Middlebury is committed to developing a model that centers holistic and honest feedback up, down and across our teams and prioritizes personal and professional growth on an ongoing basis. Supervisors and staff are encouraged to have early and frequent feedback conversations. The goal of the conversations should be to reflect on successes, challenges, and opportunities moving forward.

Quarterly Growth Conversations Pilot

We are currently rolling this out as a pilot during the first half of 2023 and working to socialize and share this approach through a grassroots, supervisor informed movement. As such, the details and approach is not final and we expect to adjust and solidify details based on community feedback (name, cadence, specifics may change). Right now, this is not required, but we welcome leaders and individual employees to join our pilot and try this approach. We will keep the community updated as we move forward!

diagram. leading your team at center. quarterly growth conversations highlighted. feedback loops about your leadership; performance improvement;career development; rewards & recognition; job descriptions

Quarterly Growth Conversations

Quarterly growth conversations allow you to address questions, concerns, or challenges your employee may be facing. They are also a great way to facilitate professional development conversations and create/review action plans. 

Feedback discussions take place once a quarter and are documented in Oracle HCM. An assessment of an individuals strengths, opportunities, and outline of goals should be discussed at every quarterly meeting.

The goal of the conversation is to celebrate successes, acknowledge areas for improvement, AND be forward looking to maintain momentum towards achieving individual and institutional goals.

car on path to quarterly goals. Text of observations, strengths, opportunities, goals

Frequently Asked Questions


Overall performance ratings will no longer be given during performance feedback conversations. The focus of these conversations is to reflect on past performance while also maintaining a focus on future goals and opportunities to build upon existing strengths.


A self-evaluation is not required. However, leaders can choose to request that staff members reflect upon their performance over the past quarter before or during the meeting. 


You get to choose! The quarterly check-in can be designed in a way that works best for you and your staff. You may wish to ask your staff to come prepared to the meeting, or make it more of a freestyle conversation.


Yes. new employees are required to receive a 90-day evaluation. Once the evaluation is complete, the check-in conversations can be scheduled in future quarters at a timeline that works for the staff member and the supervisor.


If you’re already meeting with your staff on a regular basis, that’s great! You can choose to shift one of your normally scheduled meetings to focus on the quarterly check-in, or choose to schedule the quarterly check-in as a separate meeting. This program allows you to create a schedule that works for your team and is not prescriptive beyond requiring a check-in at least once per quarter.


No. You can choose what schedule works best for you and your staff. The requirement is to meet with each of your direct reports at least once per quarter.


The goal is that leaders meet with each staff member at least 4 times per year. We recognize that not all individual’s work year-round. Leaders have the flexibility to meet with their employees in a cadence that works best for that individual. This may mean scheduling meetings at the beginning or end of a quarter. 


We encourage an open dialogue between staff members and their immediate supervisor. Please discuss any concerns that you have with the performance documentation directly with your supervisor.


The opportunities for improvement and goals sections of the check-in are places where a leader can note areas where an individual needs improvement. If you’re not seeing progress towards goals or seeing patterns of concerning behavior then it may be time to move into a separate process for performance improvement plans and/or corrective action. Please contact your HR Business Partner for support.


Institutional goals are captured in Envisioning Middlebury. Likewise every department has their own strategic plans and goals that could be used to create goals for individuals that ladder up to the department/institutional goals. Leaders and staff can work together to set goals that ultimately align to broader departmental initiatives and thus support institutional priorities.


There is no direct link between a performance feedback conversation and pay. Our new compensation structure and process is the mechanism for pay increases based on market and overall career progression.


The quarterly growth conversations are an opportunity to discuss how to develop a deeper level of ownership and impact in one’s current role and/or how to progress to another role within Middlebury. The skill matrix is intended to assess an individual’s career progression. Increasing one’s level of ownership and impact could lead to a shift in skill matrix placement. It is expected that an individual would stay within the same skill matrix level for a period of time given that the skill matrix is an assessment of a career which typically spans a long period of time.


Quarterly growth conversations will be captured in Oracle. The form and process in Oracle is not yet available. We are working to have this developed and will share an update as soon as possible. Until then, there is no required documentation, but we encourage supervisors to keep notes to refer back to (and you’ll be able to enter those in Oracle once it is live).


The form and process in Oracle is not yet available. We are working to have this developed and will share an update as soon as possible. Until then, there is no required documentation, but we encourage supervisors to keep notes to refer back to (and you’ll be able to enter those in Oracle once it is live).

Both the supervisor and the employee will be able to see the documented growth conversations in Oracle.

Since the growth conversations are part of an employee’s record, Human Resources (HR) has access to these documents as well though HR will not actively review these documents as they are submitted.

Deeper Dive Topics

Considerations for Meeting Structure

  • Are there topics that should be reviewed at every meeting?
  • Does your employee prefer a structured meeting with outlined topics/agenda items or do they prefer a more casual meeting format?
  • Are you leaving room for professional development conversations?
  • How will you provide space to connect on a more personal or deeper professional level so that your employees feel seen and validated?
  • Depending on your style, it may be helpful to prepare discussion points or a list of things you would like to explore during the conversation.
  • After the meeting, it may be helpful to provide a short recap of agreed upon action items. Be sure to also follow up on any items that you committed to doing.

Sample Questions to Ask During Growth Conversations

  • What is going well at work right now?
  • What is something that has brought you joy or excitement?
  • What’s a talent or skill that you don’t use at work that could benefit the team?
  • Has anything changed over the last quarter - for the better? Or worse?
    • How can I help you correct/address it?
  • Do you feel you have everything you need to be successful (information, knowledge, support, resources)? If not, what needs to change?
  • What obstacles or challenges are you facing at work?
    • What strategies have you tried to overcome those challenges?
    • How can I support you in overcoming those challenges?
  • How does your work here align with your career goals?
  • How does your work tie to the institution’s strategic goals and priorities?
    • Who are you helping and why does it matter?
  • Do you feel supported by leadership?
  • What is something you wished I had ask that I didn’t?

Additional Conversation Prompts

Questions to ask about the individual’s work:

  • What accomplishments this quarter are you most proud of?
  • What has been a win?
  • What is something that you have learned?
  • What is something that you would want to re-do if you could?
  • What can you leverage more to maintain productivity or success?
  • What are your looking forward to in the next quarter?
  • Which goals did you meet?
  • Which goals fell short?
  • What motivates you to get your job done?
  • What are your ideal working conditions to be the most productive?
  • What personal strengths help you do your job effectively?
  • What skills do you have that you believe we could use more effectively?
  • What kind of work comes easiest to you?
  • What kind of work is challenging for you?
  • How do you prefer to receive feedback and/or recognition for your work?
  • What 2-3 things will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
  • What professional growth opportunities would you like to explore in the next quarter?
  • What departmental or institutional projects are you interested in and would like to be part of?

Questions to ask about your own leadership:

  • What can I do to make your job more enjoyable?
  • What can I do to help you better meet your goals?
  • What (if any) concerns do you have when it comes to giving ME feedback? How can I alleviate those concerns?
  • What are 2-3 things I could do differently to better lead you?
  • What do I do that is most/least helpful for you when it comes to completing your work?
  • What can we do to improve our relationship?

Goal Setting

Goals should be clear, specific, measurable, and have a set target date of completion.

Objectives of goal setting:

  • Create a defined pathway for someone to expand their level of ownership and impact in their current role
  • Develop a pathway for career progression
  • Develop clear outline to improve performance 

See Professional Development Strategies and Resources below.

Sample Goals

  • I will develop my relationship with ___ by connecting (call, email, text) this person at least twice a week.
  • I will lead my team to improve our turnaround time on ____. We will improve by ___% within 3 months.
  • I will improve communication with my co-workers by implementing a team messaging solution within 2-weeks. 
  • I will learn how to ___  by ___ so that I am able to serve as a back-up for ____ when they are out of the office.
  • I will complete a training course on ___ by the end of the quarter.

Professional Development Strategies for Developing your Employees

Professional development provides individuals with the opportunity to expand their skills, stay up to date with rules/regulations/policies/laws relevant to their profession or position, perform at a higher level, and opens the door to future career opportunities. Employees who feel like their long-term goals are supported are more likely to be highly engaged and high performers.

 In general, make sure you are engaging in the following strategies with your employees:

  • Collaboration and Goal Setting: Identifying what an individual wants to accomplish, establishing a plan, and creating measures of success (both qualitative and quantitative).
    • The individual may wish to explore resources within Middlebury to support their goals (job shadowing, special project work, on the job training, etc.) or resources outside of Middlebury (workshops, courses, podcasts, webinars, etc.).
  • Coaching: Asking questions to help an individual think through and come up with solutions or courses of action on their own.  Offering suggestions or advice. Reflecting on progress.
  • Mentoring: Providing information, teaching, imparting knowledge (including knowledge of the unspoken “this is how we work” norms or rules of the culture). Providing suggestions for courses of action or areas of improvement.

Need help implementing these strategies or navigating conversations with your employees? Contact your HR Business Partner!

Career Progression: Increasing Ownership and Impact

The quarterly check in conversation is an opportunity to discuss an individual’s strengths, opportunities (both opportunities for improvement and opportunities to engage in new/different work within their role) and set goals for the upcoming quarter. Everything ties together, however there is no direct formula from performance to compensation. In our Compensation Program, raises are based upon market data and overall career progression over time.​

  • An individual may stay within their skill matrix level for a period of time, which is normal in any career.​ The skill matrix is not a 4-year progression where one would move up in the skill matrix every year.​

  • Increased measurable strengths and consistently achieving goals may ultimately lead to a higher level of ownership and impact in their position.​

  • Examples of increasing ownership & impact:

    • Meeting quarterly goals, improving performance, and engaging in professional development are ways in which one can increase their level of ownership & impact.

    • If an individual once required a lot of one-on-one support and guidance and is now performing at a level that requires less support than previously years, their level of ownership has increased.​

    •  If the individual is also delivering consistent results and exhibiting emerging expertise, their level of impact may have also increased. ​


Growth Conversation Resources

Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well. Written by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

Follow this link to review 4 Steps to Approaching Critical Conversations: A Roadmap for Higher Education Leaders

Follow this link to review How to Hold Effective Talent Conversations

    Professional Development Resources

    LinkedIn Learning

    • LinkedIn Learning is a fabulous video-based online instruction resource that is available to all academic year faculty, staff, and students.  You can learn new skills to help at school, work or home by watching short, 2 to 3-minute movies or by working through an entire course. This isn’t only about technology, either.  Yes, there are courses on just about every piece of software you can think of, but there are also “soft skill” topics such as resume writing, interviewing techniques, customer service, and leadership.  If you want to develop your creative side, there are courses for that as well, including photography, music, and animation. Follow this link to learn more about LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning at Middlebury

    Staff Development Fund

    • The fund supports a variety of work-related development activities that may include: participation in short courses, workshops, and training programs, as well as opportunities for staff members to prepare training programs and workshops for other employees on campus. In some cases Middlebury will consider supporting self-improvement projects designed to benefit the individual or to facilitate career advancement only if there is significant promise of benefit to Middlebury as well. Staff professional development is budgeted at the department level, therefore this fund is designed to help offset rather than replace costs to departmental budgets. Follow this link to learn more about the Staff Development Fund: Staff Development Fund

    Continuing Education Fund

    • Through this fund, Middlebury provides support to eligible staff who wish to enroll in credit-bearing courses from an accredited program or institution. Follow this link to learn more about the Continuing Education Fund: Continuing Education Fund

    Oracle Learn (OLC)

    • Oracle Learn is the online learning system provided within Oracle. Oracle Learn replaces the employee Safe Colleges compliance courses. Employees will complete required training within the Oracle system. We hope to build and expand the learning catalog to provide more self-paced learning opportunities to employees.
    • Oracle Learn Tips:
      • If an employee is experiencing an issue where the progress of their course is not saving in Oracle, have them clear their browser cache or switch browsers. The recommended browser for Oracle is Firefox.
      • Employees may search for and enroll in courses by browsing the course catalog. More courses will become available over the next few weeks. 
      • You may check on your direct reports course progress in “My Team Learning.”
      • You may assign courses from the catalog to your team in “My Team Learning.”
    • Oracle OLC (Learn module) Resources: