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This online version is for convenience; the official version of this policy is housed in the University Secretariat. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the official version held by the Secretariat, the official version shall prevail.

Senior Executive Performance Assessment System 2 Approved by Compensation Subcommittee March 25, 2008

Approved by Executive and Governance Committee April 8, 2008

Approved by Board of Governors April 24, 2008

“Top and bottom line results begin and end with the senior executive team. How the executive team relates to each other; how the executive team resolves conflicts, issues and disagreements; how the executive team innovates; and how the executive team designs and structures its metrics for performance and outcomes determines its achievement as a team and its ultimate success.” (author unknown)


The purpose of the Senior Executive Performance Appraisal System is to provide an effective, consistent and structured approach to the way executive performance is assessed and developed at Wilfrid Laurier University. The system supports a collaborative team approach to the integrated management of the institution and linkage of individual unit goals to the overall University Strategy/Institutional Goals. Embedded in the system are processes that ensure alignment and the cascading of Senior Executive goals and strategies to the AVP/Director/Dean level to form the basis for their departmental goals. In addition, Leadership Success Factors have been created that define the behaviours and attributes of the senior executive team that are necessary to drive the success of the University.


The Senior Executive Team includes: VP Academic, VP Finance and Administration, VP Advancement, VP/Principal Brantford Campus, Special Advisor to the President, AVP Student Services/Dean of Students, AVP Research.

Key Components

  • Annual Goal Setting Process: Developing a Plan of Achievement
  • Annual Performance Assessment Process: Assessing Achievements vs. Plan
  • Leadership Success Factors: Behaviours that Drive Organizational Success
  • Leadership Development Through 360-Degree Feedback
  • Linking Performance to Compensation

Annual Goal Setting Process: Developing a Plan of Achievement

Critical to the success of the Senior Executive Team and the University as a whole is the process of defining a clear strategy for the University and aligning goals and objectives to that strategy. This process starts with the President and Senior Executive team, and cascades to all levels to ensure departmental goals and strategies support the overall mission and vision of the University.

The annual Goal/Objective Setting Process is outlined below. The result is a “Plan of Achievement” developed by each Senior Executive in consultation with the President and other members of the Senior Executive team. This Plan defines the goals and objectives of the unit for the upcoming year and will form the basis for performance assessment.

Annual Goal/Objective Setting Process

President’s Group Full Day Retreat

  • Reflection on past year: presentation from each Executive on past year’s accomplishments/challenges and forecasting for year ahead.
  • Institutional Goal Setting for upcoming year.


Each Executive meets with their management team to create goals and objectives for upcoming year (linkage with institutional goals).


Executive creates a “Plan of Achievement” (appendix A) based on discussions with management team.

Early June

President’s Group ½ Day Retreat (Lucinda House)

  • Each Executive presents a summary of their Plan of Achievement (unit goals) for upcoming year.
  • Discussion/feedback.


Meets one-one-one with President to finalize Plan of Achievement.


Confirms finalized goals with their management team – serves as basis for management team’s goals and objectives.


Executive and President meet one-on-one for short mid-year progress updates.

October and January

Each Executive prepares an Assessment Report of Achievement vs Plan for the President to assist in the Performance Assessment Process.


Annual Performance Assessment Process: Assessing Achievements vs Plan

Equally critical to the success of the Executive Team and the University is the process of regularly evaluating the performance of executive team members. The evaluation process will be structured and inclusive, and will be based not only on the achievement of operational goals, but on the demonstration of Leadership Success Factors (i.e. behaviours) that are critical to the long term success of the University. The process will also serve to identify executive team member’s strengths and to create development plans and opportunities to ensure continued success.

Annual Performance Assessment Process

Each Executive prepares an Assessment Report of Achievements vs Plan for the President.


President solicits informal feedback from stakeholders using Leadership Success Factor criteria as a guide.

Stakeholders may include:

  • peers
  • direct reports
  • other internal stakeholders
  • board members and external stakeholders


President reviews Report of Achievement and meets with each Executive to discuss and provide feedback, including stakeholder feedback.

Strengths and development areas are identified and development plans are created for upcoming year.

The outcomes of this meeting are summarized in writing for each Executive and copied to official HR file.


President makes formal recommendation to the Compensation Committee of Executive and Governance for appropriate performance-based salary increases for each Executive based on the outcomes of the performance assessment process.


Leadership Success Factors: Behaviours that Drive Organizational Success

When assessing senior executive performance, it is important to consider not only the achievement of annual operational goals, but also the demonstration of leadership behaviours and attributes that support the mission and vision of the University and ensure its long term success.

Below are 5 Leadership Success Factors applicable to all Senior Executive positions at the University. Each Executive member is expected to consistently demonstrate these behaviours and attributes in their work, and to foster them with their respective teams. Success will be measured in these areas through the annual performance assessment process.

Strategic Thinking

  • Aligns strategy and goals of their unit with the broader University goals.
  • Inspires and communicates a clear and relevant vision and strategic plan for unit.
  • Takes calculated risks, challenges the status quo, and seeks opportunities for improvement, change and innovation.
  • Fosters an organizational perspective when analyzing situations and making complex decisions, involving the relevant partners and stakeholders.
  • Keeps abreast of change in the external environment and anticipates/plans for future events, trends, problems and opportunities and their potential impact on the University.

Communication and Collaboration

  • Values and respects other’s perspectives and encourages people and teams to utilize their diverse strengths and talents.
  • Demonstrates a communicative approach, shares information and ensures others are kept informed.
  • Proactively solicits input, ideas and opinions from others and promotes cross-functional collaboration to allow for integrated decision making.
  • Demonstrates the ability to approach individual and team conflicts and facilitate mutually beneficial resolutions.

Leadership and People Development

  • Motivates and inspires others; recognizes the contributions and achievements of team members; shows appreciation and celebrates successes.
  • Guides, mentors and coaches team, setting clear goals/expectations and providing opportunities for challenge and professional development.
  • Leads by example and addresses performance and behaviours that are not consistent with University values and policies.
  • Strategically selects and develops qualified people capable of enabling the unit to achieve success.
  • Models and promotes honesty, integrity, and a harassment free environment that supports and encourages diversity.

Operations Management

  • Designs and structures systems, policies and work processes that meet customer and operational needs and provide exceptional service, quality and efficiency.
  • Demonstrates sound knowledge of fiscal matters that affect the unit and the University and effectively manages budget to ensure resources are allocated in an effective manner to meet strategic objectives.
  • Anticipates potential operational problems/issues and creates contingency plans to mitigate institutional risk and ensure a safe working environment.
  • Appropriately delegates responsibility to others, ensures clear role definition, and establishes appropriate authority for decision making.

Stakeholder Relations

  • Maintains a positive and professional reputation and cultivates effective relationships with both internal/external stakeholders and institutions in support of the University’s goals and public interests.
  • Uses network of relationships to identify opportunities, gather and share information, seek input from others, and benchmark best practices.
  • Listens and responds appropriately in a timely manner to unanticipated situations and stakeholder requests or concerns.
  • Is perceptive and sensitive to the attitudes, beliefs, and opinions of others.

Note: Leadership Success Factors should be defined by and linked to the vision and mission of the organization. Given the Envisioning Laurier exercise is currently in progress, it should be noted that these Leadership Success Factors will be reviewed for alignment and relevancy once the exercise is complete.

Leadership Development Through 360-Degree Feedback

Careful consideration was given to the concept of 360-degree feedback when developing the Senior Executive Performance Appraisal System. After researching best practices and much discussion, it was determined that a formal 360-degree process should not be linked directly to the Senior Executive Performance Assessment and Compensation system to ensure the accuracy and value of the feedback received. Linking a formal 360 process to performance and pay creates undue pressure on raters as they know their feedback can directly impact their boss/peer’s performance assessment and compensation.


The goal of an effective 360-degree feedback process is positive, measurable, long-term leadership growth and development. It is recommended that the Senior Executive Team participate in a 360-degree feedback process with the goal of identifying their leadership strengths as well as development and growth opportunities.

Specifically, we recommend that the Senior Executive Team participate in a one day “Leadership Challenge® Workshop.” This workshop is based on Kouzes and Posners’ Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership®: Model the Way; Inspire a Shared Vision; Challenge the Process; Enable Others to Act; Encourage the Heart. These five practices are very much related to the Leadership Success Factors defined in the Senior Executive Performance Assessment System and would allow the executive team to identify their strengths and growth areas in this regard.

The 360-degree feedback tool, called the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI)® consists of a 15-20 minute on-line questionnaire completed confidentially by the chosen feedback participants (typically 5 or more) and the leader themselves. The questionnaires are completed prior to the workshop and the feedback results are then analyzed and summarized in a personal feedback report for each leader.

The key goals of the workshop are to help participants:

  • understand and interpret their feedback reports.
  • understand why credibility is the foundation of leadership and what it means for their specific roles at WLU.
  • articulate the key values that will guide their actions.
  • commit to action: developing a Personal Leadership Plan.

After participating in the workshop, it is recommended that the Senior Executive Team debrief the experience and its value to determine if it should be conducted on a regular annual or bi-annual basis. If it is decided the 360-degree feedback process will be ongoing, a formal RFP would be conducted with consideration given to other suitable vendors and facilitators.

Linking Performance to Compensation

The goal of the Senior Executive compensation system is to allow the University to attract and retain high quality senior leaders and to recognize and reward their success and contributions through performance based pay.

Regular market surveys are conducted to ensure WLU executive salaries remain competitive with the relevant Canadian University market. Market adjustments may be recommended for specific positions based on the survey data to ensure ongoing competitiveness.

Once the Annual Performance Assessment Process is complete, the President will make recommendations to the Compensation Committee of Executive and Governance for appropriate performance-based compensation increases for each member of the Senior Executive team. The recommendation will be based on the Executive’s level of success in meeting the agreed upon goals and objectives for their unit and stakeholder feedback combined with their demonstration of personal leadership qualities as defined in the Leadership Success Factors

Appendix A: Plan of Achievement Template

Summary of Goals

Goals for upcoming planning year and how each aligns with and supports overall institutional goals.

  • Goal Description Alignment With Institutional Goals
  • How Success Will Be Measured

Personal Leadership Plan

To enhance and develop personal leadership qualities and effectiveness as described in the Leadership Success Factors.

  • Personal Leadership Development
  • Objective
  • Resources Required

Appendix B: Performance Assessment Timeline Summary

Performance Assessment Timeline Summary

Each Executive prepares Assessment Report of Achievements vs. Plan for the President.


Senior Executive

President’s Group Retreat – Reflection and institutional goal setting for upcoming year.



Each Executive meets with their management team to create goals and objectives for upcoming year (linkage with institutional goals)


Senior Executive

President’s Group: Executives presents Plans of Achievement for upcoming year – discussion/feedback.


Senior Executive/President

President solicits informal feedback from stakeholders.



Exec meets with President to discuss performance in previous year and to finalize Plan of Achievement for upcoming year.



Executive communicates finalized goals to their management team – forms basis for management goals/objectives.


Senior Executive

Performance Assessment meeting is summarized and provided to Exec, cc to HR file.



President makes formal recommendation to Compensation Committee for appropriate performance-based salary increases.



Executive and President meet one-on-one for short mid-year progress updates.

October and January

President/Senior Executive


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