Building talent on top: the APS priority for promotional taps

A new benchmarking system for assessing SES aptitude and performance is coming. Building a sustainable pool to fill critical roles takes a lot of “honest conversations”.

The Commonwealth’s new public service commissioner John Lloyd comes with a fierce reputation on industrial relations, but he is inheriting a body of work that digs deep into improving talent and performance management in the APS. It prioritises building employees up, rather than slash and burn under-performers.

Confident in the success of its talent management approach to the best-of-the-best at SES 1 rank, the Australian Public Service Commission’s plans in 2015 pursue a common approach to talent management strategy with the Secretaries Board, with implications for the entire SES. It has also prioritised work developing leadership of Executive Level 2 employees.

In his final address last week, outgoing commissioner Stephen Sedgwick talked up progress and adoption of that latest body of work — particularly the APSC talent development program for SES employees identified as having good potential to take on more senior roles.

Sedgwick stressed that building capability and a “performance culture” across an agency starts by building it at the top with talented leaders. The commissioner has taken aim at perceptions by some in the public service that performance management is a euphemism for removing under-performing employees. As much attention needs to be paid to those with greater potential. He told senior APS leaders last week:

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  • Leanne Ansell-McBride

    I was interested to read your article “Building talent on top: the APS priority for promotional taps”. We have worked very closely with the APSC in the establishment of their Strategic Centre, and their approach to talent – sharing the lessons we have learned in the five years since we were established by the Victorian Government Secretaries. We share all of our tools and approaches with our colleagues around Australian (and in New Zealand) – and they in turn share their resources. We simply ask that our work is acknowledged where it has been used by others. We were delighted to read that the APSC’s talent questionnaire had been adopted so widely across the APS as the source of the behaviours in the questionnaire is the VLDC. Please feel free to download a copy from our website