The Coast Guard Excellence, Achievement and Recognition (EARS) is a performance management system, covering non-supervisory employees, which encourages communication and feedback between an employee and his/her supervisor. Employees are responsible for reviewing their position description for accurate major duties and responsibilities, jointly develop and discuss their performance plan with their supervisor and participate in performance progress review discussions.
A competency based system, EARS has nine core competencies, which are broad categories of performance attributes such as customer service, quality, timeliness, etc. that support organization values. Part IIa of the appraisal form lists the core competencies specific to an employee's position. EARS is made up of three major components: performance appraisal, rewards and recognition, and employee development.
- Performance Appraisal - A supervisor or manager must develop and discuss a performance plan with his/her GS and/or FWS employee, identifying a minimum of four (4) applicable Core Competencies, within 30 days after the cycle begins (1 April).
- Progress Reviews - Two progress reviews (August and December) and accompanying discussions are required during a full-year rating cycle (1 April to 31 March); one review is required if the appraisal period is 91-180 days.
- Delayed Rating - The appraisal period must be extended for the amount of time needed to meet the 90 day minimum appraisal period for a new employee who has not worked at least 90 days under an approved performance plan, as of 31 March. A rating of record is required at the end of the 90 day period.
- Annual Appraisal - The rating official assesses an employee’s performance of at least 90 days and prepares a recommended rating of record at the end of the appraisal cycle (31 March). Normally, an appraisal must be completed within 30 days after the appraisal period ends. An employee’s appraisal input/accomplishments may be considered by the supervisor along with other information (e.g., progress review, interim evaluations, etc.) when determining the rating of record. The supervisor, as Rating Official, must rate each core competency and assign an overall rating. The EARS (CG-3430.8R) Performance Plan and Evaluation form is available here.
- EARS Rating Levels are:
- Exceeds. Truly noteworthy performance accomplished with little supervision, which clearly exceeds the criteria for “Meets.”
- Meets. Good, sound performance accomplished with routine supervision that is generally consistent with the core competencies in the performance standards.
- Fails to Meet. The performance fails to meet the performance standard’s criteria. Unusually close supervision is required and/or correction to work products is substantial. If performance on one or more critical elements is rated as “Fails to Meet,” an employee’s summary rating of overall performance must be “Fails to Meet.” A summary rating of “Fails to Meet” must be documented.
- Approving Officials are generally the employee's second-level supervisor, who approves the rating of record.
- Rewards and Recognition (Performance Award) - An employee on an approved performance plan on the last day of the appraisal cycle, including any extension (delayed rating) needed to meet the minimum 90 day requirement, is eligible for a performance award. An employee is ineligible for a performance award if not in a pay status for at least 90 days or if the performance was rated “Fails to Meets.”
- Employee Development - An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a key tool for employee development. An IDP should include elective training, education, and developmental activities needed by an employee to acquire or build upon the competencies needed to achieve his/her career goals. During performance planning, an employee should be encouraged to initiate the development of an IDP. The extent to which an IDP can be supported is determined by management.