3 Approach to Performance Management

Companion Note for
Executive Performance
and Development
The key aims of the executive performance and development frameworks are to foster a public service
culture of high performance, accountability and continuous improvement. Every executive must have a
Performance Agreement approved by their agency Chief Executive (CE), or their supervisor, for 2013-14.
These agreements collectively outline how CE’s will achieve the objectives in their agreement with the
Premier, and how government priorities will be delivered.
The Commission of Audit emphasises the importance of performance management stating “There needs
to be tangible and demonstrable commitment to performance management by the chief executive and
other senior executives of agencies.”1
Performance frameworks are generic guides and templates designed to formalise the understanding
between an employee and their supervisor regarding work priorities and targets. The message from the
Commission of Audit is clear regarding the need for “frequent, informal conversations with employees
to provide feedback on their performance.” The formal documentation supports regular performance
feedback, but should not replace it.
Both parties need to be actively engaged in all aspects of the process, this is a two-way
partnership and process whereby both parties provide one another with ongoing, honest and
open feedback.
This paper is a supplement to the Executive Performance and Development Guides2 and provides further
information on the role of CE or supervisors of executives at the approval stage of performance and
development agreements for 2013-14.
Chief Executive Perspective on Executive Agreements
Chief Executives are encouraged to use a moderation process when assessing the performance of their
executives to ensure clear differentiation between strong and less strong performance. This process of
reflection is an ideal opportunity to consider:
executive development needs;
workforce movements within the agency; and
contract implications such as pay point increments, renewal or termination.
Therefore, it is in the executive’s interest to draft a performance agreement that contains clear
measures that will accurately reflect their achievements. Before approving an executive agreement,
supervisors should consider what information they will need to make a fair and reasonable assessment
of the executive’s performance.
Queensland Commission of Audit – Final Report, February 2013, Volume 3, Part E5 – Performance Management, Page 3-446
Link to Executive Frameworks on the PSC website
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The final ratings for each executive will be based on an analysis of all available data, with consideration
of the factors that have impacted on the officer’s capacity to deliver the objective, such as: the
magnitude and complexity of the task; or previously unforeseen events.
Approach to Performance Management
The management of performance is based on good quality, agreed objectives. It is vital that supervisors
discuss and agree on objectives with their team members to ensure they:
 are able to link their performance to the objectives and strategies in the agency strategic plan.3
 understand how their tasks contribute to the attainment of their chief executive’s objectives.
Research undertaken by the Australian Public Service4 demonstrated that performance management
should be seen as a mechanism for:
 aligning employees to agency requirements
 clearly articulating and managing expectations
 identifying the support required to enable goal attainment
 discussing future career aspirations
 identifying development needs
 monitoring and reviewing performance
 ensuring that standards of performance align with expectations, and
 recognising good performance.
Once finalised, the objectives should be cascaded by the individual to at least the management level
below. The intention is to ensure clear accountabilities and enable managers to set goals and work plans
for their teams. In addition, it is envisaged that cascading objectives will increase the quality of objective
setting at senior levels.
The performance and development agreement process can support strong capability building, by
drawing on opportunities within the work agenda. It has been found that managers in high performing
spend more time and effort managing their people
have clear values and ‘practice what they preach’
give employees opportunities to lead work assignments and activities
encourage employee development and learning
welcome criticism and feedback as learning opportunities
give increased recognition and acknowledgement to employees
foster involvement and cooperation amongst employees
have a clear vision and goals for the future
are innovative and encourage employees to think about problems in new ways.5
Link to Agency Planning Requirements (2013) published by the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, November 2012.
Australian Public Service (2013) Strengthening the Performance Framework: Towards a high performing Australian Public
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Steps to Complete the Performance Components
Outline the priorities of the position for the relevant year, performance standards for a rating
of 3 and 5, and measures to assess if the targets are met (Part 1). Some executives may choose
to engage their direct reports in preparing these priorities and standards as a means to sharing
their vision of the priorities of their work group.
Discuss the draft with your supervisor to clarify the key responsibilities of the role and the
goals for the coming year. Supervisors will be looking for alignment with their own
performance standards.
In Objective 2 consider collaborative and innovative ways to deliver services across the
department, in conjunction with other departments, or by external parties. Discuss any new
initiatives that need to be accommodated.
Consider whether the proposed data sources are the most appropriate to support the midyear check in January 2014, and the end of year performance assessment in July 2014. The
executive should note where data availability may be an issue, or new sources will be required
to reflect additional deliverables.
The Personal Challenges section will identify any difficulties the individual may have in
completing the set tasks. This may include a variety of elements: budget restrictions, whether
capital, operational or FTE; timeframes; capability deficiencies in the current team; or personal
knowledge/experience gaps that may adversely affect the intended outcomes. All of these
issues should be discussed with the supervisor, together with options to address them.
Personal challenges in terms of the executive’s knowledge or experience should be addressed
in Part 2 of the template under “Proposed Actions” and linked to “Impact on Performance
Objectives”. See Appendix 1 for “Tips for Effective Performance”.
Finalise the agreement and submit to the CE or supervisor as appropriate for endorsement.
Steps to Complete the Development Components
Template - Part 3 Self Assessment
Review the full list of 13 competencies and select what you consider your top 4 strengths by
placing ticks in the “Strengths” column. These are the ones that best describe your skill set,
regardless of the role you are currently in. You will probably identify with all of these, as they are
the skills necessary for executives, but select your top 4 only.
Select 4 competencies in the “Satisfactory” column where you consider your performance is
Boedker C., Vidgen R., Meagher K., Cogin J., Mouritsen J., and Runnalls J. M. (2011) Leadership, Culture and Management Practices of High
Performing Workplaces in Australia: The High Performing Workplaces Index, Society for Knowledge Economics
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Select up to 4 competencies in the “Development Objective” column that you would like to
work on to raise to a higher level, bearing in mind the “Personal Challenges” listed in Part 1.
These may be areas where you are already strong but need to raise to a higher level to excel in
your current role or seek a promotion. It is better to focus on 2 or 3 competencies at any one
time than to try and cover too many.
Individuals should use multiple sources of information for their self assessment. Those who have
completed their executive capability assessment with PSC will have the results of the debrief
and a leadership development plan in place.
Other considerations are:
Career goals including, your perception of your ability, aspiration and engagement for
future leadership roles.
o Ability - intellectual, technical, and emotional skills in managing increasingly
complex challenges.
o Aspiration - level of personal connection and commitment towards the organisation.
o Engagement - the desire for recognition, advancement, and future rewards, and
the extent to which desires align with the organisation’s future direction6.
Discussion/feedback from your supervisor on performance, including those who have
known your work for at least 12 months and from a variety of contexts.
Feedback received from past selection processes.
Self reflection on areas requiring further development.
Template - Part 2 Development Planning
Transfer the competency numbers of the chosen Development Objectives to Part 2.
Complete the “Proposed Actions” with the activity you propose to undertake within the year.
Timeframes will assist in planning where opportunities are not available at all times
The information on Parts 2 and 3 of the PDA template will inform your agency and the PSC as to
the types of development required by executives. Review the form to ensure there is a clear
connection between the “Personal Challenges in achieving performance objectives” in Part 1 to
the Development Objectives and Actions in Part 2. The self assessment in Part 3 will assist
individuals to clarify their strengths and development objectives.
Effective Development Planning
A key component in preparing a development plan will be identifying development activities in the
next 12 months. Skill development is reported as 75 to 90 percent learned on the job. Utilising an
on-the-job approach has benefits not only from a developmental perspective but also from a
workplace efficiency perspective.
Development through on-the-job experience offers the following benefits to the organisation:
 applies learning immediately to real work-based issues/ tasks rather than an artificial situation
6 Corporate Leadership Council. (2011). From rising stars to successful leaders: Identify and develop your top talent with rigorous
program management based on proven best practices. The Corporate Executive Board Company.
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 links learning to tasks so employees are aware of the relevance of the development
 uses valuable time and resources efficiently to achieve development and project outcomes
 involves others in the workplace in the developmental activity including co-workers,
supervisors and managers
 encourages participants to take responsibility for their own development that is customised to
 transfers the learning process from one situation to a range of other situations.
As adults learn most effectively through experience, a strong emphasis should be on learning in the
workplace. Experience-based development can increase individual performance by as much as
Development activities linked to job challenges you may consider for yourself or others, are:
On the job
 Job rotation or work shadowing a more senior officer or another officer
with particular skills for a specified period of time.
 Stretch assignments undertaken as part of the role to broaden
experience and provide challenging ‘out of my comfort zone’
development. See Attachment 3.
 Sector-wide innovative project - undertake a cross-agency/sector project
with other officers focusing on an innovation or change agenda.
 Reflective journal of development experiences.
 On-the-job debriefs.
 Secondments.
 Acting in higher level positions.
Peer learning
 Mentoring and coaching direct reports over a period of time.
 Selecting a mentor to mentor you over a period of time.
 Performance conversations with peers covering job challenges and
development needs.
 Collaboration with other officers on agency/sector wide objectives.
 New media networks e.g. LinkedIn or SharePoint.
 Alumni associations.
 Professional organisations.
Formal learning  Formal programs such as those offered by PSC - Link to PSC offerings.
 Online training modules and resources e.g. online development tools,
podcasts, webinars, internet research.
 Distance learning.
Corporate Leadership Council. Building the High-Performance Workforce. 2002. Corporate Executive Board.
Michael.M.Lombardo., & Robert W. Eichinger.(1996-2009) FYI For your improvement: A guide for development and coaching.
Lominger International: A Korn/Ferry Company is a useful resource.
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 Conferences and seminars.
 Research and case studies.
 Study tours.
See Appendix 3 for “Approaches to Professional Development” and Appendix 5 for “Stretch
Role/Assignment Risk Assessment Guide” .
Performance feedback that does not differentiate between strong and less strong performance provides
limited value to the officer and is counter to the high performance culture needed. Executive
performance feedback and scores that validly discern and differentiate performance levels will reinforce
high achievement and motivate executives.
See Appendices 2 and 4 for more information on managing performance.
For assistance:
CE’s may contact the Commission Chief Executive, Ian Maynard, to discuss any issues in relation
to the executive performance process.
Executives seeking assistance on preparing their performance and development agreement
should contact their agency Director of Human Resources.
For general enquiries, contact the Performance and Review Branch in PSC at [email protected]
List of Appendices:
Tips for Effective Performance
Tips for Giving and Receiving Feedback
Approaches to Professional Development
Handling Dips in Performance
Stretch Role/Assignment Risk Assessment Guide
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Appendix 1: Tips for Effective Performance9
Tackle performance every day on the day. You should make time to address performance every
day – good and bad. Hold regular and constructive discussions. Make sure you tackle poor
performance on the day it occurs and in more detail in the first one to one that follows – do not
wait for a six monthly or annual review. Talking to people about issues when they occur is vital,
backing this up when needed with a file note you share with them enables and supports any
formal process. Filing a note you haven’t shared with the person undermines any formal process
rather than assisting it.
In tackling extremes don’t miss the majority. While you can sometimes find you concentrate your
time and effort on employees who perform at the extremes of the continuum, the majority are
usually in between. There is real performance improvement here which is within your grasp.
Identifying those whose performance is improving or declining and managing accordingly can
make a real difference to individual and team performance. Most people genuinely welcome
feedback that helps them to improve and want to do well.
How people get things done is important as well as getting them done. Attitude and behaviour
are part of performance – you can and should manage them. As communicators, how we present
ourselves, handle situations and market our profession are part of getting the job done well. You
need to address attitude and behavioural problems even if ‘technical’ performance or delivery is
good. This isn’t about deeming a specific leadership style better or worse than any other, but
about demonstrating both the corporate and organisational behavioural expectations.
Organisational expectations are set out in the agency framework and in the Code of Conduct.
Departments should set out clearly any organisational expectations so that objectives can be
linked to the business aims. In both cases individuals and managers need to be clear about what is
expected of them and how this will be measured.
You need a different approach to managing behaviour and attitudes than managing capability.
Capability problems are best tackled by clear task based objectives, behavioural and attitude
problems by being very clear with people on the behaviour you want and don’t want. For
capability issues a reasonable timeframe for improvement can be put in place to take account of
any training/coaching requirements. Behaviour and attitude can be transformed very quickly if
you actually tackle it with people and then keep tackling it.
Establish the right relationship. That comes from being very clear from the start about the
standards that matter to your business and the organisation. It is also helpful to separate the
individual from their performance. You are not reviewing the individual’s intrinsic worth. You are
reviewing what they have done. This is particularly important when challenging performance that
is below expectations.
Adapted from Performance Management arrangements for the Senior Civil Service 2012/13. British Government. April 2012.
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Be generous. Be generous when reviewing what they have done. The goal is for performance to
improve and the management skill lies in helping people to do that. This is nearly always
accompanied by a style of leadership and management which is empowering – by being clear
about outputs and helping staff to learn and grow as they discover the best ways to deliver
them – rather than specific and detailed checking and intervention.
Handling Difficult Conversations
The following points can be helpful when conducting difficult conversations.
 What is your contribution to the problem, recognise shared responsibility? Consider your
emotional response to the situation and be aware of any unconscious bias, and if there is
anything you could do differently to help resolve the issue.
Prepare the points to cover and be clear about the outcome you wish to achieve. Arrange a
suitable time for the discussion and think about the location.
Be clear about why the conversation is necessary. Be specific and give examples.
Be mindful of your body language and tone of voice.
Use open questioning and ask the other person’s perspective, for example:
- How do you feel things have been going? / How do you see the job developing?
- How do you feel about that?
- Tell me, why do you think that happened?
- What do you think you could do differently next time?
Check your understanding and paraphrase:
- Have I got the right impression?
- Do you mean that...?.
Invite the other person to respond and do not interrupt them.
Ensure the other person knows you understand their views, feelings, position etc. Let them
know that you want to resolve the problem.
Be ready for reactions – these could be any number of emotions from upset to anger or the
individual may become quiet and withdrawn. It may be useful to take a break in the
conversation to give individuals time to calm down or reflect.
Keep it professional – don’t let the conversation become parent and child.
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Appendix 2: Tips on Giving and Receiving Feedback
Tips for giving performance feedback
Start with the positive - Most people need encouragement, to be told when they are doing
something well. When offering feedback, it can help the receiver to hear first what you like
about what they have done or accomplished.
Be specific - Avoid general or vague comments when providing feedback. Specific feedback is
more useful to enabling the receiver to develop skills.
Be descriptive - Tell the person what you saw or heard and the effect it had on you, rather than
making an evaluative comment such as a behaviour was ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
Own the feedback - It can be easy to say ‘you are...’ , suggesting that you are offering a
universally agreed opinion about that person. It is important that we take responsibility for the
feedback we offer and begin feedback with ’I’, “I’ve observed’ or ‘In my opinion’.
Offer alternatives - If you do offer negative feedback, explore with the person what they could
do differently in the future. Simply making critical comments will more likely invite resistance.
Recognising staff’s contribution – To encourage and reinforce desired performance and
behaviours, providing clear feedback is a key. Informal feedback and acknowledgement is highly
valued, leading employees to feel as though they are making a valuable and meaningful
Tips for receiving performance feedback
Listen to the feedback - Feedback can sometimes be uncomfortable to hear, however it can be
useful for improving our performance and relationships with people. Simply seek to understand
the other person’s perspective, rather than giving reasons, excuses or defending your behaviour.
Be clear about what is being said - Avoid jumping to conclusions, making judgements or
becoming immediately defensive. Instead, collect information, ask questions and work towards
shared meaning. Remember feedback is directed at the impact of your behaviour not on your
Ask for the feedback you want but do not get - Feedback can be so important that we may have
to ask for it if it does not occur naturally. Sometimes feedback is restricted to one aspect of our
behaviour and we may have to request feedback we would find useful.
Decide what you will do as a result of the feedback - Each of us needs to know how other people
experience us to extend our self-awareness, which is incomplete if merely based on our own
version of ourselves. When we receive feedback, we can assess its value, the consequences of
ignoring it or using it, and finally decide what we will do as a result of it.10
Adapted from Developing Clear Feedback, Fostering Executive Women Mentoring Program 2011 workbook.
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Appendix 3: Approaches to Professional Development
There are a variety of approaches to professional development, as illustrated in the diagram below11
‘Performance Planning and Management it’s up to us... Best Practice Guide’ (May 2007), Department of Education,
Training and the Arts, Queensland Government, Brisbane.)
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Appendix 4: Handling Dips in Performance
Many things, inside and out of the work environment, can affect an individual’s performance. A good
manager will identify poor performance and work with the individual to understand why it is happening
and what can be done to resolve it.
It is important to understand whether the issue is a one-off dip in performance (maybe at a particular
time or in a particular discipline) or an on-going performance problem where the individual is clearly not
operating at the required level. A one-off dip in performance may be caused by a particular event or
situation, such as bereavement, ill health, relationship problems and financial worries.
Whilst the manager cannot resolve these issues, support to bring performance back to an acceptable
level should be given. This may include helping the job holder access support services such as Employee
Assistance Programs or allowing time off/adjusting working patterns to assist the individual to resolve
the issue.
There are a variety of reasons for an on-going dip in performance; some are given below with
suggestions for addressing these.
Reason for on-going dips in performance
Suggestions for addressing these
Skills or knowledge gaps
Training, coaching or mentoring
Misunderstanding of performance expectations
between the employee and manager
Clarify expectations
Impact of management style
Consider how you communicate, set directions
and clarify expectations
Will or motivation of the employee
Explore career aspirations
Workplace relationships, including
Consider mediation
The longer that poor performance is allowed to linger, the greater the problem for the individuals and
organisation when it is finally tackled. The impact of on-going poor performance is high. Poor
do not deliver required business outcomes or value for money;
impair the standard, reputation and professionalism of the public service;
disrupt the flow of work and increase the workloads of their colleagues;
cause resentment and lower morale; and
set a bad example to those they manage.
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It is particularly important that managers tackle poor performance to demonstrate the expected
behaviours and to help promote a performance management culture. When dips in performance have
been identified, managers should talk to the employee as soon as possible. The aim is to explore the
reasons for a drop in performance and discuss with the person how best to restore performance to the
required level. If performance continues to remain below the required standard then managers must
move to formal poor performance procedures according to the agency policy.
Should further information on disciplinary processes be required, see the Commission Chief Executive
Guideline 01/13: Discipline on the PSC website.
This Guideline highlights that a disciplinary process is not a substitute for management action and the
need for managers to undertake early intervention to address unacceptable conduct. An early
conversation, even in the context of a likely disciplinary process, provides the best hope for:
the cessation of unacceptable conduct,
early resolution,
preserving working relationships, and
avoiding an unnecessary and disproportionately protracted dispute.
This Guideline also recognises that there will be occasions when it will be necessary and appropriate for
managers (or other delegate) to commence and complete a disciplinary process, and if circumstances
warrant it, the process may result in a decision to dismiss the employee.
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Attachment 5: Stretch Role/Assignment Risk Assessment Guide12
As a manager, your role is to meet business objectives, and to do that you need to maximize the performance and engagement of your team. To
accomplish both these objectives, you need to provide opportunities to your staff to acquire and develop new skills. This is important not just for staff,
but for the business to meet its future skills and leadership requirements.
A recent Corporate Leadership Council survey of leaders worldwide found that 75% of leaders are moderately or significantly concerned about
the skills development of their team, and 78% of identified successors are not ready now for their next role.
During periods of business uncertainty, line managers often become more conservative in selecting staff for roles and projects—what might have
seemed like a safe bet in good times, may seem like an unacceptable risk when critical business outcomes are at stake. This is a principled reaction;
however shutting down all opportunities for staff to develop via stretch roles and assignments is counterproductive to the business and staff
engagement, particularly for high potentials, whose commitment relies heavily on access to challenging roles and work.
To help you to determine what constitutes a safe bet versus an unacceptable risk, the Corporate Leadership Council has developed the following tool.
Use the tool below to determine the types of employee profiles that might be safe bets or unacceptable risks depending on different roles and
Type of Role/
Good For
Profiles With:
Development and revision
of strategy
Communication and
implementation of strategy
Business and industry
Visionary and
leadership skills
Corporate Leadership Council Human Capital Practice, 2009. Corporate Executive Board.
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More Risky
For Profiles With:
Weak communication
Inability to see the
big picture
Poor influencing and
Minimize Risk If:
Business area has suffered significant
revenue loss or threat from external
Business area has undergone
significant changes
Type of Role/
Good For
Profiles With:
More Risky
For Profiles With:
Product management
Market and customer
Development of budgets
and operational plans
Implementing efficiency
and cost-cutting initiatives
Quality control
Creating resourcing and
staffing plans to meet
strategic objectives
Process re-engineering
Stakeholder engagement
and management
Project plan creation and
Change management
Communication skills
Innovation skills
management skills
Project and process
management skills
Data analysis skills
Create and test new
Build business cases
Conduct market testing
Leadership and
communication skills
Project and process
management skills
Change management
Innovation skills
Technical product
Marketing skills
Business acumen
Voice of the customer
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Minimize Risk If:
people management
Business area requires deep technical
Poor project
management skills
and attention to
Innovators and “big
ideas” people
Business area has suffered significant
revenue loss
Business area has been poorly
managed from a financial and cost
Critical efficiency/quality/cost targets
must be met in the next 6-12 months
Poor project and
process management
Poor people skills
Lack of technical
product expertise
Lack of customer
experience and
Project is core to delivering on
strategic objectives
Project is core to meeting time-tomarket for specific products
Product is core to meeting strategic
Time-to-market for product is key for
competitive advantage
Significant threat from external
competitor exists
Deep technical expertise required
Type of Role/
Good For
Profiles With:
Lead large or remote teams
Provide coaching/feedback
Drive engagement and
Manage teams through
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Feedback and
coaching skills
Leadership and
communication skills
Change management
More Risky
For Profiles With:
Poor people
management skills or
lack of interest in
people management
Lack of sensitivity to
diverse background/
Minimize Risk If:
Business area/team has undergone or
anticipates significant change
(layoffs, leadership changes, etc.)
Team is underperforming