In carrying out the Trump administration’s directive to “maximize employee performance,” OPM has said, agencies are to make the performance rating process more than a “routine and rote implementation of procedures a few times a year.”

A recent memo to agencies says that “successful performance management is dependent on continuous employee engagement between employees and supervisors throughout the performance appraisal period . . . our research shows employees feel most empowered and enabled to succeed when supervisors involve them in continuous dialogue throughout the annual performance management cycle.”

The goal, it said, is to create clear, shared understanding of expectations and goals; align position responsibilities and agency mission; identify areas of strength or needs for improvement; support employee development; and clearly communicate how an annual rating is derived.

It said this should include: “brief but regular and meaningful communications to discuss priorities and needs; valid, regular, and timely data to provide feedback on performance progress, including varied perspectives from multiple stakeholders; coaching and development to help employees succeed and flourish; and support for professional and personal success and wellness.”

The OPM memo and accompanying guidance on the ratings process address just one of the topics in the April OMB memo telling agencies to draw up plans for “maximizing employee performance.” Agencies also are to make sure their policies do not “create unnecessary barriers for addressing poor performance,” and ensure that managers are trained on managing performance, are held accountable for taking disciplinary action when warranted, and receive support from HR, labor-relations and other central offices if they do take such actions.