THE CLIENT’S PERSPECTIVE

GSA’s performance management system was not driving the organization-wide culture and behaviors it wanted. The system lacked standardization and transparency, which introduced too much subjectivity into the performance review and remediation processes. For example, without real, measurable goals, commitments, and competencies, two people performing the same job may have been rated against much different criteria. Moreover, limited opportunities for development or recognition for high performers had eroded morale and left both employees and managers alike frustrated with the system as a whole.

Impressed with our recent success with its workforce transformation effort, GSA felt confident entrusting Eagle Hill to revamp the agency’s culture of managing performance.

A NEW VIEW

We immediately recognized that while the program was, in name, a performance management transformation, it also included critical change management and communications components as well. For GSA to succeed, those employees and supervisors most impacted would need to be involved.

Every aspect of our strategy and every one of our recommendations were driven by carefully listening to our GSA stakeholders, as well as by our deep understanding of best practices. The Eagle Hill team began by conducting numerous focus groups and interviews to get GSA employees’ perspectives on the current state of performance management. From there, we developed a comprehensive assessment to understand the key performance challenges and gaps GSA was currently facing. This gave us what we needed to develop an ideal “future state” of performance management.

Working closely with GSA’s Office of Human Resources Management (OHRM), Eagle Hill developed the overall performance management strategy and phased implementation plan, including 18 proposed recommendations aimed at preventing the adverse outcomes GSA had been experiencing. For example, we recommended decoupling individual performance awards from the annual performance appraisal in order to encourage real-time, results-based awards throughout the performance year that would motivate employees to continue demonstrating GSA’s desired behaviors.

We also initiated a competency model framework to identify the core, professional, and technical competencies required of all employees to further assist supervisors with performance planning and ensure that employees were demonstrating the required skills and behaviors to achieve GSA’s mission, goals, and priorities.

In addition, we developed an entire suite of job aids and guidance documents to assist supervisors and employees with their end-of-year appraisals. Topics included “How to Write an Effective Self-Assessment” and “How to Have a Performance Management Discussion with Employees.” One notable tool we helped create was the Performance Management Learning Portal on GSA’s online university (OLU), which provided a centralized location for job aids and a broad curriculum of mandatory supervisory training selected or developed by GSA for performance management.

UNCONVENTIONAL CONSULTING—AND BREAKTHROUGH RESULTS

With Eagle Hill’s help, GSA developed a path to break away from its past performance management issues. The performance management framework the Eagle Hill team developed promotes standardization and clarity in defining expectations and provides a critical centralized repository of vital performance management, appraisal, and planning tools that GSA can use to develop a new culture of excellence in managing performance.