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Performance Reviews


We are pleased to share that UTK Human Resources and the Office of Information Technology have partnered to move our 2020 UTK Annual Performance Review for Staff process to an online format. This will streamline the staff review process and make it easier to manage no matter where we are working!

The online annual performance review tool will be available January 1, 2021 and all UTK staff reviews are to be submitted in the online system beginning with the 2020 review. The form will continue to be in the same format you are familiar with, including the five areas of evaluation and goal setting for 2021. Supervisors will initiate a review, and employees will continue to meet with their supervisors to discuss and then sign their reviews. Comment fields are available for both the supervisor and employee.

To learn more about the new online performance review process, visit K@TE.

Annual performance reviews are a key component of employee development. The performance review is intended to be a fair and balanced assessment of an employee’s performance. UT Policy HR0129, Performance Review, specifies that the objective of the annual review is to provide all regular university staff and their supervisors an opportunity to:

  • Discuss job performance
  • Set goals for professional development
  • Establish objectives for contributing to the department’s mission
  • Discuss expectations and accomplishments

Several resources are available to help prepare supervisors and employees for the performance evaluation process:

To learn more about entry and submission of online performance reviews: sign up in K@TE
Other learning opportunities: Knoxville-area training sessions are scheduled through Learning & Organizational Development. Please contact Learning & Organizational Development at to learn more about training opportunities for leaders and employees.

The Performance Review Summary Form is intended to serve for all staff members. Detailed instructions are available in the online performance review system (OPR). To check review status, initiate, or sign a review, visit the OPR site at

A copy of Performance Review Summary Form is available in the following formats for your convenience. However, all final reviews must be submitted online via the OPR.

Please note that 6-month probationary reviews are still completed via paper form. Submit 6-month probationary reviews to Human Resources, 105 Student Services Building or

NOTE: Beginning in 2021 staff will be evaluated on Diversity and Inclusion as part of the performance review. Managers and employees are encouraged to make diversity and inclusion part of your 2020 discussion as you set goals for 2021 and plan for the year. This new performance evaluation category will replace the category of Adaptability and Flexibility for the 2021 review. 

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity – The extent to which the employee treats others with fairness, dignity and respect, fosters inclusion, values individual and group differences, makes efforts to enhance inclusion, diversity, and equity, and contributes to departmental and organizational unit diversity strategic goals.

UTK is committed to providing an environment that is welcoming to all and hostile to none. As part of this commitment, each employee (beginning in CY 2021) will be evaluated on a new Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity category. One way to approach goals for this new evaluation category is to consider related educational opportunities that may make you stronger in your professional role and/or deepen your knowledge of how to create an inclusive work environment.

Click the link below to view a list of resources, development programs, and community events to help in meeting goals for 2021. This list will be regularly updated so feel free to check back often for new offerings.

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Resources List

Need help with sparking ideas for SMART goals associated with Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity? Remember, SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound


SMART Goal 1: Attend a STRIDE for Staff Workshop by end of Q2 of 2021.

Next Actions:

  • Schedule workshop through K@TE
  • Utilizing workshop, assess current departmental search practices
  • Share findings with supervisor and propose areas for improvement
  • Communicate search process changes and rationale to departmental team
  • Implement changes by end of Q4 of 2021

SMART Goal 2: Complete at least 4 self-paced, eLearning modules focused on inclusion, diversity, and equity by Q4 of 2021.

Next Actions:

  • Identify 4 courses in K@TE, LinkedIn Learning, or other learning platform
  • Schedule times to participate. Once per quarter would be a good timeline
  • After each session, reflect asking Start-Stop-Continue questions. “What should I start doing?” “What should I stop doing?” “What should I continue doing?” Write these down in a notebook or a Word document.
  • Share what you learned with a colleague or a manager
  • Focus on one item in which you can improve

SMART Goal 3: Start a “lunch and learn” book club with colleagues by end Q1

Next Actions:

  • Pick a book that promotes diversity, inclusion, and/or equity
  • Send an invitation to everyone in your office and select a good day to meet (i.e. every other Thursday, every 3rd Friday)
  • Have a different colleague facilitate a chapter each meeting
  • Create challenges for participants to partake in between meetings

In addition, be sure to check out the Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Resources List for other educational opportunities that may support your goals for 2021.

Only one performance review can be submitted per staff member. If an employee is evaluated by more than one supervisor, the supervisors must come to agreement on one overall score.

Staff members receiving unsatisfactory overall performance ratings of 9 or lower are ineligible for across-the-board pay increases. Also, staff on current written warning, final written warning, or suspension without pay or employees who received a disciplinary demotion in the twelve months immediately preceding the effective date of the across-the-board increase are ineligible until the disciplinary action is resolved. Approval by HR and campus/institute leaders is required to provide or withhold an across-the-board pay increase outside of these guidelines.

Performance reviews require the combined signatures of the employee, the employee’s supervisor, and the supervisor’s supervisor to ensure consistency and fairness. Online performance reviews are not accepted until all three required signatures are processed. The provision does not apply to the president, vice presidents and other executive-level supervisors who report directly to the president, chancellors and vice chancellors. Visit the FAQs to learn more about reporting online and signatures.

Staff members who receive unsatisfactory overall performance ratings of 9 or lower are required to participate in a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). A copy of this document should be attached as supporting documentation in OPR by the supervisor. A PIP is also highly recommended for staff who receive overall scores of 10 to 14 which aligns with the “sometimes achieves expectations” category. Contact to inquire about next steps for a PIP.

The Performance Improvement Plan (PDF) (Word) is:

  1. Required for staff members who receive unsatisfactory overall performance of 9 or lower on their performance reviews
  2. Highly recommended for staff receiving 10 to 14
  3. Optional for staff receiving 15 or above

Two optional tools are available to help supervisors make informed decisions about performance. The optional tools explained below can be used at supervisors’ discretion to help in completing the performance review summary form and to address improvement needs.

These optional forms may serve as tools to inform a score or narrative for the final review in OPR. However, they should not be attached in the OPR system. For example, the one-up manager could use an optional form to collect feedback from employees that report to a supervisor being reviewed. This feedback is not placed in the employee file and is not given to the supervisor for direct review as that might impede honest feedback. Therefore, it should not be attached in OPR either.

The Optional Administrator, Supervisor or Peer Review Form (PDF) (Word) allows supervisors to collect feedback about an employee’s performance from those who work with the employee. The form should be completed at the supervisor’s request and returned to the supervisor. These are not to be attached as supporting documentation in OPR.

The Optional Review Form for Employees with Supervisory Responsibilities (PDF) (Word) allows supervisors to evaluate an employee’s ability to lead others and/or manage a department. These are not to be attached as supporting documentation in OPR.

For more information, review Policy HR0129 on Performance Reviews for Regular Staff Employees

Please note that 6-month probationary reviews are still completed via paper form. Submit 6-month probationary reviews to Human Resources, 105 Student Services Building or The OPR will notify supervisors that an annual review is due, even for those in their probationary period. Submit the paper probationary review when it is due and defer the annual review online.

All newly hired regular staff employees, including those converting from temporary or student to regular appointments, shall serve one probationary period of six calendar months in an active pay status with the university beginning with the first day of regular employment. Each regular staff employee shall have his or her work performance evaluated during this period. During this probationary period, employees are subject to discharge without recourse. However, if a non-exempt employee is to be terminated for gross misconduct, the hearing requirement contained in the disciplinary action policy applies.

Employees hired after June 30 each year will only need to have a completed probationary review form on file for his/her annual performance review. However, departments are encouraged to meet with retained employees during their annual review period to familiarize them with the annual performance review process and to establish goals and objectives for the next calendar year.

Currently, the OPR system will prompt supervisors to complete an annual review online even for those hired after June 30. Supervisors may defer the probationary review in OPR for employees hired after June 30 until the following year, noting the hard copy will be submitted (before the six-month period end date). This can be done in the OPR using the manage button. The hard copy probationary review should be submitted to Human Resources when it is due. Visit the FAQs to learn more about how to defer a 6-month review in OPR.

If you have any questions about online annual performance reviews for staff contact Human Resources at 865-974-6642.


Online Performance Review training in K@TE

Probationary Period Evaluation Form

Policy HR0135 on Probationary Review