University of Wisconsin–Madison

Performance Management Guidance for COVID-19

Performance Management

Updated April 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is requiring flexibility and rapid response to change. The importance of frequent communication between supervisors and employees is at an unprecedented level. Consistency in processes like performance management are crucial to maintaining engagement and normalcy to this otherwise unsettling time.

Should performance management activities continue during COVID-19?

Yes. The primary focus of performance management at UW–Madison is on frequent, informal conversations between supervisors and their employees consisting of coaching, feedback and support to employees about their work, needs, and accomplishments related to the duties and expectations of their position. The HR community needs to continue to encourage interaction between supervisors and employees particularly when expectations regarding how we accomplish our work continue to change.

How do I support my supervisors and encourage frequent informal conversations about performance?

Supervisors may need encouragement and tips to continue to engage with their employees.  Learning and Talent Development has published a webpage with tools and resources for managers supervising remotely.  Additional sessions and support will be announced as they are available on the Virtual Learning page.

Should formal documentation of performance management activities continue?

Yes, to the extent possible. If your unit is on a timeline that has an approaching deadline for midpoint or summary evaluations, you should continue to follow your timeline as much as possible. Since the evaluation process is a look back on the past six or twelve months, most of the work happened during normal circumstances and can be evaluated as such.

Division HR should use best judgement regarding supervisors that may need flexibility for documentation deadlines due to current demands of COVID-19. Exceptions to regular performance management deadlines should be documented and applied consistently. Division HR representatives should consult with OHR Talent Recruitment and Engagement prior to implementing a flexibility that would be outside of campus policy.

Can we continue to use PMDP?

PMDP is fully accessible via NetID login and DUO authentication. Employees who are working remotely can continue to access and use PMDP to record formal performance management documentation. Normal HR administrative functions are also available in the system.

What if I have employees in my unit who are unable to access technology to complete documentation?

Division HR will need to determine on a case-by-case basis how to manage these situations. Process exceptions should be documented. Conversations between the supervisor and employee should still be encouraged and any documentation will need to be acknowledged by both the supervisor and employee through an alternate method.

Can we document in PMDP if an evaluation is skipped or delayed because of COVID-19?

PMDP will not support this type of documentation. Division HR will need to track documentation outside of PMDP for unique or altered processes.

How do we continue performance improvement processes during COVID-19?

If an employee is continuing to work on campus or via telework, the performance improvement process should continue as planned. You may need to consider altering some communication expectations to accommodate a telework environment, such as changing in-person meetings to virtual. If the employee is not able to work, it is possible to temporarily suspend the performance improvement process until the employee returns to work. Division HR should consult with Workforce Relations, to document any exceptions, changes or suspensions to performance improvement processes.

Is the performance management policy still in effect for new hires who start during COVID-19?

Yes. The policy requirements of a 30-day conversation, mid-probation evaluation and summary probation evaluation are still expected. However, division HR may consider on a case-by-case basis any process or timeline exceptions. Upon resuming normal operations, the policy requirement should be fulfilled.

Resources for Performance Management

Supervising Remotely
Learning and Talent Development


Use the UDDS Selection Tool for Campus HR Reps to find your unit’s Talent Recruitment & Engagement contact.