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Performance Management Reference Materials

Competencies That Support Effective Performance Management

First in a series of articles on performance management competencies

Supervisors must manage employee performance well in order for agencies to accomplish their missions and achieve their goals. Consequently, performance management is one the most important parts of a supervisor's or team leader's job. Developing skills in performance management is a wise investment for agencies—an investment that will help them achieve their strategic goals.

Performance Management Processes and Related Competencies.

Managing employee performance includes:

  • planning work and setting expectations,
  • monitoring and measuring performance,
  • developing the capacity to perform,
  • periodically rating performance in a summary fash-ion, and
  • recognizing and rewarding good performance.

Practicing good performance management requires proficiency in certain competencies. Competencies are observable, measurable patterns of skills, knowledge, abilities, behaviors, and other characteristics that an individual needs to perform work roles or occupational functions successfully. Performance management competencies that all supervisors (and team leaders) should develop and demonstrate include:

  • Communicating
    Establishing and maintaining effective communications with each employee not only requires good oral and written communication skills, but it also includes the ability to establish good working relationships. To communicate effectively with employees, supervisors must establish an environment that promotes an open door atmosphere, the sharing of ideas, and employee involvement in decision making processes.
  • Setting Goals
    Setting long- and short-term goals with employees gives focus to employee efforts. When goal setting is done correctly, employees strive to accomplish those goals and feel confident in achieving them. When goal setting is done poorly, work does not progress as desired. Knowing how to set goals effectively is an important part of performance management. To do this well, supervisors need to be able to clarify expectations and to set realistic standards and targets.
  • Measuring Employee Performance
    Credible measures of performance that employees understand and accept are critical for achieving high level performance. Measuring employee accomplishments, using both qualitative and quantitative measures, provides the information that supervisors and employees need in order to monitor performance.
  • Giving Feedback
    Feedback should inform, enlighten, and suggest improvements to employees regarding their performance. Supervisors should describe specific work related behavior or results they have observed as close to the event as possible.
  • Coaching and Developing
    Using their coaching skills, supervisors evaluate and address the developmental needs of their employees and help them select diverse experiences to gain necessary skills. Supervisors and employees create development plans that might include training, new assignments, job enrichment, self-study, or work details.
  • Recognizing
    Effectively recognizing employees is another performance management competency. Being able to genuinely acknowledge a job well done is critical for strengthening employees' commitment to do their best. Supervisors should be skilled at using formal awards programs as well as using informal recognition techniques, including personal thank yous and voicing verbal appreciation in staff meetings.

Developing Competencies

Agencies will benefit in many ways if they invest in developing performance management competencies in their supervisors and team leaders. These competencies should form the basis for their training and development to ensure that the Federal Government can carry out its mission in the 21st century. (You will note that most of these competencies are reflected in OPM's Executive Core Qualifications for the Senior Executive Service.) Because good supervision and leadership require effective performance management, we will focus this series of articles on the performance management competencies we have outlined here. The next article in this series will highlight communication skills.

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