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Performance Dialogue FAQs


What is McGill’s position on Performance Dialogue?

All employees in the “M” category (permanent and contractual) are expected to engage in at least one Performance Dialogue session with their supervisor each year. All Executives of the University actively support this best practice. Performance Dialogue is considered to be the responsibility of each and every administrator at McGill University.

Why is Performance Dialogue important?

McGill aims to remain a leader on the international front by attracting, developing and retaining the best talent. This important goal will be supported by Performance Dialogue as it links to unit and institutional objectives, employee development and succession planning, and will ultimately support the new competency model that will be rolled out in the next academic year.

When is the reference period?

Some units at McGill establish objectives for the period of June 1 till May 31, while others have redefined the reference period consistently as September 1 till August 31 for planning purposes over the Summer months.  Either is acceptable provided that the reference period is clear to all parties and is adapted to the institutional needs at hand.

Exceptionally, merit is being allotted to M’s based on performance periods of 18 months each:    June 1, 2008 till November 30, 2009, and December 1, 2009 till May 31, 2011.    HR Advisors are equipped with knowledge and tools to help supervisors adapt to the new merit exercise and to these unique circumstances.

Is Performance Dialogue about merit?

Performance Dialogue helps establish some of the objective criteria needed to effectively determine merit awards. It also provides a unique opportunity to review the achievements and work performance of staff for the past reference period and to set mutually agreed upon objectives. It is an occasion to align employee developmental goals with emerging unit needs and directions. Performance Dialogue encourages meaningful dialogue, planning and opportunities for recognition as well as motivational and corrective feedback.

What is in it for you, as a supervisor?

This best practice will support you in your efforts to attract, retain, develop and reward the best talent. When performed effectively, it increases your employee’s motivation and sense of contribution in a climate where effectiveness and work satisfaction are built on clear expectations. As we strive to demonstrate greater accountability and measurability across the University, Performance Dialogue is a critical step in linking individual objectives and performance to unit and institutional objectives. As well the PD process should link to training and development and succession plans.

What is in it for you as a staff member?

Through the Performance Dialogue process, you participate in developing clear work-related objectives each year that contribute to your unit’s objectives and make a measurable difference. Through the course of the year, you can benefit from concrete feedback from your supervisor to ensure that you are on track and the supervisor is aware of any important challenges encountered in the pursuit of your objectives. In collaboration with your supervisor, you can identify and address your individual developmental needs against the backdrop of evolving unit priorities.

Who is responsible for Performance Dialogue?

While Human Resources Advisors (central and in the field) are responsible for stewarding the process, Performance Dialogue is clearly a shared responsibility of the employee (M), the immediate supervisor and the senior manager

Is this a once or twice a year event?

Performance Dialogue forms are completed at least once a year, though we strongly encourage a mid-year formal review to reduce surprises, to document progress and to allow for timely positive and corrective feedback. Performance Dialogue is a process, not an event. Ongoing follow-up and discussion of expectations, achievements and challenges throughout the year leads to the best results.

What are some of the common pitfalls to avoid?

  • Evaluating someone without ensuring clearly understood expectations at the outset.
  • Avoiding meaningful dialogue throughout the year and saving “surprises” to the end when both parties can experience frustration and blame.
  • Expressing polarized feedback – whether positive or negative – without clear, concrete examples.
  • Conducting a “Performance Dialogue” session without substantive input from the employee regarding understanding, needs, observations and suggestions.