March 28, 2008

elevate: Answering the Tough Questions

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Medical Center leadership answers the tough questions about what the elevate program is and what it means for the people who work at VUMC.

Question: In our pay for performance structure, how can someone who gets a 3.5 cumulative job performance score get the same salary adjustment as a person who gets a 4.4 score?

Answer: VUMC's job evaluation program is designed to distinguish between good performance and exceptional performance.

For annual salary adjustment purposes, a staff member's cumulative job performance score is rounded to a simple 3, 4 or 5. (A score below 3 rules out salary adjustment.)

We're looking for approximately 60 percent of staff members to wind up with a 3, 20 percent to wind up with a 4, and 15 percent to wind up with a 5.

Yes, 3.5 and 4.4 represent a big difference, and yes, under our system both scores earn the same salary adjustment. The question becomes: Should we assign one pay adjustment for a score of 3.0, another for a score of 3.1, another for a 3.2, and so on up to 5?

Compared with a system of 10 or 20 different pay adjustment levels, our current system of three levels is more motivational for the employee, and thus more beneficial to our organization. The staff member scoring between 4.0 and 4.4 should be motivated to improve his performance to win the biggest of three possible salary adjustments. If the pay adjustment were more gradual, the motivation would be less. (By the same token, the staff member who scores a 3.5 knows he risks earning a smaller salary adjustment if his performance slips.)

As job performance continues to improve across VUMC under elevate, managers will need to raise the bar so that we continue to recognize and reward exceptional performance.

— Susan Mezger, director, Human Resources