Performance Development Framework

To create a high-performance culture in NSW, it is essential to have effective systems for managing individual, team and organisational performance. The Performance Development Framework establishes the approach for managing employee performance and signals a drive to improve public sector culture to manage and develop workforce capability.

Research results

In November 2013, agency reporting showed significant variability in the implementation of the Performance Development Framework within each cluster and across the sector. On the whole, it showed the sector did not yet manage employee performance as effectively as it should.

The results indicated some evidence of setting expectations around employee roles, responsibilities and behavioural standards, as well as systems to provide employees with ongoing and regular opportunities to discuss work and receive formal and informal feedback on their performance. However, the results also showed significant gaps in critical practices including monitoring, planning, reviewing, recognising and developing performance.

Under the GSE Act, by July 2015 all agencies must have a performance management system that meets basic requirements set by the Public Service Commissioner.

Snapshot – Capability building

Department of Education and Communities

The Department of Education and Communities has identified the need for systematic workforce planning for our corporate workforce to better manage unplanned short-term business requirements and anticipate medium - to long-term needs.

A capability-based approach has been taken using a four-step process for auditing capabilities, analysing current and future business needs, identifying capability gaps and applying solutions. Senior employees have been trained internally and asked to report quarterly against each of the steps. Progress reporting to the Executive in the early stages helped to embed the process across the Department.

Business units report a deeper appreciation of the importance of understanding individual and team capabilities and strengthening core capabilities across the workforce. There is also a better understanding of role analysis, including the importance of filling critical roles with high-potential people to achieve business strategies.


The introduction of the Performance Development Framework made it a legal requirement for agency heads to meet the essential elements and there has been significant effort by agencies to do so.

The People Matter survey results from 2014 are more positive (see Figure 4). Overall, employee responses about performance management showed a modest improvement between the 2012 and 2014 surveys. Improvements were recorded against receiving a formal performance review (55%, up from 49% in 2012), assessing performance against clear criteria (65%, up from 61%), receiving informal feedback (70%, up from 66%), and receiving regular feedback (55%, up from 52%). Results were unchanged for improving performance via learning and development activities (69%).

NSW employees had a range of views about the usefulness of performance feedback. A third of respondents to the People Matter survey said the performance measurement criteria were unclear, while 41% did not believe the feedback was useful in enabling the delivery of required results.

Figure 4: Employee perceptions of performance management

Figure 4 is a horizontal bar graph showing sector responses to three statements on performance management. Results for two questions are reported in the text above figure 4, with additional results for 'I have a current performance plan that sets out my individual objectives' at 52%.

Figure 5: Employee perceptions of performance management

Figure 5 includes two  horizontal bar graphs showing the sectors  highest and lowest scores for performance management statements The highest is 73%  agreeing with 'I would feel comfortable telling my manager if I disagreed with their assessment of my performance; 69% agreeing with 'learning and development activities have helped to improve my performance and 65% agreeing with 'my performance is assessed against clear criteria'. The lowest is 49% agreeing with 'my manager has talked to me about what I could do to improve my performance; 50% agreeing with 'my manager appropriately deals with employees who perform poorly and 55% agreeing with 'I receive regular feedback on my performance'.

Only half of employees thought that managers dealt appropriately with poor performers. Furthermore, lower-paid employees were less likely to have received a performance review or a performance plan detailing their objectives, and they were more likely to reply negatively about questions relating to formal and informal reviews. Fewer respondents indicated they received useful performance feedback to deliver required results (59%, down from 61% in 2012).

Comparisons to the Australian Public Service and other states

NSW's performance management is comparable to some other states but still lags well behind that of the Australian Public Service (APS). For example, the proportion of NSW respondents who received a formal performance review in the past 12 months (55%) was similar to that in Queensland (52% in 2013) but well below that of the APS (more than 80% in 2013).

While good progress is being made in NSW, there is clearly more work to be done across the public sector. Further resources are being developed by PSC to support employees and their managers to optimise individual and team performance by developing the capabilities, experience and knowledge needed for their current roles and potential future roles.

The Public Service Commission acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the land on which our office stands.