In the performance management arena, one size does not fit all—each system must reflect an organization’s unique structure, priorities, and constraints.
For example, we developed a performance management system for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) in response to a truly unique set of challenges. A class-action lawsuit triggered a redesign of the human capital programs associated with the criminal investigator occupation, including their performance management process. The resulting system needed to provide input that could be used to make personnel decisions, such as promotions, and provide a means to offer constructive and actionable feedback to employees.
ATF also did not want supervisors to be overly burdened with a time-consuming process. The new system allows strengths and developmental needs to be identified, clarifies whether an employee’s performance meets expectations, and is flexible and easy to use. We met these goals through an innovative “hybrid” system, which keeps the developmental and operational components of the system as independent as possible:
- Developmental ratings are seen only by the employee and his/her supervisor, which reduces the tendency for supervisors to inflate ratings.
- A separate operational component is used for administrative purposes.
- Detailed behaviorally-based rating scales, tailored to more than 25 unique criminal investigator positions, provide a rich source of feedback for employees with minimal supervisory effort.
Clearly, a formulaic approach to performance management would not meet ATF’s specific needs. Similarly, we were asked to offer our personal touch to a unique situation faced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which was charged with increasing collaboration and integration across the
intelligence community following 9/11.
We developed a 360-degree feedback program for ODNI that provided over 1,000 intelligence community (IC) leaders with rich feedback focused on cross-agency coalition-building and collective leadership. This program served as a vital component of a larger performance management effort to transform the culture of the post-9/11 IC.
Given our reputation for objectivity and technical rigor, other clients reach out to us to conduct evaluations of existing performance management systems, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). As a result of our work, the FDIC implemented several system improvements, including a process we developed to collect multi-source supervisor and manager ratings that integrates 360-degree feedback, job performance data, organizational climate survey results, and customer service reports.