins are periodic and informal conversations to ensure that an employee is on track with established plans. These check-ins can also be used to identify and address any concerns the employee or supervisor might have. Employees are encouraged to lead these conversations and to be prepared with check-in questions such as:

  1. Am I on track based on the Career Conversation plan we created?
  2. Would you consider letting me have “quiet time” for two hours a day?
  3. Have you heard concerns about my work on the project committee?
  4. Can we discuss how I might work better with Veronica?
  5. Could I lead the next project team you create?
  6. What do I need to do to be considered for the next managerial opening?

Where do completed Career Conversations go?

Departments, supervisors, and employees should each retain a copy of their completed Career Conversations to refer to throughout the year, particularly during Career Conversation check-ins. The Division of Human Resources also sometimes requests to see a copy of an employee’s Career Conversations during dispute resolutions and investigations. Human Resources is exploring ways to move the performance feedback process into UAccess, saving supervsiors and employees time and automating many steps. In the meantime, if they choose to, departments may send a copy to:

Division of Human Resources Employee Records
888 North Euclid Ave. Room, 115
P.O. Box 210158
Tucson, AZ 85721-0158


Career Conversations and Salary Increases

How do Career Conversations affect salary increases?

Career Conversations will not interfere with salary increases. Ratings are not required for an employee to eligible for a salary increase. 

How can supervisors differentiate levels of performance without ratings?

Supervisors can document an employee's contributions and provide comments that indicate whether the employee is not meeting, meeting, or exceeding performance standards. The sample Career Conversations in the Career Conversation Guide illustrate how different levels of performance can be presented in writing. If an employee is not meeting performance expectations, there should be documentation of that in the form of a memo or written statements in a Career Conversations document. 

How can supervisors make salary recommendations without ratings? That seems subjective.

Ratings are equally subjective, because every supervisor applies ratings differently. Supervisors know who their top performers are and don’t need ratings to make these distinctions.

In fact, Career Conversations were created in response to campus concerns about the subjectivity of ratings and their lack of utility in supporting employees to advance their skills and careers.

Does a performance evaluation or Career Conversation have to be “on file” for an employee to be eligible for a performance increase?

Performance feedback simply for the purpose of justifying a salary increase is unlikely to be helpful. If a performance increase is going to be withheld, there must be documentation explaining the performance deficit.

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