Staff Performance Management FAQ

A performance review is an annual evaluation, required by the state for covered staff members, that is completed using the Performance Planning and Evaluation form. Conducting performance reviews is not only a requirement of the state of South Carolina, it is the right thing for supervisors to do for their employees. As a supervisor, spending time with each employee to document and praise their accomplishments, challenge their performance level to surpass expectations, and address any performance gaps in a constructive manner is the foundation of a successful performance management program and a critical supervisor responsibility.

The planning stage of performance management should occur within 4 to 6 weeks after the close of the previous performance cycle. This is a perfect opportunity for supervisors to set the performance landscape, direction and high expectations for each staff member. Developing specific, stretch goals for each employee will allow Clemson to achieve our mission and strategic priorities. Our biggest investment is our people. We should use the performance management process to develop them and foster high performance for the benefit of the employee and the university.

The state requires a recorded performance rating/review every 12 months.  Any employee who surpasses this 12-month period (the selected established review date) without receiving a review and rating will receive a “concedes to successful” rating.  The “concedes to successful” rating is reported and is reflected poorly on the supervisor.  Providing an employee with a timely annual evaluation affords supervisors with a great opportunity to express appreciation or concern for the work being performed. Conversely, not providing an evaluation will result in your employee being marked as “concedes to successful”, which may not be representative of the work they performed which may make it more challenging for future disciplinary action.

Importantly, in the future, the performance rating will be one of the factors considered when evaluating an employee’s compensation.  If the employee “concedes”, they may not be eligible for a higher amount of pay.  Additionally, if the rating is not received on time, this may impact the potential performance based increase and/or the communication of a potential performance based increase.

If you want to get ahead, reviews may be started as early as 90 days prior to the end of the performance period i.e. the last day to submit performance reviews.

Emails will be sent from your HR Service Center representatives to remind supervisors that a review is upcoming.  Performance evaluations are due on the last day of the performance period. Each budget center (with a few exceptions) has selected a performance review period that best meets their business needs. To view a table that lists the performance periods for each budget center, access Performance Periods by Budget Center.  Please note: Performance evaluations may be completed and submitted up to 90 days prior to the last day of the performance period.  Please talk to your HR representative.

It is imperative that each covered staff member receive a review and rating indicative of their performance. Typically, we see performance fall around a normal distribution with about 60% of performance equivalent to a successful level, 20% above that and 20% below successful. If you would like to truly reward your highest performers, you should set specific, stretch goals, and you should differentiate performance to draw attention to the highest level of performance.

You can review the definitions for each rating.

Additional guidance is available on our Performance Management webpage.  

It is imperative that each covered staff member receive a review and rating indicative of their performance. Deadlines for performance ratings are associated with the performance review period that has been selected by your area. If a review and rating are not submitted by the last day of the performance period (Feb 28/29, June 30, or August 31), the employee will review a “concedes to successful” rating.

Allowing an employee to “concede to successful” reflects poorly on a supervisor.  When employees automatically “concede to successful”, this gives employees the impression that their supervisors don’t have time for them and sends the message that their performance is not important.  In addition, supervisors miss the opportunity to encourage and/or correct performance and behaviors.

Unfortunately, if an employee has a lower level of performance and he or she “concedes to successful”, it makes it more difficult to build a case for performance concerns, which hopefully, can be understood and improved upon by the employee. Inconsistent reviews or a failure to review employees puts the university at risk if in the future we decide to separate the employment of that individual.

Back in March 2018, some budget centers selected new/different performance periods of either (1) March 1 – February 28, (2) July 1 – June 30 or (3) September 1 – August 31. To comply with State law of reviewing employees every 12 months, those budget centers that changed their dates are required to complete a “soft” review by January 31, 2019. Emails with guidance and instructions for completing the “soft” review process were provided to impacted supervisors in November 2018.  If you are a supervisor whose budget center changed their review date, and you did not receive an email, please contact your HR service representative. 

OHR has been working with the budget office and Provost Office to develop a merit or performance-based pay plan university-wide.  This plan will directly correlate an employee’s compensation with proven performance as well as other factors such as time in position, experience, skills, certifications/degrees, and span of control. Now more than ever, it is critical for supervisors to provide employees with, fair and timely reviews that are truly indicative of the employee’s performance. The performance rating (as well as time in position, current market level, etc.) will guide the amount of increase suggested for the employee. Any pay decisions are at the discretion of the dean or VP of the budget center and dependent on budgetary constraints.

In order to support the upcoming performance based compensation strategy, OHR is developing a policy that will require reviews for staff in TLP or TGP positions with an assignment of greater than one year. This policy will allow the supervisor to establish clear, documented expectations and review and rate these temporary employees based on the grant or project they are contributing towards. Because these temporary employees will receive a rating, the supervisor can better determine who and how much of a performance based increase they should receive. In the meantime, we encourage you to begin the planning process. The policy and a Temporary Staff Performance Management Form will be available in early 2019.

Starting January 2019, OHR will offer “just-in-time” training sessions to assist supervisors in writing and delivering a performance review. This concept of “just-in-time” training will precede each stage of the performance management process for each performance period.

OHR’s performance management webpage provides process information, resources, and guidance in one easy place.  Additionally, customized training, performance management information sessions and tailored division-level performance planning workshops can be delivered upon request.

The Staff Performance Management Policy and associated documents may be found online. In support of this policy, the Office of Human Resources maintains Staff Performance Management Guidance, in which detailed information on how to create effective performance management expectations and documentation is available.  

Please visit the HR Staff Performance Management page for more information including forms and checklists. Note: Faculty are not covered under this policy. 


For non-probationary and non-trial status employees, there are three established performance periods. These periods are either (1) March 1 – February 28, (2) July 1 – June 30 or (3) September 1 – August 31. Performance management evaluation forms are due on the last day of each performance period. Performance periods are based on budget center/department and may be found online at Performance Management Period by Budget Center page. Your supervisor or HR partner can confirm your performance period. 

Probationary employees are due a review one year from their date of hire. Trial status employees are due a review within six months of their employment status change. 


A probationary period is the twelve-month period during which an employee is evaluated at initial hire into the State system to determine satisfactory performance and attainment as a covered employee. 

A probationary period of twelve (12) months will be regarded as an integral part of the University's employment process. This probationary period shall be utilized by the supervisor for closely observing the employee's abilities and performance of the duties and responsibilities assigned to the position. 

For more information, please visit the Staff Performance Management Policy


A trial period is the six-month period resulting from a promotion, transfer, reassignment, reclassification or demotion to any position in which the employee does not hold permanent status for the purpose of obtaining permanent status in the classification.   Personnel actions resulting in the employee moving to a trial status may include:  promotion, demotion, reassignment, transfer and reclassification. 

For more information, please visit the Staff Performance Management Policy.


Copies of the evaluation stages of performance management documents are maintained in an employee’s official personnel file. Planning stages are maintained in the department by the supervisor. Should you need to access a copy of your own performance review documents, please contact to schedule an appointment. 

Clemson University uses a six-level scale (see list below) to rate job functions, competencies objectives, and overall performance:  

  1. Top Performance 
  2. Exceptional Performance 
  3. Successful Performance 
  4. Developing Performance 
  5. Improvement Needed 
  6. Unsuccessful Performance 

For more information, please review the Staff Performance Management Policy,  

page 6 or contact Staff and Faculty Relations. 


The planning stage is the initial stage of the performance management process and encompasses the development of a plan for 1) job functions, 2) objectives for the review period, and 3) competencies. Raters are required to conduct a planning stage with each staff member at the beginning of each review period, during which the rater and the staff member discuss the job functions (including job duties and success criteria), goals, and competencies. The reviewer and the rater should discuss the requirements for the coming year prior to the planning stage to establish the goals for the department/unit.  

It is recommended that planning stages be completed and signed within 4-6 weeks of the performance review being conducted for the prior year. 


An employee cannot be rated as overall “unsuccessful” on their performance review unless a Warning Notice of Substandard Performance has been completed. An employee can receive a rating of “unsuccessful” on an individual job duty, however, the overall rating cannot be “unsuccessful” without a Warning Notice. Please contact Staff and Faculty Relations for more information. 

Yes, supervisors can view the completed performance reviews for their direct reports. Please contact to set up an appointment to view those documents. 

Please familiarize yourself with Staff Performance Management Policy and resources available on the HR Staff Performance Management page. Your supervisor should be meeting with you within your first two months of employment to create a planning stage document. If you do not receive this document, please talk to your supervisor. 

Yes, your supervisor should be reviewing your position description each year when it is time to complete your planning stage.

EPMS is the previous name of our Staff Performance Management process. More information on the Staff Performance Management Policy is available online. 

Sometimes a change in supervisor or another event may cause a planning stage to go undone. A performance review may still be conducted. However, every effort should be made by the supervisor and employee to ensure that a new planning stage is drafted following the review. 


In-person training is conducted throughout the year on this topic. Please visit the Staff Performance Management page more information on upcoming classes as well as resources and tools.