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In addition to seeking out and attracting motivated and skilled employees to fulfill current requirements, you must also consider how you will help your organization live up to future ones. Effective strategic planning and talent management are essential, but those systems cannot stand on their own. The next step is determining how to cultivate a work environment that supports and sustains a culture of superior performance that drives success both now and in the future.
Building a performance culture goes far beyond an agency's performance management system. The performance management system provides a framework for setting objectives, documenting performance standards, and assessing employee results. A performance culture refers to the agency's holistic approach to performance (i.e., ongoing, timely feedback; emphasis on continuous learning; strong employee engagement; inclusion and appreciation of a diverse workforce; and accountability for results). Timely feedback and continuous learning provide a mechanism for ongoing improvement. A diverse workforce represents the public that the Federal Government serves and enhances innovation. Work-Life programs support the employee thereby enhancing productivity, engagement with the agency, and sense of well-being.
A system that engages, develops, and inspires a diverse, high-performing workforce by creating, implementing, and maintaining effective performance management strategies, practices, and activities that support mission objectives.
The standards for the Performance Culture System require an agency to have—
The Results-Oriented Performance Culture system focuses on having a diverse, results-oriented, high-performing workforce, as well as a performance management system that effectively plans, monitors, develops, rates, and rewards employee performance.
It is up to you to ensure that your staff understands what success looks like. To do so, you have to understand where you are now, where you need to be in the next year, and where you will be in the future. Your imperative is to have a clear vision and communicate the organizational goals and criteria for success. You will need to link your organization's goals with the agency goals, and cascade them throughout your organization.
Senior leaders can help build an agency's performance culture from the top down. Frequent communication and transparency around executive objectives and progress toward agency goals can serve as a foundation for a culture of open feedback. Leaders are also in a position to be role models for embracing continuous learning, work-life flexibility, and diversity initiatives.
Review Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey trends to enhance employee engagement and develop action plans that address identified opportunity areas.
Establish a framework, identify progressive solutions, and set the example by projecting and encouraging engagement at all levels of the organization.
Empower managers to own program performance by delegating decisions and actions to appropriate levels within the organization.
The following are a few examples of specific Performance Culture focus areas and the policy guidance that guides them:
In 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13522, "Creating Labor Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services". This EO is an excellent source of information for establishing labor management forums within agencies, which can in turn drive the improvement of the delivery of products and services to the public, as well as cut costs and advance employee interests.
Recent legislative actions direct the Federal Government as an employer to promote various aspects of a Work-life portfolio. For example, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act, are key legislative actions that include provisions for employer support of flexibility, well-being, health promotion and disease prevention. OPM's Government-wide and Performance Culture group maintains a number of resources to help senior leadership plan for a more robust Work-Life presence within agencies. Samples include:
Executive Order 13583 established a coordinated Diversity and Inclusion program in 2011. It also incorporates and supports existing policies, including the Equal Pay effort, and the Executive Orders on Asian American and Pacific Islanders, Hispanic Employment and Hiring People with Disabilities.
The following are some focus area-specific approaches to consider for implementation:
The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations was created by EO 13522 and regularly issues guidance and recommendations on labor/management relations and agency forums.
Experts in OPM's Government-wide Work-Life Performance Culture advocate following best practices for implementing or advancing any Work-Life program.
Coordinate outreach and recruiting efforts through the agency's Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
There are also a variety of resources available to assess the effectiveness of the efforts put into place to develop, improve and sustain a high performance culture within an organization. For example:
The National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations regularly disseminates guidance and recommendations for agency implementation and evaluation. The results of agency forums (and other labor/management initiatives) are tracked and compiled into regular reports.
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There are a variety of items available to help facilitate leadership in the completion of decisions and activities relating to Performance Culture.
The agency mission statement serves as the conduit for all activities within a given organization. All strategic plans, annual performance plans, human capital plans, and individual performance plans, to name a few, should all link directly back to the mission of the agency. Agency mission and vision statements are available on their respective websites.
An agency's Strategic Plan should provide the context for decisions about performance goals, priorities, and budget planning, and should provide the framework for the detail provided in agency annual plans and reports. An agency's strategic plan is available on its website.
Performance management is the systematic process by which an agency involves its employees, as individuals and members of a group, in improving organizational effectiveness in the accomplishment of agency mission and goals. Employee performance management includes:
Agencies have the authority to provide awards to employees in a variety of forms, including monetary awards, special act awards, performance awards, and granting time-off subject to the availability of funding.
The IDP helps identify employee's career development goals and the means for achieving them. Typically, the employee will complete an IDP on an annual basis and can include training (free or fee based), online learning (through an online learning management system), development opportunities and assignments, mentoring, reading and attending conferences and college courses.
The Operational view delineates the role of HR staff, hiring managers, and program managers in the agency's performance culture.
In order to build and sustain high performance at the operational level, you must understand the overarching strategy. Engage with senior leaders to discuss the relationship between the agency's mission and its employee engagement, performance management, and continuous learning. One vital aspect of a high performance culture is open, continuous feedback. Work toward embedding frequent and timely feedback into agency operations. You can start by increasing "lessons learned" discussions about projects and processes; holding informal performance-related discussions with your subordinates; and soliciting feedback from your peers and subordinates.
Do I have the resources and capacity to accomplish specific program and policy related goals and objectives?
Do I have appropriate tools and technology required for capturing, measuring, and reporting program and policy goals and objectives?
Do we have current procedures and practices required for achieving program and policy-related goals and objectives?
As an operational leader, here are some additional resources and approaches at your disposal:
Each agency should have an implementation plan that addresses how it will work with the representatives of its employees to develop agency or bargaining unit-specific metrics to monitor improvements in areas such as labor-management satisfaction, productivity gains and cost savings.
Coordinate with senior leadership to develop a flexible telework program that provides opportunities for all employees to participate.
Each agency should implement its own Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan. These plans are driven by the Government-wide plan with (3) overarching goals:
To see the specific connection to Performance Culture, consider these examples:
A key implementation goal to focus on is the creation and maintenance of a non-adversarial forum for managers, employees and union representatives to discuss operations that will promote satisfactory labor relations and improve the productivity and overall effectiveness of the Federal Government.
There are programs in place that can help you successfully develop and execute a Diversity and Inclusion process within your organization: Mentoring, D&I Council, Leadership Diversity and Accountability. More information and resources can be found on OPM's Diversity and Inclusion web page.
There are a variety of items available to help facilitate HR Practitioners and Program Supervisors in the completion of decisions and activities relating to Performance Culture.
An agency's Strategic Plan should provide the context for decisions about performance goals, priorities, and budget planning, and should provide the framework for the detail provided in agency annual plans and reports. An agency's strategic plan is available on their respective website.
From a human capital perspective, agencies utilize the results from the Federal Employee View Point Survey to generate actionable strategies and measures as a way to enhance and improve employee engagement.
In the Federal Government, employment policies are established through title 5 of the United States Code. The Office of Personnel Management provides employment policy guidance through title 5 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Each agency will develop specific policies that align with both the statute and code.
Provide the framework and articles outlining a constructive and cooperative working relationship between an agency and the labor organizations representing the employees.
Because the management of human resources is becoming a strategic function, line managers are increasingly held accountable for directly delivering some human resource services. As line managers assume more hands on responsibility for managing all aspects of the workforce, human capital practitioners' roles will also shift to increasingly complex roles such as business strategic partner, employee champion, and change agent.
Being part of a successful team is important and knowing where you fit into the team and that what you do every day is linked to the overall success of the organization. Your morale, your ability to be engaged, and to contribute, impacts the success of the organization.
Your commitment to meeting your own performance expectations, your ability to accomplish assigned tasks, and your level of interest and engagement all have a very real impact on the mission. Strategic and operational leadership are responsible for enabling you to be successful and for providing the support and resources you need to fulfill your job requirements. It is also up to you to hold yourself accountable and to seek out new challenges for yourself.
Are you working closely with your supervisor to understand the goals of the organization and where your job fits into their accomplishment? Have you discussed the specific link between your role/function and the broader agency mission?
What skills do you have that are especially beneficial to your organization? What skills would you like to develop that would further enable you to contribute to positive organizational outcomes? Are you currently in a role that maximizes your potential and allows room for further development? If not, what would you need to do to get there?
If there are barriers to your engagement at work, have you thought about how best to reduce those barriers and increase engagement for you and your colleagues?
Below are some examples of planning steps to be taken in order to successfully contribute to the development and sustainability of a High Performance Culture:
Your organization should have its own internal policies or memorandums of understanding to serve as a reference for employees.
Some good first steps to consider in taking advantage of your agency's Work/Life-related programs, including telework, Employee Assistance Program (EAP), worksite wellness, and childcare subsidy:
Your organization should have its own implementation plan for executing the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan developed by OPM.
Here are some additional ideas to consider:
Forums are established within your organization for the purpose of labor and management collaboration on workplace matters and shared responsibility for mission accomplishment.
Participate in available diversity and inclusion training.
If your agency has a mentoring program, consider participating as a mentor, mentee, or both.
There are a variety of items available to help Employees in the completion of decisions and activities relating to Performance Culture.
Describe the roles and responsibilities outlined in a job opening. Human resource officials and hiring managers should continually review their position descriptions for currency and relevance to ever-changing mission requirements. In addition, managers can proactively plan for vacancies and potential shifts in the composition of their workforce during this process.
Performance elements and standards should be measurable, understandable, verifiable, equitable, and achievable. Through critical elements, employees are held accountable as individuals for work assignments or responsibilities.