The Importance of Performance Management and Workforce Planning

This is the fifth blog post in a series of blog posts and podcasts talking through the recent GovLoop Guide to Workforce Planning. Be sure to take a listen to the podcase below and view the guide. You can find more HR resources by visiting the GovLoop Guide to Workforce Planning Homepage.

Stephen Beard of Oracle sat down with GovLoop to talk through how performance management impacts workforce planning. As Stephen identifies in the interview below, performance management is a critical component to workforce planning. Stephen shared his expert insights with the GovLoop team.

Why is performance management so important to workforce planning?

Performance Management is critical to Workforce Planning. It is not only the process that allows managers and employees to communicate expectations and outcomes, but more importantly, it yields essential data points HR leaders need to determine; such as, how well organizational talent is aligned to organizational goals and objectives, and where deficiencies exist. Without those data points, HR leaders will be less able to predict outcomes and take proactive and corrective action through other talent-related processes like recruiting, training and development.

Do you have an example of an agency that has a well-run performance management initiative? What makes this agency unique?

There is a great State government story that I would like to share. Here is what makes them unique, they aligned HR resources to organizational strategy and they determined practical ways they could support the Governor’s vision of becoming the best-run State. They were also willing to do the work and invest the time. The State evaluated 3500 jobs and reduced them to 750, defining key competencies that were aligned to organizational strategy, and then assigning those competencies to each job, and defining, implementing and rolling out a new performance management system – none of this was easy and each step required a significant investment in time and resources. Finally, they didn’t quit until they accomplished what they started.

How will a performance management initiative impact an agency’s ability to improve decision-making and increase performance of the agency?

First, through a performance management initiative, an agency can reassess and clarify both vision and purpose. They can determine the competency-model that best lends itself to contributing to overall organizational strategy. It provides the chance to realign what may have become a broken process to the ideal model. Like the State government example I cited above, they can audit existing information and eliminate redundancies and clarify outcomes. Second, through a performance management initiative, an agency can streamline processes by automating service delivery. The State took a manual, paper-based processed and automated it through self-service and workflow, making it more efficient for employee and manager alike. Finally, through a performance management initiative, an agency can identify expected outcomes and measure the results. More importantly, they can report those results to organizational leadership.

What are some lessons learned for agencies while thinking about developing a performance management initiative?

Besides using the right tool, there are three lessons. First keep it singular. In the State example cited earlier, the Workforce Plan was singular – becoming the best-run State. Everything else hinged on that one vision. Second, keep it simple. Too many times, we try to over-complicate the plan. We try to measure too many things. We incorporate too many moving parts. The State kept it simple. Every competency (and they were limited in number) was selected based on whether or not it was essential to achieving the Governors vision – becoming the best-run State. Third, keep it seamless. What I mean by “seamless” is that all parts need to be integrated and contribute to the whole. Without an integrated Talent Management suite, it is virtually impossible to manage to a Workforce Plan.

Where should an agency start if they want to develop or improve their current performance management initiative?

I would suggest you start by determining where you want to go and why. Answer questions like, “What do we want to measure?” “Why should we measure it?” “How should we measure it?” “How will we determine success?”

What are common challenges or roadblocks agencies may be able to expect?

Steve cited three challenges agencies might expect. First, a performance management plan will take longer than you think. Designing and rolling out a proficient performance management system is a significant effort and agencies need to invest the time to establish clear goals and milestones and stay on task. Second, no one will agree and the importance to establish clear objectives and establish rules of engagement. Finally, change is hard and to expect resistance. This can be limited through well-administered communication and training

What role can technology play for government agencies looking to implement a performance management plan?

Technology provides tools like integrated Talent Management suites, HR Analytics, and a variety of service delivery access models (think Mobile Device accessible). Also, more and more Talent Management suites are incorporating collaborative and social networking features that can be leveraged in performance management systems and help shape performance management policies and practices.

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