Human Resources

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the “Introductory Period”?
An employee’s introductory period is the first six months he or she works as a non-temporary university employee. The Introductory period is designed to allow the employee a period of adjustment to his or her new position, to allow the supervisor to observe and evaluate the employee's performance, and to allow both the employee and the university to determine whether or not to continue the relationship.

What are the employee’s and supervisor’s responsibilities during the introductory period?
Supervisors of introductory employees are expected to help the employee adjust to his or her new position, providing the employee with adequate instructions for performing his/her duties, and keeping the employee well informed on whether or not job performance is meeting expectations. Employees are expected to ask questions and request assistance or guidance as needed, and take responsibility for learning the duties of their positions.  Both are deciding if the job is a good “fit” for the employee.

What is the “New Hire Six-Month Evaluation”?
About one month before the end of the introductory period, the supervisor will receive a reminder from Human Resources that the introductory period will be ending soon. The “New Hire Six-Month Evaluation” is a simple, one page form to be completed by the supervisor indicating whether the employee should be retained past the introductory period.  It includes a brief evaluation of the employee’s performance and any areas the employee needs to work on improving.

What happens to an employee’s status after completion of the introductory period?
Satisfactory completion of the introductory period results in the employee’s status becoming “regular” or “ongoing”.  However, as an at-will employer, the university reserves the right to end the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause and with or without notice.  Likewise, the employee has this right as well.

Can the Introductory Period be extended?
Unusual circumstance may necessitate an extension of the introductory period beyond the usual six months. In such cases the supervisor will consult Human Resources before the end of the original introductory period to determine whether an extension is warranted. Such an extension, if approved by Human Resources, will be for a specific period of time not to exceed three months. If probation is to be extended, the supervisor will inform the employee in writing, before the end of the original six-month period, of the reason for the extension and its duration.

Is there a difference between being discharged during the introductory period or after?
Employees may be discharged at any time during or at the end of the introductory period. Discharged introductory employees do not have access to the university's employment-related complaint procedure, but they do have access to the university's procedure for resolving allegations of discrimination.

My employee’s six month introductory period ends about the same time as the annual performance evaluation process begins.  Do I need to complete both forms?
No.  The university’s evaluation process is not intended to cause additional paperwork or a duplication of effort for employees and supervisors.  Where both reviews would occur in the same time frame, the employee and supervisor would proceed with the annual evaluation process.  Check with Human Resources if you have questions about the timing of the evaluation.

If I transfer to another position on campus, do I begin another six month introductory period?
Normally, yes, in the case of a transfer to a different position, either within the same department or to a different department, a new introductory period would begin.  This is because the employee is learning a new position and a similar period of adjustment occurs as it would if the employee were new to USD.  Exceptions to the six month introductory period for transferred employees must be reviewed with Human Resources.

Am I required to do a self-evaluation as part of the performance evaluation process?
Because the university believes that it is very valuable and important for employees to participate in the evaluation process, all employees are requested to complete a self-evaluation prior to meeting with their supervisor.  This gives employees the opportunity to reflect and communicate how they feel they are performing.

My supervisor rated me mostly the middle rating “Meets Expectations”.  Should I be concerned because I didn’t get rated “Exceeds Expectations”?
“Meets Expectations” is a good rating.  Employees who meet expectations are fully performing the requirements of the position and are doing a good job.  We expect most of our employees to fall into this category.

I received a “Needs Improvement” rating.  Am I going to get fired?
A “Needs Improvement” rating means that the employee is not meeting expectations in that area.  It does not necessarily mean the person’s job is at risk; it may just indicate one area where an employee is still learning, or where the employee needs to be re-directed to another approach in order to achieve success.  If several areas need improvement and the overall evaluation rating is “Needs Improvement”, the supervisor and employee should work together to develop a performance improvement plan, including specific action plans and timetables for improving performance.

This is my first year and I don’t have any performance goals to be evaluated on – what should I do with the Goals section of the evaluation?
Even if you and your supervisor did not set formal performance goals when you started in your position, you may have discussed some initial projects or focus for your first several months, such as “learning the duties of the position”.  These can be used as your goals, and your self evaluation can comment on your progress thus far.  And you and your supervisor should definitely set performance goals for the next rating period.

My supervisor plays favorites – what protection do I have against an unfair evaluation?
You will notice that the performance evaluation forms have space for both the immediate supervisor’s signature and their next level manager’s signature.  This two-level management review was established to address concerns of employees who may feel their direct supervisor may rate them unfairly because of favoritism or personality differences. It is the next level manager’s responsibility to ensure that the evaluation is fair and consistent within the department or division.  The next level review/signature should occur before the evaluation is finalized, so that the employee is assured that two management levels have seen and agree with the evaluation.

What do I do if I disagree with my performance evaluation?
Employees are encouraged to bring any documentation supporting their self-ratings to their evaluation meeting, and discuss their concerns openly with their supervisor.  In addition, there is a space on the form encouraging employee comments; additional comments may be attached on a separate sheet.  In the event the employee and supervisor do not agree on a rating, the supervisor’s rating will prevail; however, the employee’s comments will be included for the record.

Can an employee refuse to sign his/her performance evaluation?
The employee’s signature is to acknowledge that they have received an evaluation, not necessarily that they agree with it.  If the employee were to refuse signing the document, then the supervisor should state on the form that the employee refused to sign the document but did receive a copy.  The evaluation will still become part of the employee’s personnel file.

What happens if an employee is out on a leave of absence when performance evaluations, either the six-month or the annual, are due?
If an employee is out on an approved leave of absence during the six-month introductory period, the supervisor should communicate with Human Resources and extend the introductory period accordingly.  If an employee is on LOA during the annual process, the evaluation can either be completed early (if the leave was anticipated) or after the employee’s return to work.  An employee’s leave of absence is not a valid reason for not completing a performance evaluation.