Trust, Service

& Accountability

Guide for Human Resources

NSW Public Sector Performance Development Framework

According to legislation#, all public sector agencies must have a performance management system that meets essential elements and guidelines set by the Public Service Commissioner.

The NSW Public Sector Performance Development Framework contains these guidelines and sets the approach for managing all aspects of employee performance in the NSW public sector.

NSW Public Sector Performance Development Framework

Figure 1: Components of the Performance Development Framework

As depicted in Figure 1, the Framework consists of six components. Each component has essential elements that define the mandatory benchmarks for agency performance management systems. These are set out in the  Components of the Framework section.

The Framework’s components are not designed to be applied sequentially. It is important to understand the purpose of each component and apply them appropriately, whether individually or in combination, to manage the situation at hand.

Managing for performance

‘Managing for performance’ describes management practices and activities to improve performance and align individual and team efforts with the organisation’s objectives. ‘Performance’ in the context of this Framework comprises not only what you do in your role, but also how you go about doing it – their behaviour.

Research has shown that employees work best when they have clear goals and understand what is expected of them and their work; receive fair and regular feedback about how they are performing; are recognised for a job well done; and get constructive advice about areas of unsatisfactory performance and how they may improve#.

NSW Public Sector Performance Performance Development Framework Outcomes

Figure 2: Individual objectives feed into state-wide strategies

An organisation’s performance is the result of the combined efforts of the individuals within it. Figure 2 illustrates how every employee plays an important role in achieving divisional, departmental and state-wide objectives.

While everyone in the workplace plays a part in an organisation’s performance, as an HR manager you play a critical role in aligning employee capabilities and efforts with organisational outcomes.

This involves ensuring that employees clearly understand what they need to achieve; what capabilities they need to be successful in their role; any processes and procedures they are expected to follow; and the standards and behaviour expected of them. It is also about working with employees to identify their capabilities and leverage their strengths, and providing development opportunities to close any gaps between their capabilities and what is expected of them.

Good performance development is about managing all aspects of employee performance consistently, equitably and transparently. It is an ongoing process involving regular discussions with employees about continuously improving performance. These discussions are an opportunity for managers to set and manage expectations; acknowledge good performance through positive feedback; provide constructive feedback to realign expectations and performance; help employees develop key capabilities; and, if necessary, address unsatisfactory performance.

According to research by the Corporate Leadership Council, an employee’s understanding of expectations and standards – and how they relate to their work and the organisation – is the biggest driver of employee and organisational performance. When employees understand this, their performance can improve by as much as 36%#.

A large majority of employees want to, and do, perform well. Unsatisfactory performance is only an issue for less than 5 or 10% of employees#.

Applying the Framework

Agencies, through their HR teams, provide performance management systems and processes that:

  • strategically align with corporate plans and strategies
  • improve engagement between managers and their employees to optimise performance
  • integrate with other workforce strategies, such as capability development, talent management, leadership and management development, and succession planning
  • provide a consistent approach to managing for performance but are flexible enough to reflect the needs of a diverse workforce.

The goal is for performance management across the NSW public sector to continuously improve over time and become best practice. The PSC will review the Framework regularly to support ongoing improvements in performance management across the sector and to ensure it is aligned with further workforce management reforms.

Responsibilities for performance

Directors-General and agency heads are legally required to develop and implement performance management systems for their staff. The Public Service Commissioner is legally required to issue guidelines on the essential elements of performance management systems in agencies. Directors-General are required to ensure that all agencies within their department meet, or have plans in place to actively work towards, the essential elements described in the Framework.

In addition to their people management accountabilities, executives are responsible for linking performance management systems with organisational planning, systems and processes. They are also responsible for engaging and developing the workforce at their organisation to achieve outcomes.

Managers are responsible for:

  • setting clear performance objectives
  • building capability to ensure continual development and success
  • monitoring performance
  • providing regular and ongoing feedback to develop and maintain performance
  • openly receiving feedback from their manager or senior executive and their employees, to drive their own development
  • having structured conversations with employees about their performance, development needs and career aspirations
  • honestly and openly addressing underperformance.

Performance agreements for all executives who have financial accountability must include mandatory performance objectives set out in Appendix A. These objectives are part of a range of measures approved by Government to significantly improve financial management in the NSW public sector.

Performance agreements for all employees who have responsibility for managing people must include mandatory performance objectives set out in Appendix B. These objectives, focused on people and capability management, are one of a number of public sector reform initiatives aimed at improving workforce management across the sector.

Employees are responsible for:

  • developing their own performance to meet expectations and achieve their objectives
  • actively contributing in all aspects of performance management
  • having open and honest conversations with managers and colleagues
  • providing feedback to managers
  • openly receiving feedback
  • proactively driving their own development with the support of their manager.

HR teams’ responsibilities include:

  • establishing and maintaining performance management systems within their agencies
  • ensuring alignment with the Framework’s essential elements
  • regularly analysing gaps between existing systems and the Framework
  • developing improvement plans to address any gaps
  • reporting to the Public Service Commissioner on implementing the Framework
  • supporting their agency’s employees as they apply the systems and tools available to them.

Who does the framework apply to?

The Framework applies to all employees in the NSW public sector. Agencies may vary its application to casual and temporary employees who are employed for less than three months#.

However, it does not apply to:

  • state-owned corporations
  • employees of labour hire agencies
  • non-government employees, such as employees of organisations contracted to provide services to or on behalf of a government agency
  • employees in specialist classifications who are also covered by performance management provisions enshrined in an award, agreement, piece of legislation or some other instrument#.

The next part of this guide sets out the objectives of the components and their essential elements.