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What a Difference Effective Performance Management Makes

What a Difference Effective Performance Management Makes!

The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of the Department of Agriculture has verified something we knew all along. Effective performance management has a positive effect on an organization's bottom line!

The Mission of FNS

FNS administers nutrition assistance programs for the Department of Agriculture. The mission of FNS is to provide children and needy families better access to food and a more healthful diet through its food assistance programs and comprehensive nutrition education efforts. FNS works in partnership with the States in all its programs. States determine most administrative details regarding distribution of food benefits and eligibility of participants, and FNS provides funding to cover most of the States' administrative costs.

Performance Management Processes at FNS

The Southeast Regional Office of FNS has a performance management program that closely aligns its performance management processes with its organizational goals.

  • Planning. The Region has developed a structured method of establishing its mission and vision statements and its strategic goals. The Region cascades those goals to each supervisor's performance plan by using the organization's general balanced measures of Leading Change, Leading People, and Business Acumen. The Region clarifies those general measures with specific objectives in tailored Leadership Action Plans with related Win-Win Agreements. These plans and agreements are based on a supervisor's specific role in the accomplishment of the organization's goals.
  • Monitoring. A major aspect of the program is its strong emphasis on communication. To keep the lines of communication as open as possible, supervisors and employees review their plans on an ongoing basis to ensure that all activities continue to align with the Region's strategic plan. Other communication support includes a variety of internal web sites and an employee newsletter. The newsletter includes information on the goals that have been met and progress toward other goals that have not yet been achieved.
  • Developing. The Region emphasizes individual employee development. Each employee must have an individual development plan. Employees also participate in a variety of developmental opportunities, such as the FNS University's "Nutrition for the Mind" program.
  • Rating. FNS uses a three-level rating system-fails to meet, meets, or exceeds. All performance plans include general expectations for each element, while the Win-Win Leadership Agreements spell out specific results required for each rating level.
  • Rewarding. FNS uses a variety of cash and non-monetary awards to reinforce its desired results. It has unique internal peer and spirit awards, certificates of merit, spot awards, and time-off awards. As part of its quarterly newsletter, the Region lists the names of award recipients for the quarter and includes information about the recipient and his or her contribution.

The Results—So Far

The end result of incorporating effective performance management into its day to day operation has been an increased understanding of the role employees play in individual programs and in Regional performance. Additionally, under these initiatives, the Southeast Regional Office has saved more that $44,200,000 and has made progress towards accomplishing its strategic goals.

The Southeast Regional Office was a recipient of the 2000 OPM Director's PILLAR Award (Performance, Incentives, and Leadership Linked to Achieve Results). OPM created the PILLAR Award to recognize and publicize exemplary employee performance management programs processes, and practices that support alignment of employee performance with organizational strategic goals as well as results oriented and customer focused performance.

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