Trust, Service

& Accountability

Performance Development Framework

Performance development in the NSW government sector

One of the objects of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 is to develop a modern high performing government sector. Critical to achieving this outcome is building a high performance culture in the NSW government, where individual objectives and capabilities are aligned with the delivery of organisational outcomes.

Good performance development is about managing all aspects of employees’ performance consistently, equitably and transparently. A key part of this process is open and honest communication between employees and people managers to clarify requirements and capabilities of the role, establish measurable objectives, and ensure constructive ongoing feedback is provided.

This second edition of the Performance Development Framework was developed in close consultation with the sector and features revised core requirements and associated essential elements. The framework continues to define the baseline principles for effective agency performance development, capturing both organisational systems and effective people practices with a strong focus on outcomes.

The framework is a key tool to support ongoing efforts to engage and develop employees and strengthen performance across the sector.

About the Performance Development Framework

Figure 1 - Core requirements of NSW government sector performance management

Figure 1. Core requirements of NSW government sector performance management

The NSW government sector legislation requires all government sector agencies to have a performance management system in place for their employees that meets a set of core requirements and the essential elements set by the Public Service Commissioner.

The Performance Development Framework sets out benchmark expectations for performance management in the sector.

The framework contains 7 core requirements with 19 corresponding essential elements which collectively:

  • define baseline principles for agency performance management and development
  • are applicable across different workforce types
  • capture both organisational systems and effective people practices

The essential elements describe behaviours and organisational approaches necessary for achieving outcomes. They articulate expectations of employees, people managers and the organisation, recognising there is shared responsibility for driving high performance.

Core requirements and essential elements of the NSW Public Sector Performance Development Framework

Core requirements Essential elements

Set and clarify expectations for employees
Collaborative process to establish expectations and clarify performance objectives that align with the organisation’s direction.

  • Mechanisms are in place to build employee awareness of, and adherence to, sector values and standards of ethical behaviour.
  • People managers work with employees to clarify performance objectives, discuss the requirements and capabilities of the role, identify any concerns meeting objectives and establish how performance will be measured.
  • Measurable performance objectives and expectations are appropriately recorded to promote accountability.
  • Employee objectives are aligned with the organisation’s direction and support the delivery of business outcomes.
  • Employees and people managers work together to establish shared expectations on the frequency and ways in which feedback will be provided.

Guide and review employee performance
Regular practice of people managers and employees providing and receiving meaningful feedback to guide performance, review progress and align performance objectives.

  • People managers regularly engage employees in open, honest conversations and provide constructive, ongoing performance feedback.
  • People managers invite suggestions and feedback from team members and work to create an inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are valued.
  • Employees and people managers jointly review performance objectives and adjustments are made as required to maintain alignment with organisational needs and priorities.
  • Overall assessment of performance is made against objectives and capabilities by people managers and scheduled reviews with employees are held during the review period.

Develop employee capability
Recurring initiatives to engage employees in working proactively with people managers to identify and plan for their own capability development.

  • Employees work collaboratively with people managers to identify development goals and targeted capability development options for both current and future roles.
  • Employees are encouraged to work proactively with people managers to plan for their own development, assess progress and maximise opportunities to develop capability strengths and close gaps.

Recognise employee achievements
Organisational practices to encourage appropriate ways of recognising the achievements of employees and teams.

  • The organisation has support mechanisms in place for people managers to select appropriate ways of recognising team and employee achievements.
  • Employees are encouraged to celebrate team efforts and give recognition to the achievement of others.

Improve employee performance
Actions to identify and support the emerging performance improvement needs of employees.

  • If there are instances where employee performance is below the standard required for the role, people managers and employees proactively identify and discuss the issue/s, share targeted feedback and re-examine expectations.
  • Employees procatively share issues that may impact their performance and are provided with support to address the issues and participate in actions towards improving performance.

Resolve unsatisfactory employee performance
Efforts to determine and address unsatisfactory performance.

  • People managers and the organisation work promptly with the employee to determine and resolve patterns of unsatisfactory performance.

Evaluate and strengthen practices
Organisational mechanisms in place to support, monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of performance systems and practices.

  • The organisation has approaches in place to measure the effectiveness and impact of its people managers, identify trends and inform ongoing investment to support effective performance practices.
  • The organisation has established methods to enable use of performance information as an input for other workforce management processes.
  • Organisational expectations of performance outcomes are clearly communicated, monitored and evaluated to support ongoing achievement and improvement.

Who this framework applies to

The framework sets the approach for developing all aspects of performance for the NSW government sector. It supports:

  • agencies in implementing a performance management system with respect to their employees as required under legislation
  • managers and employees in understanding their roles in effective performance development

The framework defines baseline principles for effective performance management and describes efforts, behaviours and approaches for achieving outcomes. Specific performance management processes are not prescribed in the framework to enhance its applicability across different workforces and diverse role types in the NSW government sector.

Performance management systems apply to employees of government sector agencies. They do 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 instrument1

The practical application of the framework to casual and temporary staff will vary depending on the role and length of employment. Agencies may choose to vary application of the essential elements to casual and temporary employees to ensure performance of all employees supports the delivery of business outcomes.

1 These instruments will take precedence over the framework. However, we will work towards the alignment of the framework with these instruments over time.

Using frameworks for performance development

The core requirements and corresponding essential elements within the Performance Development Framework establish a consistent reference point for agencies to:

  • establish the outcome - focused expectations of people managers and employees in performance development
  • build a shared understanding of principles for effective performance management and development
  • review organisational ‘current state’ against these baseline expectations and isolate areas for development
  • prioritise improvement areas for investment to build more effective systems and practices and measure outcomes.

Effective performance practices should be based on demonstrated capabilities against the requirements of the role. The NSW Public Sector Capability Framework describes the capabilities and associated behaviours expected of all NSW government sector employees, both executive and non-executive. The capabilities allow people managers and employees to have a clear, shared understanding of role expectations and provide a starting point for constructive feedback and development discussions. People management capability is critical to effective performance management. The Capability Framework describes the capabilities required of all employees who manage people and includes behaviours focused on developing capability and potential in others.

Aligning individual and organisational performance

Collectively the essential elements articulate organisational approaches and behavioural characteristics that support individual performance management and development to deliver organisational and sector results.

Clear alignment of organisational strategy and actionable employee performance goals is critical for overall organisational performance. Alignment of goals also supports employees in understanding how their work contributes to broader business outcomes.

Figure 2: How individual objectives feed into state-wide strategies

Figure 2: How individual objectives feed into state-wide strategies

Performance development – a shared accountability

Open, constructive conversations between employees and their managers are key to effective performance. Employees and people managers at all levels have a responsibility to work collaboratively to:

  • clarify expectations relevant to the role and organisation
  • align objectives with the organisation’s direction to support the delivery of business outcomes
  • regularly discuss performance and provide meaningful and constructive feedback to one another
  • identify capability strengths and areas for development
  • review objectives to maintain alignment with organisational priorities

At the organisational level, the framework sets out requirements to evaluate and strengthen practices and systems. This includes measuring the effectiveness of people managers, utlilising performance information as an input for broader talent management practices, and evaluating outcomes.

Measuring whether performance management systems and practices are delivering the desired impact will support informed investment for ongoing performance development.