The new directions aim to lift the bar and focus on nurturing
talent, in addition to managing underperformance. One way in which
it is hoped this will be achieved is though improving the skills
and authority of supervisors. While previous directions in this
area focused on the obligations of agency heads, the new directions
provide a minimum set of obligations that agency heads,
supervisors, and employees need to fulfil. The directions are
designed to provide clarity for supervisors about what is expected
Guidance by courts and tribunals
Since the implementation of the new performance management
directions we are yet to see any clear indication of what, if any,
impact the new directions will have on the way courts and tribunals
deal with matters involving performance management.
Commentary by the APS Commissioner
APS Commissioner, John Lloyd, has spoken out recently on a
number of occasions regarding performance management in the public
service, including at the Australian Human Resources
Institute's HR in the Public Sector Symposium in Melbourne on
August 25 2015, where he was the keynote speaker. Notably, Mr Lloyd
listed improving performance management capability as one of the
three focus areas where HR can add the most value to the APS.
Mr Lloyd emphasised the importance of employees receiving honest
and constructive performance feedback. He also highlighted the
current differences between the private sector and the APS, in
terms of performance management. Traditionally, the private sector
has shown a far more "cut-throat" approach of managing
out underperformers, with a greater emphasis on the accountability
of senior management for not addressing underperformance issues. Mr
Lloyd then why people and how they perform should be any less
important in the public sector, as public resources are as
important as those allocated by shareholders.
Mr Lloyd also stressed that the primary focus should be on
enabling high performance, and ensuring that systems and processes
within the APS do not restrict performance, as well as assisting
managers to be able to deal with issues concerning
What is clear from these comments is that change is occurring in
the APS. In addition to those instigated by the new performance
management directions, Mr Lloyd is working to implement cultural
change within the APS in order to achieve a more performance-driven
workforce. All levels of the APS, including agency heads,
supervisors, and employees, will need to get on board and
participate in the cultural change happening in the APS, or risk
being left behind.
What can I do as an agency head?
As an agency head, it is important that you set an appropriate
framework within which employees can strive to become high
performers and supervisors have the tools and skillsets to be able
to manage performance within their teams. This includes:
establishing and maintaining effective policies and procedures
for performance management;
encouraging and facilitating a culture that supports high
performers, and assists and manages underperformers to improve
their performance; and
equipping supervisors with the tools and skillsets to be able
to manage performance.
What can I do as a supervisor?
Look for ways to support and encourage high performers.
Regularly review the performance of your team so that you are
able to identify underperformance issues early.
Ensure that underperformance issues are managed in a
constructive and supportive manner.
Seek guidance and assistance when required.
What can I do as an employee?
Look for ways to improve your own performance and become a high
Seek guidance and constructive feedback from your supervisors
Actively engage in performance management processes, and listen
to feedback provided on performance.
Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide
commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon
as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular
transactions or on matters of interest arising from this bulletin.
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