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1 Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service Diagnostic Implementation July

2 This paper was prepared by: Professor Deborah Blackman, University of New South Wales, Canberra Professor Michael O Donnell, University of New South Wales, Canberra Dr Fiona Buick, University of Canberra Dr Damian West, Australia Public Service Commission Shayla Ribeiro, Australian Public Service Commission July 2014 Canberra, Australia Commonwealth of Australia July 2014 All material produced by the Australian Public Service Commission (the Commission) constitutes Commonwealth copyright administered by the Commission. The Commission reserves the right to set out the terms and conditions for the use of such material. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 and those explicitly granted below, all other rights are reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all material in this publication, except the Commission logo or badge, the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, and any material protected by a trade mark, is licensed under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. Details of the licence are available at: <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/au/>. Attributing Commission works Use of Commission material licensed under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence requires you to attribute the work in the manner specified by the Commission (but not in any way that suggests that the Commission endorses you or your use of the work). Almost any form of words is fine provided that you: provide a reference to the publication and, where practical, the relevant pages make clear whether or not you have changed Commission content make clear what permission you are relying on, by including a reference to this page or to a human-readable summary of the Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence do not suggest that the Commission endorses you or your use of our content. For example, if you have not changed Commission content in any way, you might state: Sourced from the Australian Public Service Commission publication [name of publication]. This material is licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence. If you have made changes to Commission content, it would be more accurate to describe it as based on Australian Public Service Commission content instead of sourced from the Australian Public Service Commission. An appropriate citation for this paper is: Blackman, D., Buick, F., O Donnell, M., O Flynn, J. and West, D. (2013), Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service, Australian Public Service Commission, Canberra. Enquiries For enquiries concerning reproduction and rights in Commission products and services, please contact: i

3 Performance Management as a tool for High Performance Purpose The purpose of the Diagnostic process is to support the implementation of a High Performance Framework which will enable Australian Public Service (APS) agencies achieve high performance through the maximisation of their performance management systems. Based on research which identified that the attainment of high performance is affected more by the implementation of a performance system, rather than by redesigning the system itself, the Diagnostic process has been developed to enhance APS Agency outcomes from performance management. Application of the Diagnostic process should enable APS agencies develop performance management systems which reflect a clear articulation of high performance at the agency, group and individual levels, thereby providing clear links for individuals between their work objectives and the priorities of their agency. Organisational structure, management, administrative and systems will be reviewed and, where necessary, updated to support clear expectations of the standard of work required, offer feedback to employees focused on how they can improve or sustain their performance, and enable capability development where required. Aim The overarching aim of the Diagnostic process is to support APS agencies in achieving high performance. To facilitate the achievement of high performance, the Diagnostic process has been designed to: gauge the extent to which an agency s practices and its people capabilities align with those which have been demonstrated to positively impact performance (high performance principles); assist APS agencies to assess their baseline condition, identify areas of strength and weakness, and the required actions to achieve more consistent and better practice; and utilise quantitative and qualitative inputs to identify key areas requiring improvement and provide suggestions for action. The Diagnostic framework used to guide the process incorporates both primary and secondary questions which will encourage a line of enquiry and reflection regarding whether current performance processes within an agency are supporting the development of high performance. The use of both the Diagnostic process and framework should, over time, enable an agency to make an assessment of year-on-year improvement. Research Findings Extensive research has been undertaken into how to use performance management more effectively to enable the development of high performance. The Strengthening the Performance Framework project has brought together the findings of a review of the existing literature; data from the State of the Service Report (SoSR) ; agency consultations and research undertaken in seven APS agencies (including in-depth interviews with 226 participants); and cross-case comparisons to generate a High Performance Framework for the APS. The Framework comprises four Principles and three Foundation elements (see diagram at Figure 1: Principles for High Performing Government. The full report, Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service (March 2013) is available at: apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/strengthening-performance. The High Performance Framework is based on the proposition that, to enable high performance, there needs to be a renewed emphasis on performance management as a core activity that is embedded in all 1

4 management functions. To be meaningful and effective, performance management needs to be integrated with other management and human resources practices in order to develop an integrated system of high performance; it would commence with job design and flow through to when an employee leaves the agency. Many of the mechanisms required are often already evident in agencies. However, their application may be limited and there will be a number of areas where, through effective implementation, the performance management system could be improved to support employee engagement and high performance. The Diagnostic framework provides a tool that will enable agencies to assess strengths and weaknesses regarding their performance management implementation. The 2013 employee census data suggests that there are opportunities to improve on current practices. For example: 18 per cent of APS staff reported that they had not received formal performance feedback in the last 12 months, only a slight improvement from 20 per cent the previous year; and Employees who agreed that their most recent performance review would help to improve their performance has declined to 42 per cent from 48 per cent in just one year. Interestingly, the data from the 2013 agency census indicates an improvement in the proportion of agencies with measures in place to encourage the active management of underperforming staff, up from 77 per cent in 2012 to 83 per cent. The proportion of agencies that reported managers were not rewarded for superior staff management skills remained relatively stable (50 per cent compared to 51 per cent last year). The Strengthening the Performance Framework research found that major reconfiguring of an agency s current performance management process was not necessarily the priority to address these challenges. Rather, making the current performance management system more effective through improved implementation and support for managers and employees was more valuable and likely to lead to longer term productivity improvements. This research has highlighted that there are actions which agencies can take to improve the implementation of performance management across the APS, such as: discuss and define what high performance means at the agency, group and individual level within an agency; ensure that agency goals are clearly understood and the importance of those goals is made relevant to each employee; provide managers with guidance on how to set goals and provide feedback on performance: for example immediately prior to the commencement of the review cycle; ensure managers are held accountable for supporting, maintaining and improving the performance of their staff; ensure managers are held accountable for the quality of performance agreements that are developed with their employees; provide access to training that helps build the people management skills of managers (such as improved skill in the design of performance agreements and providing quality feedback); support employee participation in decision-making, planning and setting accountability measures; make sure that all employees have a relevant performance agreement in place; all employees are held responsible for their performance; ensure all employees receive targeted feedback on their performance; and improve the use of the probation period through establishing clear performance expectations up front, providing feedback during the probation period and taking steps to improve performance if necessary. 2

5 The research undertaken by the Strengthening the Performance Framework project team has enabled a better understanding of current performance management practice across agencies. The research has identified that, for performance management to be effective, it must have a clear purpose and be meaningful to employees. Performance management needs to be the mechanism for: aligning employees to agency requirements; clearly articulating and managing expectations; clearly establishing role and goal clarity; identifying the support required to enable goal attainment; discussing future career aspirations; identifying developmental needs; monitoring and reviewing performance; ensuring that standards of performance align with expectations; and recognising good performance. Research Outcomes Changes have already taken place within the APS which reflect the research findings, designed to support the implementation of performance management systems in general. These include: Changes to legislation The findings of the Strengthening the Performance Framework project have informed amendments to the amended Public Service Act 1999 (the Act) and Public Service Regulations 1999, and the new Australian Public Service Commissioner s Directions 2013, which were effective as at 1 July These amendments include a new section 10A which states that APS is a career based public service that requires effective performance from each employee. APS Employment Principles Chapter 4 of the new APS Commissioner s Directions supports the application of paragraph 10A(1)(d) of the Act and deals with performance management. Clause 4.1 provides that in upholding and promoting the Employment Principle in 10A(1)(d) of the Act, an agency head will support employees to achieve effective performance by ensuring that their agency: builds the capability necessary to achieve the outcomes properly expected by the Government; has fair and open performance management processes and practices that support a culture of high performance, in which all performance is effectively managed; provides each APS employee with a clear statement of the performance and behaviour expected of him or her, and an opportunity to discuss his or her responsibilities; requires employees to participate constructively in agency-based performance management processes and practices; invests in building the capability of managers to manage performance effectively; and uses its performance management processes to guide salary movement and reward. 3

6 Core skills: Performance Management Program The Strategic Centre for Leadership, Learning and Development has developed an APS Performance Management learning program to improve manager capabilities in performance management. This program will develop capabilities in the following areas: understanding the legal framework for performance management in the APS; linking everyday employee tasks and results to strategic/ business outcomes; developing performance agreements that are both meaningful and motivate employees because they are tailored to the individual and the context; identifying employee development and support needs; monitor, review and evaluate performance; providing interactive constructive feedback on performance; receiving feedback; managing levels of performance (including high and underperformance); and the use of appropriate performance management and organisational tools to assist the process. Implementing the High Performance Framework The High Performance Framework comprises four Principles (and practices) for high performance and three Foundation elements (see diagram at Figure 1: Principles for High Performing Government. The full report, Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service (March 2013) is available at: A Principle is a design element of any performance management system. It will influence application and implementation of a system in terms of how the content of performance management agreements are developed. A Foundation element is a necessary condition for high performance, which acts as part of the organisational support structure, underpinning the implementation process. The purpose of the Diagnostic process is to enable agencies to explore the effectiveness of their current performance management practices and identify what is required to improve existing practices to enable high performance. This reflection will involve identifying key areas of strength that the Agency can build upon to achieve high performance. It will also involve identifying key areas for improvement which the Agency will need to address in order to enhance performance. Following this reflection, any changes required to enable improvements in performance management can be established. The Principles provide a framework for APS agencies to gauge whether the necessary processes are already in place and, if so, how effectively they are contributing to improvement in the management of performance in the APS. In addition to supporting High Performance, the Diagnostic process will also enable agencies to evaluate progress in their implementation of: the Public Service Act, including the new Employment Principles and Commissioner s Directions; activities to build capacity in the core skills of performance management; the APS work level standards; and enhance managerial capabilities through the core skills training. 4

7 Figure 1: High Performance Framework 5

8 Elements of the High Performance Framework Principles Principle 1: Clarity in what High Performance represents and clear role purpose The first step in attaining high performance is for government, organisations, groups, teams and individuals to clearly define what high performance means at each of these levels within the specific context being addressed, enabling the purpose at each level to be outlined. Principle 2: Alignment between high-level strategies and individual goals and integration between human resource practices and organisational systems Organisations should pursue alignment between high-level strategies and group and individual goals to ensure employees have a clear line of sight between their roles and both the governmental and organisational objectives. Alignment can be achieved through the integration of human resource practices with one another and with other management processes. Effective systems are also required to support managers and employees to achieve the goals and workplace behaviours expected of them. Principle 3: MUTUALITY of employee and management participation in performance management and awareness of what drives employee MOTIVATION towards High Performance Performance management can only improve if mutuality and employee participation are promoted. Employees and managers can be encouraged to develop joint ownership of the performance management process and the outcomes achieved. This will require managers and employees to actively participate in the development of meaningful performance agreements and in the assessment and evaluation of performance outcomes. Principle 4: ADAPTABILITY of performance in a changing environment and PROGRESS towards organisational and government outcomes There is a need for adaptability of performance in a changing environment. Consequently, processes need to be flexible and open to review. Organisations are encouraged to develop systems that support the measurement of progress towards organisational and government goals throughout the performance cycle and not just at the completion of the cycle. 6

9 Foundation Elements Our findings point to three foundation elements which underpin the four principles and the attainment of high performance. Foundation 1: EVIDENCE and DATA There should be a strategic approach to collecting data that is relevant to goal attainment and strategic and operational decision-making. Available data should be used to enable performance improvement though the effective communication of performance trends, targets and attainments. Foundation 2: PRAGMATISM Performance management (and other processes) should have realistic goals, plans, and be fit for purpose. They need to be appropriate for the organisational context, reflecting any specific requirements or conditions relevant to individual organisations. Foundation 3: CAPABILITIES To become a high performing organisation, the resources, routines, structures, systems and processes of an organisation are brought together and leveraged. The focus here is on ensuring they complement one another and enable high performance. The competencies of all employees are a critical part of this foundation element as it will be the leadership, management, support services and employee competencies which will enable the long term development of the organisational capabilities. Implementing the Diagnostic Instrument This section outlines the approach that will be adopted to facilitate implementation. As indicated earlier, the overarching aim of the Diagnostic process is to support APS agencies in achieving high performance. To facilitate the achievement of high performance, the Diagnostic process has been designed to: gauge the extent to which an agency s practices and its people capabilities align with those which have been demonstrated to positively impact performance (high performance principles); assist APS agencies to assess their baseline condition, identify areas of strength and weakness, and the required actions to achieve more consistent and better practice; and utilise quantitative and qualitative inputs to identify key areas requiring improvement and provide suggestions for action. In order to achieve this, a series of steps will be undertaken as outlined in the Diagnostic Implementation Workflow (see Table 1). 7

10 Table 1: Diagnostic Implementation Workflow Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performance Australian Public Service The Performance Management Diagnostic is a self-diagnostic tool and the process can be undertaken by an agency by following the steps outlined in this workflow. If required, the APSC is available to assist agencies with the process. Agency responsibility APSC or external facilitator responsibility (if assistance sought) Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE ONE: Diagnostic preparation 1. Prior to undertaking the Diagnostic process, an agency needs to firstly understand the performance management (PM) context/ environment of their agency. This can be achieved in several ways: Research and review all the relevant PM material within the agency (i.e. check PM intranet/ internet pages; speak to HR personnel regarding the PM system; review agency policies etc). 3 4 weeks prior to undertaking the Diagnostic exercise. Access the Performance Management Diagnostic package and information about the Strengthening the Performance Framework project, including reports and discussion papers, available at: Read the report Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performance APS, available at: Read the information about the Performance Management learning materials, available at: performance-management-learning-materials The agency is able to request from the APSC material which will provide the agency with an overview of its performance management environment: analysis of relevant data from the State of the Service Report (SoSR) employee census. Obtaining the previous 3 4 years census data (if available) will provide year-to-year changes; agency specific surveys/ questionnaires; and Capability Review findings. For information about the Performance Management Diagnostic instrument, please send an to the Performance Project team at: 8

11 Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE ONE: Diagnostic preparation 2. After reviewing an agency s internal performance system and after reading the material on the Diagnostic instrument publicly available, if required, an agency is able to contact the Performance Project team at the APSC and set up an initial meeting to discuss: 2 3 weeks prior to scheduled Diagnostic exercise. The background/ reasons why the agency wants to undertake the Diagnostic process. Agree on date(s)/ location(s) and number of Diagnostic interviews and focus groups to be conducted. This will vary depending on the size of the agency and what the agency hopes to achieve from the Diagnostic exercise. If applicable, agree on specific roles and responsibilities of each party (i.e. the agency and the APSC). The agency s HR area coordinates and manages the logistics for the Diagnostic process. This involves a considerable amount of planning and investment of time to schedule and conduct interviews and focus groups. For example, HR officers will need to seek volunteers to participate in the Diagnostic process, monitor responses, schedule interviews and arrange rooms to hold interviews. This is quite a labour intensive exercise and plenty of time should be allocated for the planning of how the Diagnostic exercise will run in the agency. If APSC assistance is sought If an agency seeks assistance from the APSC, the Performance Project team is available to: Explain the overarching purpose of the Diagnostic process (e.g. to achieve high performance within an agency). Explain how the Diagnostic instrument will support the agency to achieve high performance (e.g. it is a tool that will assist APS agencies to identify key areas of strength and weakness and the required actions to achieve consistent and better practices internally). Develop an agency specific questionnaire and communications material which an agency can use to promote the Diagnostic process and invite employees to participate. 9

12 Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE ONE: Diagnostic preparation 3. An agency is encouraged to independently research, review and analyse all the information that is available in order to gain insight where the data has indicated areas for improvement. The agency reviews the set of Diagnostic questions (see ANNEX 1) and determines (a) the core questions that will be asked to all participants based on the key areas of focus relative to the agency and its aim and objectives and (b) if there are any agency specific questions that should be asked. The agency promotes the Diagnostic process, via the intranet or communication to: 1-2 weeks prior to scheduled Diagnostic exercise. Provide background on the project. Invite employees to take part in interviews or focus groups. Encourage all staff to complete the agency specific questionnaire which will be open to all employees while the Diagnostic process is being conducted in the agency. In regards to the performance management all staff survey, the initial communication will (among other things) highlight: why they are being surveyed; who s conducting the survey; how the results are going to be used; how long the survey will be open; when the survey will start; and what they are going to have to do. This is typically via though it can be done via face-to-face or via the agency s intranet. If APSC assistance is sought If the agency requires further clarification/ information, then this is their opportunity to contact the Performance Project team (APSC) to discuss any issues prior to the commencement of the Diagnostic process. The discussion is intended to be an informal Q&A conversation and should resolve any agency concerns before starting the Diagnostic process. 10

13 Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE TWO: Diagnostic process (see Annex 1 for the full set of Performance Management Diagnostic questions) 4. Using the Diagnostic questions, the agency facilitates semi-structured interviews (EL and SES) and focus groups (EL and APS levels) across agreed areas (e.g. All groups and Divisions across the agency; or focus on one Division within agency). Specific emphasis is being placed on uncovering the how and why practices are effective or ineffective and identifying specific actions that can be enhanced (if effective) or addressed (if ineffective). A broad set of questions have been prepared, covering all aspects of the Principles for High Performing Government framework. The Diagnostic line of questioning has been designed so that any number of questions can be asked to gain insight into the agency s performance environment. However, based on analysis of available agency data, some core questions must be asked to all participants in order to gain unique insight where the data has indicated areas for improvement. The results will be analysed and interpreted by agency who has conducted the Diagnostic process. The Diagnostic process can take between 1 2 weeks to complete depending on the size of the agency. NOTE: To avoid perceived bias, an agency may want to consider bringing in an external facilitator or seeking the help of another agency to conduct the semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. Also, larger APS agencies are encouraged to undertaken the Diagnostic process simultaneously by in-house HR personnel and also by an external facilitator. By doing so, the agency will gain broad data from across the agency and will then be able to compare with the findings from the external facilitator. In addition, the agency will gain a sense of whether employee perspectives on the agency performance system differ when speaking to external facilitators. Agency specific performance management questionnaire An agency Pulse questionnaire focusing on performance management will run alongside the Diagnostic process and all employees will be invited to complete it. The performance management questionnaire explores both employees and manager s perceptions of manager behaviours and agency processes. The purpose of the survey is to contribute to a broader Diagnostic process that the agency is undertaking to assist in identifying areas of the performance management system that can be strengthened. On the first day an or intranet notice should be sent to all staff, which lets employees know that the survey has opened and includes a link to the survey site (the link is normally provided by the survey provider). About half-way though the survey period, the agency should provide some idea of the proportion of responses received, and it can be useful for the agency to send out another / intranet reminder for those who haven t yet participated to join their colleagues who have already participated. On the last day of the survey, a final reminder should be sent inviting those who are yet to participate to join their colleagues who have and reminding them that this is their last opportunity to participate. As soon as possible after the survey closes, a thank you note should be sent to employees including how many people participated in the survey and some idea of how long it may be before they hear about the results of the survey. 11

14 Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE THREE: Data analysis 5. The agency or external facilitator who conducted the Diagnostic process collates and analyses the data in terms of findings that reflect each Principle and Foundation element of the High Performance Framework. The data is drawn from two data sets the Pulse questionnaire (quantitative) and the interview/ focus group discussions (qualitative). A draft Diagnostic report findings is prepared. To view a template of the Diagnostic report, see Annex 2. NOTE: If applicable, for agencies that conducted the process simultaneously through in-house HR personnel and by an external facilitator, each party independently reviews and analyses the data and prepares draft Diagnostic report findings. 6. The agency should now have completed the data collection and analysis stages of the process and prepared a draft report which is designed as a reflective tool for the agency. The agency arranges a workshop session with the agency s Executive Team. In the report, under each section in key areas for improvement there is a heading high performance practices that enable improvement A workshop session is arranged with the agency s Executive Team as part of the report development process. This step is necessary if there is to be real buy in to any changes emerging from the process, it is important that they are developed with the Executive Team in such a way that they are realistic and seen to be able to add real value. The draft report is circulated to the Executive Team prior to the workshop. What needs to be considered is both the contents of the draft report and also what are the specific actions that are considered to be appropriate for the next steps in developing effective performance management in the agency. At the workshop, a brief overview of the findings will be provided and the agency is able to then: 2 3 weeks depending on the volume of data to be reviewed and analysed. 1 week draft report is sent to the agency Executive team a week prior to the scheduled workshop session. answer questions about the report findings and suggestions; and lead a discussion as to the next steps to be taken and why? The objective of the workshop is so that an agency can then add the proposed actions into the draft report which will then be finalised. 7. The agency finalises the Diagnostic report based on the conversation with the Executive Team at the workshop session. The agreed actions that were considered to be appropriate for the next steps in developing effective performance management in the agency and why is added to the Diagnostic report. Timeframes for implementation of strategies should also be included in the final Diagnostic report. 8. The agency implements the necessary actions identified in the report to address areas of improvement in their performance system. Actions should be prioritised into short/ medium and long term. 1 2 weeks Within 2 3 months after the final Diagnostic report findings are presented to the Executive Team. 12

15 Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE THREE: Data analysis 9. If requested by the agency, the APSC could look to modify the Performance Management learning program materials to provide a tailored training pack option which reflects the findings of the Diagnostic process. This could then be delivered by the agency s trainers or facilitated by the APSC. Information about the learning material is available at: To be considered on a case by case basis. Step Action(s) required Lead responsibility Timeframe Status PHASE FOUR: Evaluation and key learning 10. An agency reviews progress against the implementation plan approximately months after implementation. The agency can also request the APSC to review agency employee attitudes to performance management based on the yearly SoSR employee census data. This will enable the agency to monitor its year-on-year performance. 11. The agency Executive to prepare a letter addressed to the Australian Public Service Commissioner on the key agency learnings and feedback on the Diagnostic process. It is recommended that the Diagnostic process is conducted again in approximately months after the agency has implemented the necessary short/ medium and long term changes to their performance management system. 2 3 weeks after the agency has presented their final Diagnostic report findings to the agency Executive. As indicated in Table 1, three sets of quantitative and qualitative data will be used to inform the process: 1. State of the Service Report (SoSR) census data: this presents base line data deriving from specific questions within the report regarding the implementation of performance management. The purpose of including this data is to provide the Agency with insight into the broader context which performance management is implemented. It also provides a data set to facilitate reflection on the Principles and identify the key areas of strength (for the Agency to build upon) and weakness (areas that need to be addressed) that will need to be considered in order to improve performance within the Agency. 2. Diagnostic Framework Questions: this presents a series of qualitative questions (primary and secondary) designed to explore the Agency execution of each Principle and Foundation elements. These questions will enable a shared and improved understanding of the Agency s performance management systems and processes, highlighting areas of strength, as well as those that need improvement. The objective is to generate a discussion as to how to improve current practices in order to achieve higher performance. 3. A Performance Management Pulse Survey: a survey specifically targeted at the Agency and designed to build a deeper understanding of employee perspectives of performance management within the Agency. This will provide a snap shot of data at exactly the time of the qualitative data collection for comparative purposes across the Agency. 13

16 Annex 1: PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT DIAGNOSTIC QUESTIONS In the context of understanding the performance management systems and work practices operating within the agency and to identify areas of strength and weakness, a series of questions will be asked to elicit whether current performance processes within the agency are supporting the development of high performance. Specific emphasis is being placed on uncovering how and why practices are effective or ineffective and identifying specific actions that can be enhanced (if effective) or addressed (if ineffective). This will enable analysis of the specific causal factors that support or impede high performance, rather than merely the effects or surface level manifestations of these issues. In doing so, the analysis will inform strategy development focused on addressing causal factors and, therefore, optimise the chance of achieving high performance over the long-term. A broad set of questions have been prepared, covering all aspects of the Principles for High Performing Government framework. The Diagnostic line of questioning has been designed so that any number of questions can be asked to gain insight into the agency s performance environment. However, based on analysis of available agency data, some core question must be asked to all participants in order to gain unique insight where the data has indicated areas for improvement. Part of the Diagnostic preparation in Phase 1 (see Diagnostic workflow table) is to determine, based on the core issues you wish to address by undertaking the Diagnostic, which are the questions that will be asked of all of the participants. This is also the time to consider if there are any questions missing that you would like to add in. Please bear in mind that questions should only be added in that are related to the performance management system in some way. For example, if the organisation thinks it is using performance management to encourage specific behaviours or changes these might be addressed in some way. Questions 1-14 seek to identify whether the Principles are present in the Agency s current performance system, and if so, how effectively are they in achieving high performance. Principle 1: Purpose and Clarity 1. What is High Performance for your context? Does your Agency have a shared understanding of what High Performance represents at the Agency, group and individual level? How does the Agency performance contribute to whole-of-government outcomes? How is this shared understanding of high performance cascaded through the Agency? What effect does it have for your group and you as an individual? Can you give examples of the work practices that support high performance in your Agency? What work practices impede the achievement of high performance? Why do these practices support or impede? 2. How are your role and performance expectations articulated to you? Are they articulated in a way that provides you with a clear role purpose? 3. Why can performance management be a challenge for your Agency? 4. What are the benefits (for employees/managers/agency) of effective performance management? 14

17 Principle 2: Alignment and Integration 5. How clear is the Agency s strategic plan for employees? How effectively is the Agency s strategic plan translated into day-to-day activities for employees? Are senior management effective in engaging with employees and communicating higher-level goals for groups and individuals? How are individual performance agreements aligned to the Agency and group goals/objectives? What is done to ensure the achievement of this alignment? How does alignment, or lack of, impact performance? [for example, enabling or impeding the prioritisation of work and identification of what is most important]. 6. To what extent is performance management integrated into the Agency s HR practices: e.g. job analysis and design, recruitment/selection, learning and development and workforce planning? What would an integrated HR system look like (i.e. where HR practices are integrated and complementary)? What evidence is there to demonstrate that management decisions (e.g. job design, L&D, workforce planning) inform or are informed by the performance management process? [For example, how does performance management inform /help your job design?] What are the structural, systemic or procedural enablers and/or impediments to achieving high performance (if any)? Principle 3: Mutuality and Motivation 7. How extensively are employees involved in activities such as strategy development, target-setting, planning and setting accountability measures? How do employees demonstrate their understanding of high performance in their area? 8. How effective are managers in setting performance agreements and establishing clear performance expectations with staff? How competent are managers at differentiating between levels of performance? What tools support managers to do this? What is the role of employees in setting and reviewing performance expectations? 9. How are managers held to account for improving the performance of their staff? What work practices support or inhibit managerial accountability? 10. What accountability mechanisms are in place to ensure that underperformance is managed? Are these mechanisms used to ensure that underperformance is actively managed? What sanctions can or are applied if underperformance is not managed?. 11. What are some situations (other than a performance review) in which managers/ employees might have a performance conversation? 12. What behaviours/actions constitute under-performance? 15

18 Principle 4: Adaptability and Progress 13. How does the Agency capture and track progress against high-level goals? How is progress demonstrated to employees? 14. What mechanisms are in place to enable employees to review their performance agreement in light of changes (either in terms of the task or the way the task needs to be undertaken)? Foundation element: Capabilities Questions seek to identify whether the Foundation elements (enablers which underpin the Principles) are present and if so, how effective are they in achieving high performance within the Agency. 15. What tools do you use, or are available to you to use, to demonstrate the development needs of staff? 16. When have you seen feedback delivered well? What did the feedback provider do? 17. How aware is the Agency of the capabilities of its workforce and what is required into the future? How is data collected about necessary Agency capabilities (if relevant)? 18. What in particular makes the Agency effective (or ineffective) at developing the capabilities of employees? 19. What mechanisms are in place to ensure that leaders and managers model high performance behaviours and aspire to high performance outcomes in an ongoing manner? How does the Agency ensure that all managers: understand the goals for the future; are clear about the importance of the goals; and can formulate a compelling vision? Foundation element: Evidence and Data 20. Are appropriate data and information used to make performance management decisions? 21. How is data and information used to inform strategic, management and HR decisions at the Agency, group and individual levels? 22. What evidence is used to differentiate between levels of performance? 23. What extra data could you use to inform decision-making and why do you think it would be useful? Foundation element: Pragmatism 24. In terms of performance management what is working well in your Agency/Branch/Section and why? 25. What mechanisms are in place to ensure performance targets and plans are realistic (e.g. can be achieved with current/forecasted resources)? 26. If you could make one realistic, practical and implementable change to how your agency manages performance, what would it be? 16

19 Annex 2: DIAGNOSTIC FINDINGS TEMPLATE Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a High Performing Australian Public Service Diagnostic Implementation Report

20 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Insert executive summary AIM Insert aim of the project DIAGNOSTIC PROCESS The (insert agency name), undertook a body of work to assess the effectiveness of current approaches to performance management in (insert agency name). From xx to xx 2014, a series of interviews and focus groups were conducted throughout the agency, across all groups, to gauge the extent to which the agency s internal practices and its people capabilities align with those which have been demonstrated to positively impact performance. The process identified areas of strength, weakness, and areas for discussion to enable the agency to determine actions to achieve more consistent and better practice. Interviews and focus groups were conducted in (insert areas/sites). A total of xx employees from (insert classification levels of participants) level participated in Diagnostic process. In addition, all agency employees were invited to complete a short questionnaire on performance management. Employees had from xx to xx 2014 to complete the Pulse survey. A total of xx responses were received. Table 1: Agency participation in the Diagnostic process Sites APS1-6 focus groups EL1 focus groups EL2 interviews SES interviews Executive Total Canberra Sydney Perth Melbourne Total The data was thematically analysed. Insert paragraph on how the agency analysed the data. Throughout the data collection, a range of suggestions were made by staff in terms of how to develop high performance. These are summarised in Appendix 2: Agency staff suggestions for improvement.

21 AREAS OF EFFECTIVE PRACTICE (repeat for each thematic finding) The agency has a number of practices that are working well. These are summarised below. Insert description Summary of what is working well. What is the impact? Describe the impact on agency/ group/ individuals. Why does it matter? Describe how this contributes to high performance. Agency high performance practices that enabling high performance Describe the practices that supporting the achievement of high performance. KEY AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT (repeat for each thematic finding) While good practices were cited by participants (as evidenced in the section above), agency staff also identified a number of challenges for using effective performance management to develop high performance. These are detailed below. Insert description Summary of identified area for improvement. What is the impact? Describe the negative impact on agency/ group/ individuals. Why does it matter? Describe the risks to high performance if issue is not addressed in agency. Agency high performance practices that will enable improvement Part of the report development process - to be determined at workshop with the Agency Executive Team. CONCLUSION In this overview a range of issues have been raised relating to developing and sustaining high performance in the agency. What is clear is that there are some elements that will support high performance, but there are others which need addressing if performance management is to become a really useful tool for the agency; these are synthesised in Table 1. The next stage will be the agency reflecting upon the issues raised in this report and determining a way forward.

22 Table 1: Findings that enable and inhibit high performance in the agency Agency practices that enable high performance Agency practices that inhibit high performance

23 APPENDIX 1: Principles for High Performing Government Figure 1: Principles for High Performing Government Outcome HIGH PERFORMING GOVERNMENT Purpose and Clarity Alignment and Integration Mutuality and Motivation Adaptability and Progress Creates CLARITY in what high performance represents and clear role PURPOSE ALIGNMENT between high-level strategies and individual goals and INTEGRATION between human resource practices and organisational systems so that they all work to support active management of performance Promote MUTUALITY employee and management ownership of performance management and awareness of what drives employee MOTIVATION towards high performance The need for ADAPTABILITY of performance in a changing environment and PROGRESS towards agency and government outcomes Capabilities includes the agency assets, routines and processes, and competencies of agency staff Evidence and data collecting data that is most relevant to goal attainment and clearly communicating performance trends and targets to inform decision making Pragmatism being realistic about what is possible and probable, ensuring that actions are fit for purpose and suitable for the current context Foundation Elements 1723

24 APPENDIX 2: Agency staff suggestions for improvement Throughout the data collection, a range of suggestions were made by staff in terms of how to develop high performance

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