As part of its overall plan for reforming the government and reducing the federal workforce OMB has told agencies to produce by June 30, “a plan to maximize employee performance” that includes more recognition of good performance and clearing out perceived barriers to dealing with poor performance.

The April 11 memo says: “It is important that managers recognize high performers, help employees identify and address areas in need of improvement, and move quickly to address employees who are not meeting performance expectations.”

That’s not easy to do, partly because it’s a burden on some managers and supervisors who’d rather avoid confrontation by awarding acceptable ratings or higher across the board to avoid confrontation and get back to their “real” work. Employees have also said that step increases or rewards – in whatever form they take – are often given of the basis of popularity rather than performance.

OMB director Mick Mulvaney said in a press briefing that the President “wants to reward people who do a good job … would you like working in an organization where you do a really nice job and you don’t get rewarded for it? You don’t even get acknowledged for that? What kind of morale would that create within that particular organization.”

However, neither the document, nor Mulvaney, specified exactly what form employee recognition would take, whether monetary or otherwise.

The memo meanwhile calls on agencies to “determine whether their current policies and practices are barriers to hiring and retaining the workforce necessary to execute their missions as well appropriately managing and, if necessary, removing poor performers.”

“Agencies should also ensure that performance expectations are appropriately rigorous, aligned to the work that needs to be done and the grade of the employee, and effectively communicated. Regular, ongoing performance feedback should be provided,” it says.

The memo also calls on agencies to make sure their managers are given the tools and support they need to manage performance and get good results.