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Is performance management up to date?

Modernization of performance management is essential to meet the needs of the federal workforce of the future.

Overview


As both the nature of work and the workforce evolve, changes are required to ensure performance management effectively supports the federal workforce of the future—especially as attracting new talent remains a top challenge for federal agencies.

The Accenture Strategy report, Is Performance Management Performing?, shows that while more than half of federal leaders have made changes to their performance management practices in the past five years, further change is needed. For their part, 85 percent of federal employees believe changes to performance management will bring about significant improvement in workforce performance. In short, today’s approaches are lagging behind. “There’s a growing need to try out new approaches rather than relying on out-of-date, rear-view mirror judgments. At its best, performance management is about the future, not the past—helping employees and agencies to better deliver on their missions.”

"There’s a growing need to try out new approaches rather than relying on out-of-date, rear-view mirror judgments. At its best, performance management is about the future, not the past—helping employees and agencies to better deliver on their missions."

Key Findings

The survey revealed three key findings:

The business of federal government is going digital, but performance management is still analog

Digital technologies are changing the nature of both work and the workforce, and that’s changing what performance management needs to do. Eighty-five percent of federal respondents in the survey report that work is changing: It’s faster, more networked and collaborative, and demands ever-evolving skills. To keep pace, innovation in performance management is needed.

Customers are unique—so are your employees

In business, personalized service is fast becoming the standard, with companies improving the customer experience to drive sales and retention. This shift is also occurring in government services driving the same orientation toward uniqueness to be a part of performance management to improve attraction, development, engagement and retention of top talent.

You say “performance management,” your employees say “professional development”

Federal employees have new expectations for their work, framed around opportunity and active participation. They expect federal employers to provide development opportunities, as well as ongoing conversations and coaching.

Analysis

The research demonstrates that performance management needs to perform better. Practices are behind the times with present-day workplace demands, especially in the federal sector.

One striking finding revealed that only 61 percent of federal agencies have made changes to their performance management practices in the past few years.


In contrast, 79 percent of non-federal employers have moderately or significantly changed their practices during the same time.
Some of this difference may be due to the fact that federal work and the workforce might be changing at a slower pace than the private sector (85 percent and 92 percent and 87 percent and 91 percent, respectively), but as the nation’s largest employer, federal agencies must pick up the pace of change.

Fifty-five percent of federal leaders believe most organizations assess performance in ways that are ineffective.

And 59 percent of federal employees feel performance management is lagging due to a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
In comparison, only 46 percent of non-federal respondents across all industries expressed the same sentiment as organizations move away from standardized approaches to personalized practices.
Although there are signs of change, federal agencies need to move faster to revitalize their performance management practices.

Some of the ways are by:

  • Focusing conversations around strengths

  • Being fact-based and employee-centric

  • Fostering employee development

Recommendations

Some of the ways to revitalize performance management in federal government include:
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Helping leaders provide constructive conversations and real-time coaching.

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Embracing simplicity and transparency.

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Personalizing performance management across the workforce.

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Moving people decisions closer to the people.

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Clearly defining what high performance means in the context of the federal workforce of the future.

Contacts

Jeanne Ward
Managing Director, Accenture Federal Services

Britaini Carroll
Senior Manager, Accenture Federal Services

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