A Prezi from the APSC on pushing public servants to high performance

By Stephen Easton

Wednesday July 27, 2016

The Australian Public Service Commission has published a fresh set of practical performance management tips to help managers build more effective working relationships with employees who report to them.

Moving to a modern “high performance” management framework has been a goal of APS leaders for many, many years, and it’s fair to say there’s a degree of cynicism around the idea.

The high performance doctrine is prescribed as the antidote to dysfunctional old-fashioned performance management, which is characterised by staff going through the motions of periodic formal performance reviews only because the rules say they must, and provides little value to either the manager or the managed.

Instead, what is needed are “regular, constructive and forward-looking conversations” between team leaders and team members, to borrow the language used in the new guidebook. The aim is to keep staff members and their supervisors on the same page about contributing to the team’s objectives.

A new addition to the commission’s library of online guidance materials aims to help managers get there, and comes in the form of an interactive digital blackboard covered with sticky notes, created using an app called Prezi.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly simple to navigate around the various tips on managing staff but the value of using the app to convey the information is not entirely apparent. One possible advantage is ease of sharing the digital product.

Where the APS needs to get to is quite clear. The latest comprehensive reference material on the subject came out of the APSC-commissioned research project Strengthening the Performance Framework, but the concept it explores is hardly new. Key members of the research team behind that project told The Mandarin that buy-in from senior leaders is critical to putting the ideas into practice.

The need for workplace practices that encourage all staff to be their best was picked up again by Sandra McPhee in her more recent review for the commission, Unlocking Potential.

The new digital reference guide above acknowledges that agencies can and should move towards high performance management their own individual ways. The official performance management directions haven’t changed since mid-2015.

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