MSPB Identifies ‘Building Blocks’ of Good Employee Performance

Giving work units adequate resources, training supervisors in performance management, and having accurate measurements of employees’ performance are key “building blocks” to the ability of federal supervisors to prevent or cure poor or weak performance by their subordinates, MSPB has said.

MSPB created an “agency performance management environment” (APME) index from responses by supervisors to nine questions on its recent merit principles survey relating to those three factors. “The data show that whether a supervisor is attempting to improve a poor performer, remove a poor performer, or assist a weak performer who has not outright failed in a critical element, a strong APME is helpful,” it said.

It said that supervisors in settings where those factors get a high score “reported being in a much better position to: (1) identify the causes for the poor performance; (2) identify how to bring about an improvement in performance; and (3) actually bring about the desired change in performance.”

For example, it said only 21 percent of supervisors in an environment with a low score were confident they would be able to remove an employee who was deficient in a critical performance element after completion of a performance improvement plan, compared with 47 percent of those who reported a strong APME.

“This would seem to indicate that when supervisors are given the necessary resources and training, and the supervisors accurately measure employee performance in the elements that are truly critical, supervisors are more likely to feel able to act to separate poor performers … Supervisors who reported a strong APME were also less likely to have employees who failed in a critical element in the first place,” a report said.

Similarly, supervisors in an environment with a high score were more likely to say they can ensure that successful employees receive recognition for good work, 87 versus 59 percent.