I got the chance to review the new performance appraisal system for the Senior Executive Service that was issued to agencies by OPM and OMB earlier today.
The new system represents some notable steps forward, including:
1) A renewed alignment: Typically, the criteria senior executives are evaluated on changes once they’re on the job versus the criteria used to hire them. No more. Now the appraisal criteria for on the job performance is essentially the same as the criteria used to evaluate prospective candidates. More on that in a minute.
2) Greater uniformity: There are dozens of different appraisal systems used by agencies. The problem is that the performance appraisal at one agency doesn’t always fit the interests of another agency looking to recruit an executive. Now agencies will be broadly bound (over a phase in period) to evaluating execs using a more uniform approach.
3) Broad support: OPM (at the behest of the President’s Management Council) did a better than average job getting senior leaders from nearly 30 agencies and others to the table to hash out a common standard.
But what’s probably more important for the rest of us is this: The five critical components used to evaluate senior executives’ performance makes a pretty good check list of what all of us should keep in mind when it comes to paying attention to the bigger picture of what really matters on the job.
What are the five most important areas? Here they are (with descriptions courtesy of the OPM framework):
1. Leading Change
Develops and implements an organizational vision that integrates key organizational and program goals, priorities, values, and other factors. Assesses and adjusts to changing situations, implementing innovative solutions to make organizational improvements, ranging from incremental improvements to major shifts in direction or approach, as appropriate. Balances change and continuity; continually strives to improve service and program performance; creates a work environment that encourages creative thinking, collaboration, and transparency; and maintains program focus, even under adversity.
2. Leading People
Designs and implements strategies that maximize employee potential, connect the organization horizontally and vertically, and foster high ethical standards in meeting the organization’s vision, mission, and goals. Provides an inclusive workplace that fosters the development of others to their full potential; allows for full participation by all employees; facilitates collaboration, cooperation, and teamwork, and supports constructive resolution of conflicts. Ensures employee performance plans are aligned with the organization’s mission and goals, that employees receive constructive feedback, and that employees are realistically appraised against clearly defined and communicated performance standards. Holds employees accountable for appropriate levels of performance and conduct. Seeks and considers employee input. Recruits, retains, and develops the talent needed to achieve a high quality, diverse workforce that reflects the nation, with the skills needed to accomplish organizational performance objectives while supporting workforce diversity, workplace inclusion, and equal employment policies and programs.
3. Business Acumen
Assesses, analyzes, acquires, and administers human, financial, material, and information resources in a manner that instills public trust and accomplishes the organization’s mission. Uses technology to enhance processes and decision making. Executes the operating budget; prepares budget requests with justifications; and manages resources.
4. Building Coalitions
Solicits and considers feedback from internal and external stakeholders or customers. Coordinates with appropriate parties to maximize input from the widest range of appropriate stakeholders to facilitate an open exchange of opinion from diverse groups and strengthen internal and external support. Explains, advocates, and expresses facts and ideas in a convincing manner and negotiates with individuals and groups internally and externally, as appropriate. Develops a professional network with other organizations and identifies the internal and external politics that affect the work of the organization.
5. Results Driven
This critical element includes specific performance results expected from the executive during the appraisal period, focusing on measurable outcomes from the strategic plan or other measurable outputs and outcomes clearly aligned to organizational goals and objectives. The Results-Driven critical element must also identify clear, transparent alignment to relevant agency or organizational goals/objectives, page numbers, from the Strategic Plan, Congressional Budget Justification/Annual Performance Plan, or other organizational planning document in the designated section for each performance result specified.
Now the truth is, we can’t ignore our day to day duties. But we also have a duty to think beyond the day to day, and consider how to accomplish bigger dreams. And it starts with being effective in areas that drive the most value for ourselves, our families, our employers, our communities and our nation.
While this list isn’t the be-all or end-all, it nevertheless gives us a reminder, if not a road map, on what takes to be an effective leader wherever we work.