Executive capabilities

The capability of NSW Government senior executives was assessed in 2014 by evaluating all 20 of the capabilities in the NSW Public Sector Capability Framework at the advanced level. Nine assessment activities were undertaken by 296 executives in Band 2 and the lower half of Band 3. Results were compared to the 2012–13 program, in which senior executives were assessed against 15 capabilities.

These results (see Table 5) form a valuable evidence base that assists agencies and PSC to understand and act on executive capability strengths and gaps at agency and sector-wide levels. They can also help individual executives identify their personal drivers, strengths and areas for development.

The 2014 program revealed that NSW public sector executives consistently demonstrate capability at the required level with the majority of executives rated as competent and above in all the capabilities (see Table 5).

The highest rated capabilities are Optimise Business Outcomes, Communicate Effectively, and Inspire Direction and Purpose. The lowest mean scores are for Manage Reform and Change, Technology, and Think and Solve Problems. Finance has a slightly higher mean score but the proportion of executives rated competent and above is at the second lowest level, along with Technology. The most significant decrease since the previous program is in Manage Reform and Change.

The areas for development can all have a significant impact on the work of the public sector. A number of programs are in place to assist in building capability. They focus on innovation, leadership essentials, values and ethical behaviour, and delivering business results (which covers finance, technology, optimising business outcomes, procurement and contract management). Programs targeting individual capability are also available, and forums provide executives with opportunities to discuss topical issues and develop a shared sense of stewardship across the sector.

Table 5: Executive capability – 2014 assessment results

Table 5 shows the overall capability as a mean and the proportion of competent and above (% rated 5-9) across all capabilities. The overall capability for Optimise Business Outcomes is 5.77 with 90.9% competent and above; The overall capability for Communicate Effectively is 5.77 with 89.5% competent and above; the overall capability for Inspire Direction and Purpose is 5.74 with 88.5% competent and above; the overall capability for Commit to Customer Service is 5.71 with 93.2% competent and above; the overall capability for Influence and Negotiate is 5.69 with 88.5% competent and above; the overall capability for Plan and Prioritise is 5.68 with 91.9% competent and above; the overall capability for Project Management is 5.66 with 91.2% competent and above; the overall capability for Display Resilience and Courage is 5.64 with 89.5% competent and above; the overall capability for Manage and Develop People is 5.62 with 80.4% competent and above; the overall capability for Work Collaboratively is 5.30 with 81.4% competent and above; the overall capability for Finance is 5.22 with 75.7% competent and above; the overall capability for Procurement and Contract Management is 5.18 with 78.7% competent and above; the overall capability for Think and Solve Problems is 5.04 with 76.7% competent and above; the overall capability for Technology is 5.03 with 75.7% competent and above; the overall capability for Manage Reform and Change is 4.64 with 58.4% competent and above.

The results for an additional five capabilities measured by 360-degree feedback were very positive, with all executives rated as competent and above in Act with Integrity, Manage Self, Deliver Results, Demonstrate Accountability and Value Diversity.

Differences among senior managers

The average capability scores of women (91 participants or 31%) were higher than those for men in all but three capabilities. However, only Finance was found to have a statistically significant difference. For the capabilities where women outperformed men, 11 of the 17 results were statistically significant. Given the under-representation of women at senior manager levels, these results show it is important to the performance of the sector to eliminate barriers affecting the career progression of women and to utilise the significant capabilities of the women already in senior roles.

Few significant differences in capability scores were evident between age groups or salary bands. There was also little variation in capability scores by service cluster, suggesting there is a strong foundation for deployment of senior managers where they are most needed, and that there are no significant capability gaps limiting the benefits of mobility.

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