Magazine article Workforce Management

Performance Pay a Challenge in Academia

Magazine article Workforce Management

Performance Pay a Challenge in Academia

Article excerpt

ESTABLISHING METRICS

"[Institutions] need to define what they mean hy performance, and they need to align performance expectations with the institution's vision or mission. "

-David Insler, Sibson Consulting

Pay-for-performance programs in academia appear to be gaining ground as cash-strapped state legislatures demand accountability for every dollar.

Yet the success or failure of such programs depends on the thought and care put into them. "[Institutions] need to define what they mean by performance, and they need to align performance expectations with the institution's vision or mission," says David Insler, senior vice president and regional leader for Sibson Consulting. Sibson, a division of Segal Co., has worked with more than 100 four-year institutions to help establish performance and pay programs.

Program success also depends on who's doing the thinking.

Insler adds that most pay-for-performance programs in higher education apply mainly to administration, not faculty.

"The level of participation is critical in addressing the challenges," he says. "If the chancellor or president of the university and the chief financial officer get together in a room and decide how things are going to work, it doesn't work. You must involve department heads and midlevel managers for it to work."

In some cases, a top-down process, complete with review forms, has already been put in place before Sibson or another consulting firm is called in, and, just as Insler observed, it doesn't work. "More times than not, it's about fixing the forms," Insler says.

While the model is gaining acceptance among four-year institutions, applying pay for performance has proved to be a bit dicey in K- 12 classrooms. When teachers' paychecks were tied to students' performance on standardized tests, some educators cheated to improve children's test scores and their own salaries. …

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