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For assistance with implementing your agency’s EPAS processes and guidance on goals, expectations, and tough conversations, contact your Human Resources Manager.

Performance appraisals help people take charge of their own development, release their potential and achieve results which they value. By clearly defining expectations and measurements, both supervisors and employees know what is expected and how they will be held accountable for results.

The Employee Performance Appraisal System (EPAS) helps employees understand what their goals and expectations are for the year, and how to develop their skills for career growth.

In alignment with King County’s practice of inclusiveness, a key principle of an effective performance appraisal is two-way communication. This means talking with employees about the support and opportunity they need to use their varied skills and abilities within the workplace, and removing barriers that limit the ability of people to fulfill their potential.

Tools and Resources

Per King County’s Executive Order PER 18-10-1 all non-represented managers and supervisors, as well as all employees, as negotiated, should use EPAS.

Regardless of whether employees are covered under the Performance Appraisal and Merit Pay System, all employees should be given clear expectations and standards for performance, receive regular, ongoing feedback on their performance, and discuss progression towards achievement of a development plan.

Conducting appraisals through supervisor/employee collaboration

The performance appraisal and merit pay system promotes communication about work performance between supervisors and career service employees, and the promotion of ongoing employee development. Formally evaluating an employee’s performance is only one piece of an active performance management process. Formal evaluation should reflect discussions supervisors and employees have had during the entire performance cycle.

Employee performance management starts with hiring well then setting clear expectations about what and how performance is expected for the employee to succeed. Managers should continually coach, mentor and measure the employee's performance results through feedback, development, and when necessary, appropriate corrective action.

  • Discuss expectations and goals for the new performance cycle.
  • Explain how measures and criteria defined in the regular body of work status, goals and expectations will be used in evaluating performance at the end of the performance cycle.
  • Explain how the overall score is determined.
  • Give the employee a copy of the evaluation form, the Employee Performance Log (referenced below) and relevant department, division and team work plans.
  • Coach the employee to identify developmental goals.
  • Establish timelines and follow-up actions.

Setting goals that challenge or stretch the employee has shown to encourage employees to achieve greater results and to enjoy more job satisfaction. Goals form the basis for discussion between the supervisor and employee, along with the employee’s entire work plan, during the performance cycle.

The supervisor's role is to remove barriers to ensure the employee has necessary resources and information for achieving their goals.

If you and your staff have not yet set goals for the current year, start now.

  1. Review organizational goals and objectives.
  2. Review last year’s performance plan to highlight development needs and goals that are continuing into next performance cycle.
  3. Document the employee’s goals and objectives for this performance cycle. Include business work goals and development/training goals.
  4. Review the employee’s current job duties to determine ongoing job responsibilities to be emphasized during current performance cycle.
  5. Make sure all evaluation forms and processes include an area to document agreed upon development goals.
  6. Schedule and conduct quarterly check-in reviews with the employee.

Types of goals

Employees are encouraged to include one goal from each of three following areas for the coming year:

  • Continuous Improvement (LEAN): activities focused on improving processes the employee deals with on a daily basis or the employee’s work.
  • Equity & Social Justice: activities focused on removing barriers and ensuring fairness and opportunity for all.
  • Professional Development: activities focused on enhancing the employee’s knowledge, skills and abilities.

Writing SMART goals

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. It’s a simple tool used to clarify fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for practicable results.

  • Specific: Define the goal as much as possible. Address the five W’s: who is doing the work; what will be accomplished; where will it be done; when will it be done; and why is it being done?
  • Measurable: Track the progress and measure the outcome. Use how much, how many, how often as guides in being able to track progress and measure outcomes.
  • Attainable: Make sure the goal is challenging yet within reach.
  • Relevant: Ensure the goal is worthwhile and aligns with organizational needs.
  • Timely: Create a timeframe for achieving the goal. 

Download the SMART Goals worksheet

Example SMART goal

  • We are going to advertise on our social media account for two weeks, post 300 flyers throughout all county buildings, and send three focused emails to all employees to help publicize the Employee Giving Campaign.

King County is committed to developing a quality workforce through engaging its employees in year-round discussions about performance expectations. EPAS is not about a form but rather the process of communicating expectations, setting goals and providing regular feedback. We recommend using the abbreviated EPAS form (titled EPAS Year-in-Review) and adapt it for your agency. Alternatively, you may continue to use whichever evaluation form you currently use.

Regardless of the form you use, be sure to conduct quarterly progress and review meetings with each of your employees. The key to effective performance management is collaboration with the employee in developing goals and communicating progress.

Supervisor and Employee Performance Logs

Supervisors and employees share information with each other during quarterly review sessions describing progress toward stated goals and noted performance concerns thus eliminating any surprises at the year-end review phase.

Supervisors: use the Supervisor Performance Log to track and document conversations, performance (positive and negative), kudos, training/workshops, and other information regarding your employee. Enter the date, select the type of entry from the pull down menu, provide a brief description and describe the impact this item might have had on you, your workgroup, department, etc.

Employees: use the Employee Performance Log to track and document your performance throughout the year so you can share this information with your supervisor during performance discussions.

Following completion of probation, an employee performance review of all eligible employees is conducted each fall. Depending on the organization, this review may cover performance for the previous six months (March-August) or for the previous year (September-August). If the performance appraisal is for a different period, this is to be indicated on the Performance Appraisal form.

The default performance appraisal review period is September 1 through August 31. HRD sends a schedule to department directors and Human Resource managers in late July or early August.