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  • Workforce Reshaping

Sustaining High Performance

How to Use Employee Development and Performance Management to Maximize Employee Engagement and Accountability

Aligning the Workforce to the Mission

Organizational changes and workflow efficiencies may lead to the redesign of jobs, which means that some Federal employees will perform different duties than they have in the past.  Consequently, they may require new position descriptions to describe these new functions, new individual development plans to outline training and new performance plans, including standards to set the bar for successful performance in their new role. 

Job analysis can assist supervisors in making effective adjustments to training and performance plans by systematically gathering, documenting and analyzing information about a job. The information gathered through job analysis needs to be combined with knowledge of the agency mission and organizational goals to effectively apply it to the crafting of performance elements and standards. These elements and standards assist supervisors in communicating to employees what their specific responsibilities are, and how they will contribute to the success of the organization, as well as the metrics and measures that will be used to gauge their individual success.

Research has shown that performance feedback and employee development are both important drivers of employee engagement, which means they are key to achieving an engaged workforce.  For more information about employee engagement, UnlockTalent.gov is a comprehensive data visualization dashboard created to help government leaders make data driven decisions and design initiatives to improve employee engagement. The dashboard provides agency employees with visibility and insight into agency employee engagement and satisfaction.

Training and Employee Development

Providing employees with training and developmental opportunities encourages good performance, strengthens job-related skills and competencies improving individual and organizational performance, and helps employees keep up with changes in the workplace, such as the introduction of new technology.  Individual development plans help to align employee training and development efforts with the agency’s mission, goals, and objectives, and also provide a way to identify and track development needs.

Using a training needs assessment, supervisors can identify the gaps between the competencies employees have and those they need to do their work effectively.  From there, the supervisor and employee should work together to identify training and development opportunities such as formal classroom training, web-based training, rotational assignments, shadowing assignments, on-the-job training, self-study programs, and professional conferences/seminars.  Mentoring and coaching can also help employees to continue to develop the skills they will need to be successful in their careers. 

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Performance Management

Employee performance is assessed through the performance management cycle which consists of:

  • Planning work and setting expectations
  • Continually monitoring performance
  • Developing the capacity to perform
  • Rating periodically to summarize performance
  • Rewarding good performance

Throughout the performance management cycle, supervisors and employees should engage in open dialogue to have a clear understanding of the goals of the organization, what needs to be done, and how well it should be done. Performance plans are a tool for an agency to use that focuses employee efforts on achieving organizational and work unit goals. Performance elements define what needs to be done, and performance standards define the performance threshold(s), requirement(s), or expectation(s) that must be met to be appraised at a particular level of performance. Performance elements should be aligned to the agency strategic goals and performance objectives. To be most effective, performance standards should hold employees accountable for performance in a way that is measurable, understandable, and challenging while achievable.

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Employee Accountability

The best way for managers and supervisors to handle performance and conduct issues is to take action to avoid performance problems or conduct issues before they occur through pro-active performance management practices including: 

  • Communicating clear performance standards and expectations to employees
  • Providing regular and consistent feedback on performance
  • Rewarding and recognizing good performance, informally and formally
  • Making full use of the probationary period for employees
  • Setting the desired example by the manager’s or supervisor’s own conduct
  • Maintaining a good work atmosphere
  • Assuring that employees conform to any applicable standards of conduct

If an employee’s job performance becomes unacceptable or misconduct occurs, supervisors should promptly address this matter with the employee and work with the Employee Relations staff to create a plan to resolve unacceptable performance or address misconduct.

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