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The incoming fax from your department headquarters contains the text of the newly approved performance appraisal system. After all these months, the ball is finally in your court. What do you do now? Think of the performance appraisal program as the operating document that tells employees in your organization who is appraised, how they are to be appraised, who is to appraise them, and when they are to be appraised.
Whereas previous regulations were so detailed that these decisions were largely made for you by OPM, you now have flexibility in the way you meet the regulatory requirements for designing a program so that it will fit your organization, its mission, and culture. To be effective, program design needs the active involvement of managers, supervisors, and employees and their representatives. Many organizations assemble design teams in which personnel specialists may be participants or advisors.
The amount of freedom you have at the subcomponent level to design your program is defined by the agency system. Some systems allow for the broadest possible range of options available. Others have set definite parameters under which your program can operate. Additional constraints on program design may also be determined at the agency level through discussion with national partnership councils.
Ensure that as you develop your program, you have a clear understanding of the decisions you can make.
Many decisions have to be made in order to have an operational performance appraisal program that meets the regulatory requirements. Three key components distinguish one program from another: the employees covered by the program, the length of the appraisal period, and the specific summary level pattern.
However, a program is more than the sum of these three decisions. Using the documents that define your operating parameters for reference, such as the agency system description, the following points should be addressed:
Each of these decisions can be complicated and may be revisited several times as your design team progresses. Program development is challenging work. Don't hesitate to ask for advice and assistance from personnel specialists at your agency. You may also call our staff in the Performance Management and Incentive Awards Division for additional guidance on program design.