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The following memo went out this afternoon to employees at the Washington Post. For a long time, Posties have been relatively immune from long-winded memos filled with corporatespeak. Now they get this, complete with a mandate to read every word.

Let this thing do the talking for itself:

Please read this entire e-mail carefully. As Katharine shared during the Expanded Staff Meeting, a foundational element of the new Washington Post Media strategy is to create a nimble, high performance culture. Central to this effort is the new performance management process we launched late last year, using a combination of in-person training, webinars, and the new Performance Manager online tool via WPOnet. We have been transitioning to this new process throughout 2008, one step at a time. We have already launched Phase One: Set Goals and Phase Two: Review Progress. We are about to launch Phase Three: Appraise Performance, which will complete the transition from anniversary-date reviews done throughout the year to focal-date reviews, done at the same time at the end of the calendar year.

This transition will be completed by April 2009. Below are the details
surrounding this change and how it will affect you and your team.

Reasons for Changing from Anniversary-Date Reviews to Focal Reviews
The main reason for this change is the business need to link individual employee performance with company performance. The new process allows us as a company to set individual goals that support broader organizational goals. Likewise, at the end of the year we can appraise individual accomplishments in light of business results. This also allows the company to make compensation decisions after we determine available resources based on company performance.

The second reason for moving to the focal review date is that by completing performance appraisals and making salary increase decisions at the same time, we can enhance the probability that all managers use consistent standards across the organization.

Third, the focal date approach lessens the risk that midyear business shifts will cause uneven impact on employees whose review dates are later in the year vs. employees whose reviews were completed earlier in the year.

Fourth, by completing appraisals at the same time, we can ensure that each employee receives regular performance feedback via an annual performance appraisal. It will also benefit managers —- they will have more time during the year as a result of not having to conduct ongoing reviews and salary increase processes.

Finally, the new approach will reinforce our company’s pay-for-performance philosophy. We will work with managers to ensure that they complete performance appraisals before submitting salary increases and that we have sufficient performance data to support our pay and rewards decisions. Without completing written performance appraisals for their employees, managers will not be able to submit salary increase requests.

Pay-For-Performance Philosophy
Pay-for-performance means that individual and company performance will affect the pay and rewards that employees receive. It also means that the size of the rewards will depend on the level of performance —- high performers will see more pay and rewards, while lower performers may see
none. Neither the year-end appraisal nor the amount of the increase should be a surprise to the employee. The reward should be in-line with the message communicated throughout the year about where the employee stands in terms of performance.

Changes to the Salary Administration Process
To support the transition to the focal review date, our salary administration process will change. First, instead of planning salary increases at the end of the year for the upcoming year, we will allocate
salary increase budgets after all focal date performance appraisals are completed and after we know what our salary increase budget is, based on company performance. For 2008 focal-date reviews, the salary planning process will start in February 2009. You will receive detailed compensation guidelines and instructions on how to plan salary increases using the online salary planning tool (Salary Planner) via WPOnet.

Second, salary increases will be submitted all at once. After senior leaders approve proposed salary increases, you will have about a week to submit the increases using Salary Planner. This will complete our annual process of awarding performance-based salary increases. This process will not affect other types of increases (such as promotions, transfers, or union-required increases) —- those will occur throughout the year as needed.

Transition Plan and Timeline
Human Resources, together with senior leaders, created a detailed plan to make the transition to the focal-date review as smooth as possible. For employees who earn a salary increase, this increase will be prorated for the number of months between their last anniversary review and December 31, 2008 (see section “How Salary Increase Proration Works” below). Salary increases will become effective April 1, 2009.

Transition Phase | Timeline
Managers complete performance appraisals based | Throughout 2008
on employees’ anniversary dates using |
paper-based templates |
Managers complete focal date appraisals (for the | 12/15/2008 –
period between the last anniversary date review | 2/27/2009
and December 31, 2008) using Performance Manager |
Salary planning process (using Salary Planner) | 2/1/2009 – 3/6/2009
starts, and managers allocate salary increase |
budgets |
Senior leaders approve proposed salary increases | 3/6/2009 – 3/20/2009
Managers submit approved salary increases using | 3/23/2009 –
Salary Planner | 3/31/2009
Salary increases are effective April 1, 2009 and | Throughout April
show in employees’ paychecks | 2009
| (depending on
| payroll type)

How Salary Increase Proration Works
To ensure that our high performers are rewarded for the whole 2008 calendar
year and do not loose anything in transition, we will prorate salary
increases based on the number of months since their anniversary date salary
increases. The table below provides several examples of prorating salary

Employee | Last | Months | Proration | New | Final
| Anniversar | in 2008 | Factor | Salary | Prorated
| y Review | Since | | Increase | Increase
| Date | Last | | |
| | Review | | |
1 | 1/1/08 | 12 | 12 / 12 = 1 | 5% | 5% x 1 = 5%
2 | 4/1/08 | 9 | 9 / 12 = | 3% | 3% x 0.75 =
| | | 0.75 | | 2.25%
3 | 9/1/08 | 4 | 4 / 12 = | 2.5% | 2.5% x 0.33 =
| | | 0.33 | | 0.83%
4 | 11/1/08 | 2 | 2 / 12 = | 2.5% | 2.5% x 0.17 =
| | | 0.17 | | 0.42%