U.S. Department of Commerce - Office of the Secretary U.S. Department of commerce seal


   
 
HR Practitioners banner

Home > HR Practitioners > Performance Management & Awards

Performance Management Handbook (Appraisal Section) Chapter 5

Printable View

Chapter 5. Performance Management Process Introduction

The performance management process is used to communicate organizational strategic goals, reinforce individual employee accountability for meeting those goals, and track and evaluate individual and organizational performance results.

The performance management process involves:

  • Performance planning;
  • Monitoring employee performance;
  • Employee development;
  • Evaluating employee performance; and
  • Recognition

Note: At any point in the process, appropriate action should be taken to address performance deficiencies.

Performance Planning

Approximately four weeks before the start of the appraisal period, rating officials (supervisors) and employees should begin developing written performance plans for the next appraisal period. The process should involve both the supervisor and employee. Performance plans must be recorded on CD-430, Performance Management Record. Performance plans must be completed and signed by the rating official, approving official, and employee within 60 days of the beginning of the appraisal period.

Expectations of employee performance are established through the critical elements and standards contained in employee performance plans. Critical elements tell employees what they have to do and standards tell them how well they have to do it. Developing elements and standards that are understandable, measurable, attainable, and fair is vital to the effectiveness of the performance management process.

Critical Elements

A critical element is a work assignment, responsibility, or result to be achieved that is of such importance that unacceptable performance in that element would result in a determination that the employee's overall performance is Level 1 (Title 5 USC 4301(3)). The Department requires that each employee have at least three and no more than five critical elements in his or her performance plan. Noncritical elements are not permitted.

Critical elements must:

  • Be aligned with organizational goals and objectives;
  • Be the cornerstone of individual accountability in employee performance management;
  • Be a major component of work;
  • Describe work assignments and responsibilities that are within the employee's control to accomplish; and
  • Be weighted at no less than 15 percent.

Critical elements may not:

  • Describe a group's performance. However, it may be possible to hold a supervisor or manager individually accountable for his or her work unit's products or services by including a critical element and standard in his or her plan to assess the group's performance. This could only occur when the supervisor or manager has individual management control over the group's production and resources.

Weighting of Critical Elements

All critical elements within an employee’s performance plan must be weighted in order to indicate the relative importance of each critical element within the employee’s scope of responsibilities. These weights should not be assigned based on the percentage of time an employee spends working on that element. Rather, the weight for each element should reflect the significance of that task/program/project within the framework of the Department’s or bureau’s organizational goals. The total weight for all critical elements must equal 100 percent with no element weighted less than 15 percent.

Example:

Critical Element

Description of Critical Element

Weight

1

Organizational Effectiveness

35 %

2

Customer Service

20 %

3

Professional Effectiveness

30 %

4

Special Projects

15 %

TOTAL

 

100 %

Mandatory Critical Elements

Departmental policy requires that the following mandatory critical elements be included:

    • Leadership/ManagementAll performance plans for managers/supervisors must include this critical element.

    • Customer Service All employee performance plans must include this critical element.

NOTE: Both the Leadership/Management and Customer Service critical elements are standardized and must be used as written. Revisions or additions to these elements are prohibited.

Departmental policy also requires that employees with a property management responsibility must include one of the following mandatory stand-alone critical elements, as appropriate:

    • Property Management Officer

    • Property Accountability Officer

    • Property Custodian

NOTE: All property management critical elements are standardized and must be used as written. Revisions or additions to these elements are prohibited.

A manager’s/supervisor’s failure to meet the performance appraisal deadlines and responsibilities specified in this Handbook will be reflected in his or her own progress review(s) and final appraisal.

Difference Between Group/Team and Individual Employee Performance

In many organizations, employees (as part of a group or team) work together toward the achievement of organizational goals and objectives. The key to distinguishing between group performance and an individual's contribution to the group is that group performance is measured at an aggregate level, not for a single employee. An employee's contribution to the group is measured at the individual level.

Group/team performance, on a whole, cannot be used as a critical element. This does not preclude describing an individual's contribution to the group as a critical element.

Performance Standards

A performance standard is a statement of the expectations or requirements established by management for a critical element at each particular rating level. Performance standards should be attainable, objective, measurable, realistic, and clearly stated in writing. The Department requires the use of Generic Performance Standards. (See Appendix A)

Supplemental Performance Standards

A supplemental performance standard is used to define performance in terms of results (e.g. what is to be accomplished) and the process (e.g. how it is to be accomplished). Supplemental standards are expressed in terms of quality, quantity, timeliness, cost-effectiveness, or other relevant measures. The Department requires the use of supplemental performance standards for all performance plans.

Handling Performance Plan Disputes

If a rating official and employee disagree on the contents of the performance plan, the rating official and employee should attempt to resolve the disagreement informally. However, the approving official must make the final decision regarding the contents of the plan. If the employee refuses to sign the plan, the rating official should annotate the plan to indicate that it was discussed with the employee, the employee received a copy, and the employee refused to sign.The employee's refusal to sign does not preclude the plan's implementation or the employee's obligation to perform under it.

The contents of the performance plan may not be grieved.




A - Z HR Policy Library for HR Practitioners