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Performance planning, performance reviews and staff development (academic staff)

Performance planning, performance reviews and staff development | Performance assessment | Performance categories |
COE implications for under- and unsatisfactory performance | Review of ad hominem promotions process

This should be read in conjunction with the Policy framework on performance assessment for academic staff (24 November 2010).

View the academic performance management process.

  1. Performance planning, performance reviews and staff development

    UCT seeks to provide academic staff with optimal opportunities for professional development and career advancement. To this end, opportunities are afforded annually to each member of the academic staff for planning and reviewing his/her performance with his/her Head of Department (HOD) and for discussing development issues.

    In this process the term review is used to describe a general feedback session (a two-way exchange between staff member and HOD) of workload and work performance; whereas a performance assessment results in a performance category for a staff member. The latter is covered in point 2.

    1. 1.1 Each staff member should plan and review his/her activities with the Head of Department. It is recommended that this be an annual meeting. In large departments Section Heads may carry out these reviews. The timing for this is usually mid year, for the following calendar year. The plan and review should take place in the context of a staff member's portfolio. The contents of portfolios are Faculty-specific, within the framework on performance assessment for academic staff approved by Senate and Council in 2010. Portfolios should cover all work. Portfolios are intended to be updated on an annual basis, and not recreated each year.
    2. 1.2 The Head of Department should consider the work portfolio or other, departmentally-agreed forms of documentation for the current year and the plan for the following year and review with the staff member how this work load compares to departmental norms. The HOD should make every effort to ensure equity in the workload of the staff. Such equity in workload is considered to be the very foundation for a fair assessment of the quality of that work.
    3. 1.3 The discussion with the Head of Department should cover teaching & learning, research, administrative / management / leadership work (at Departmental, Faculty and University level), social responsiveness work (production and dissemination of knowledge for public benefit), and any other activities involving creative work appropriate to the University.
    4. 1.4 The development needs of staff should be addressed. Areas of particular strength should be identified and recognised; similarly areas of weakness or low output should also be identified. Where appropriate, plans for improvement and/or development should be discussed and recorded.
    5. 1.5 Plans for the following year should be discussed and recorded, so that expectations are clear both to the staff member and the Head of Department. In this context, career development opportunities and needs should be considered with, for example, strategies for preparation for ad hominem promotion set out and understood.
    6. 1.6 A staff member wishing to apply for ad hominem promotion, for a merit award or for above SASP (Standard Academic Package) reward may use the above annual planning and review meeting as the opportunity for a performance assessment. He/she should draw to the attention of the Head of Department any special features or areas of strength and merit, which should be taken into account for performance assessment (see point 2).

    A template is available for recording the outcomes of the above discussion (HR form HR174). A template is also available for performance assessment (HR form HR175).

  2. Performance assessment

    A performance assessment differs from a review in that the HOD is required to make a recommendation on performance.

    1. 2.1 Notes on the Process

      The timing for performance assessment is mid-year.

      Deans and/or HODs may write to staff requesting applications for the recognition of high achievement.

      However, irrespective of what applications are received for the recognition of high achievement, HODs must assess all staff for the SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package). The HOD must indicate which performance category/(ies) he/she believes the staff member falls within (see point 3). This must be done for all academic staff including Professors. It is not necessary for an HOD to have a full formal performance assessment interview with every staff member every year.

      Performance assessment interviews and reports are necessary when:

      • The HOD wishes to recommend someone as a high achiever, to be considered for ad hominem promotion, for a merit award (for Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Associate Professor) or for an above SASP award (for Professorial level only),
      • The HOD assesses someone as an under- or unsatisfactory performer, and/or
      • The HOD assesses a staff member as a good performer, but the staff member contests this and wishes to apply to the Faculty Remuneration and Promotion Committee for recognition as a high achiever.

        Note: Anything recorded by an HOD about an academic member of staff's performance, which is to be used by the HOD or the Faculty Promotion and Remuneration Committee for the assessment of the staff member must be discussed by the HOD and the staff member.

      A staff member who believes he/she is a high achiever should use the rating system (see point 2.2) and/or an updated portfolio and request an interview with the HOD. The HOD has the option to call in another person from the faculty to assist in the assessment interview if he/she wishes (e.g. an HOD who is not a full Professor may wish to call in a Professor when the assessment of a Professor is being conducted.) Note that the HOD (the assessor) may also consult with other colleagues before an assessment interview. Likewise, the Dean may consult members of a department before assessing an HOD.

      Where the HOD assesses a staff member as a high achiever, the HOD will send a report and recommendation to the Faculty Promotions and Remuneration Committee. (Recommendations for ad hominem promotion to full Professor level are required to be supported by the Dean in the first instance in some faculties.)

      The staff member may apply to the Faculty Promotions and Remuneration Committee for recognition as a high achiever irrespective of whether or not the HOD supports the assessment rating. The HOD's assessment is then required to be considered by the Faculty Promotions and Remuneration Committee.

      Interviews must be granted where staff request it (e.g. where the HOD and staff member differ in their perception of the performance). The Faculty Promotions and Remuneration Committee will then decide on the staff member's performance level. This is the final decision level, so that there is the equivalent of an appeal process where the HOD and staff member disagree on the performance assessment.

      Interviews must also take place where the HOD rates a staff member as an under performer or an unsatisfactory performer. For under and unsatisfactory performance a report must be submitted to the Dean and the Procedure for Addressing Under- and Unsatisfactory Performance must be followed.

      The time frame for an assessment is different to that for a review. A review is normally annual, but an assessment includes the assessment of the full portfolio with particular emphasis on the most recent work. The concept of "fading memory" should be applied such that more recent work is given higher weighting than other work. It is acknowledged that the "cycle" for academic work is probably 3 or even 5 years.

    2. 2.2 The rating system

      Each Faculty has a framework for a rating system against which staff are ranked. These rating systems are set out in the Senate-appoved faculty-specific SASP criteria by which levels of performance and achievement can be recognised. The list of attributes has been adapted by each Faculty. Each rating system attempts to provide an objective set of criteria against which candidates are ranked and scored. However, the scores provide a guideline only, and judgement needs to be exercised in addition to the list of attributes. (Faculty rating systems are available from Dean's offices).

  3. Performance categories

    There are 5 broad categories of performance:

    • Ad Hominem promotion
    • SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) level of performance
    • Above SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) award for Professors
    • Merit Awards for Lecturers, Senior Lecturers and Associate Professors
    • Below SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) level of performance

    Each performance category is always relative to that expected for the rank of the staff member. However at the levels of Assistant Lecturer and Lecturer, academic staff are expected to progress in time to at least the level of Senior Lecturer. Hence good performance for a young academic at Assistant Lecturer level, may in later years be seen as under- performance if academic progress is not achieved.

    1. 3.1 Eligibility for ad hominem promotion
      1. 3.1.1 University conditions of service

        If a staff member is on University conditions of service, he/she must have been confirmed in his/her appointment before applying for promotion.

        Should a staff member on probation be clearly performing very well, a Head of Department may at any point make a case for early confirmation of appointment. This must have the support of the Dean and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for Human Resources. The proposal must be based on achievements in teaching and research at UCT after the appointment of the person concerned.

      2. 3.1.2 Joint staff on Western Cape Government (WCG) or National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) conditions of service

        If a person is on the conditions of service of a health authority, on a joint establishment, he/she must

        • be on the permanent staff if a South African citizen
        • be held against a permanent post if not a South African citizen, in order to be eligible for ad hominem promotion.
    2. 3.2 SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) level of performance

      The University needs good, fully competent academics to achieve its goal of being a World Class African University. The majority of staff are likely to fall into this category.

    3. 3.3 Above SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) and merit awards

      There are various levels of high achievement, and it is the responsibility of the Faculty Promotions and Remuneration Committee to decide on these based on the following principles:

      • Due regard to the portfolio of the staff member.
      • The HOD's assessment and other referee reports (where called for).
      • High achievement relative to others in the rank.
      • High achievement relative to what is considered good, competent achievement for the rank.
      • Recognition for special efforts that do not contribute to promotion may be taken into account here.
      • The candidate has made substantial progress towards being promoted to a more senior rank. In this case the candidate is judged to have demonstrated some, but not enough, of the qualities and achievements necessary for promotion to a higher rank. In this case a candidate will be told what he/she needs to strengthen his/her case for promotion.
    4. 3.4 Below SASP (Standard Academic Salary Package) level of performance

      "Under-performance" is performance which is below the desired standard for the staff member's rank. Under-performance, which if not corrected, once identified, may become unsatisfactory performance in due course. The Procedure for Addressing Under- and Unsatisfactory Performance must be followed.

  4. COE implications for under- and unsatisfactory performance
    1. 4.1 Under- performance

      The Dean has the discretion to withhold a COE increase or give a smaller than standard increase.

    2. 4.2 Unsatisfactory performance

      No increases in COE will be given and the employment contract may be terminated in due course should performance not improve.

  5. Review of ad hominem promotions process
    1. 5.1 Every applicant for ad hominem promotion has a right to feedback. Each faculty may decide how to give this feedback.
    2. 5.2 The ad hominem decision is final. However, an applicant may request a review of the process if she/he believes that the decision was procedurally unfair or unreasonable.
    3. 5.3 Process for the review:
      1. 5.3.1 The applicant must submit a letter requesting a review, stating the grounds on which the review is requested, ("the application" for review) to the DVC responsible for academic matters via the Faculty Dean within 14 days of notification of the ad hominem promotion outcome. The applicant may not submit any additional materials in support of his/her application for review which were not originally submitted to the committee. If granted, the review must proceed strictly on the basis of the original documentation.
      2. 5.3.2 A DVC not involved in the prior faculty ad hominem process, designated by the Vice-Chancellor must then review the application.
      3. 5.3.3 This DVC must decide whether the application has merit to be reviewed on the grounds of process, or reasonableness of outcome.
      4. 5.3.4 If this DVC decides that the application has merit to be reviewed he/she must:
        1. convene and chair a meeting of a committee of the Deans (excluding the Deans that attended the final meeting of the specific faculty) which must meet to review the application within a reasonable timeframe, and
        2. keep the staff member informed of the status of the appeal.
      5. 5.3.5 The following documentation must be circulated to all Deans:
        1. application from the applicant for a review;
        2. The Faculty Dean's written comments on the application. (The Faculty Dean of the applicant is shown the application and is asked to comment in terms of procedural fairness or the reasonableness of the decision based on faculty criteria.);
        3. The full portfolio of the applicant (HR174 & 175) including referees' reports and the applicant's CV, as submitted with the initial application: the Deans may not consider any additions to the original portfolio at this stage;
        4. The Faculty-specific promotion criteria ; and
        5. The Faculty Committee's decision and the Faculty Committee's reasons for its decision i.e. the decision that is the subject of the review application, and the Faculty Committee's reasons for reaching that decision.
      6. 5.3.6 Two questions are asked during the Deans' review meeting:
        1. Was the process procedurally fair?
        2. If the process was procedurally fair, was the outcome reasonably evaluated against faculty criteria? (Indicators here could also be the voting outcomes; or HOD input.)
      7. 5.3.7 Outcomes of the review meeting: the Deans review meeting must result in one of the following
        1. The decision of the Faculty's Remuneration and Promotions Committee is confirmed.
        2. The Committee of Deans upholds the application for review, and remits the matter to the relevant Faculty Remuneration and Promotions Committee for reconsideration, with its written reasons.
        3. In exceptional circumstances, where this Committee of Deans is minded to substitute its own decision for that of the Faculty RPC because it believes that the Faculty RPC would not be able to reach a fair or reasonable decision were the matter to be remitted to it for reconsideration, this Committee of Deans must inform the Chair of the RPC and the DVC who participated in the original decision of the Faculty RPC of this and invite them to make submissions to it before coming to a decision.
        4. The Committee of Deans is permitted to solicit external professional input if they deem it necessary.

Approved by SEC (Senate Executive Committee) June 2011

Amendments to section 5 approved by SEC 4 August 2014

Page last updated: 22 August 2014