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CHCOC-PIC Event: Cultivating a High-Performance Culture

CHCOC-PIC Event: Cultivating a High-Performance Culture

Aisha Kendall: Good afternoon, and welcome
to what we expect will be the first of many CHCO Council and Performance Improvement Council
events. My name is Aisha Kendall. I am a President’s
Management Council Fellow with the Performance Improvement Council. My home agency is OPM.
Here at OPM, I manage government-wide employee performance management. Today’s topic, as you know, is “Cultivating
a Culture of High Performance.” It’s a very timely topic. It supports several government-wide
initiatives and priorities. I’m glad you all were able to join us today. Today’s conversation will center around the
critical relationship between human capital and organizational performance. It will also
examine the importance of the CHCO-PIO relationship, not only at the CXO level, but all the way
down to the staff level. We’re also going to talk about that today. We’re very fortunate to have CHCO and PIO
representatives from both Department of Labor and NASA. Again, this event is intended to
be a conversation around how to cultivate a culture of high performance and, again,
to also strengthen relationships between CHCO staff and PIO staff. Just a quick few housekeeping notes before
we get started with the panel. We are recording the first half of today’s event. We’ll post
the recording onto both the CHCO Council and PIC websites and social media platforms so
that folks in the field will be able to see what happened today. You also may have noticed, as you came in,
a TV with a video running. Those are excerpts of career close-ups that feature organizational
performance staff from across government. They’re actually talking about a lot of the
issues we’re discussing today, collaboration, partnership, the alignment of individual and
organizational performance. During the break and even after today’s event,
feel free to check it out. If you want to see more of those career close-ups, just go
to the PIC’s website. We’ll go ahead and get started with the panel.
We have two moderators. We have the CHCO Executive Director, Justin Johnson, and we also have
the PIC Executive Director, Kevin Donahue. Justin and Kevin. Justin Johnson: Welcome, everybody. I guess
I should welcome you since we are at OPM. I wanted to introduce myself, I guess, as
the newest guy to this role. I started with OPM back in ’09, but I’ve taken on the role
of CHCO Council Executive Director as of this year. I just got to conduct my third CHCO
Council Meeting yesterday. What I find in our community is I would say
the CHCO community is representative of the Federal community. There is so many priorities,
so much pressure, and I have to sort it out and make it work. The beauty of the CHCO Council is that we
can come together on a regular basis, and learn from each other, “What are you doing?”
and sort out the approaches, and learn the best practices. Make sure we don’t get too
far out from one another, but we also stretch each other forward. I’m happy to be here today, and with Kevin. Kevin Donahue: Hi folks. Kevin Donahue, I’m
the Director at the Performance Improvement Council. The Performance Improvement Council,
our mission is to help agencies advance and expand the practice of performance management
and performance improvement in the Federal Government. That means the folks who come to the Council
are responsible for developing like their strategic plan for their agency, making sure
it gets implemented in a framework that ties together different components. A large part of that for a number of agencies,
where either a part or need for that is connecting what’s in these organizational documents to
the needs and motivations and incentives of employees, who are planning out their work. I’m thrilled to be on this panel, and be able
to listen to some of these stories from agencies who have done this and thought a lot about
it. Justin: We’re going to go ahead and introduce
our panel, and give you a sense of who they are and how they got here. Kim Sasajima is the Director of Human Resources
Policy and Accountability at Labor. Kim provides oversight for the departments HR policy, strategic
HR, and workforce planning efforts, and HR accountability. Kim provides advisory support for department
restructuring, workforce transition efforts, all those pleasant things. Kim also works closely with the department’s
Budget Center, Performance Management Center, and agency leaders on workforce efforts and
needs. Prior to joining Labor in January of 2012,
Kim was in leadership roles at GSA, HHS, Homeland Security, and IRS. Kevin is going to introduce Holly. I found
it interesting that Holly started at labor in February in 2012, so you came in together. Holly Donnelly: From the same place. Kim Sasajima: From the same place. Kevin: It’s a small world. So with that, Holly
did in fact start her career as an Economist at the IRS, also worked for the General Services
Administration, but now is really here in a role at the Labor Department as the Director
of Performance Management and the Deputy Performance Improvement Officer for that Department. A
lot of the discussion that you hear today about trying to develop frameworks that tie
together individuals and teams is a lot of what keeps Holly up at night and keeps her
motivated throughout the day. Justin: Also with us today is Sherri McGee.
Sherri is the deputy assistant administrator for human capital and the deputy CHICO at
NASA. Sherri began this role in August of 2012. A lot happened in 2012. In addition to supporting the work of NASA’s
CHICO, Sherri provides executive leadership in the development, implementation, and oversight
of NASA’s Office of Human Capital Management and programs, policies, and standards that
support NASA’s entire workforce. Sherri started her career at NASA in 1986,
enjoying positions of increasing responsibility — and we love that responsibility — increasing
responsibility in NASA’s Education Program and the Office of Human Capital Management.
Before joining NASA, she held positions of leadership in higher education. Kevin: The fourth member of the panel here
is Andrew Hunter. Andrew comes to us from NASA. He is the deputy CFO, responsible for
the agency budgets, strategy, and performance, has also worked at a number of different places
in the federal government, including the Department of Treasury, USAID, GAO, and as a Peace Corps
volunteer. Before we started talking, I said that when
PIOs come to me and ask if there’s models that they can look at, I often direct people
to both NASA and Labor as different approaches to the same challenges around trying to manage
a highly technical, complex organization. I think, with that, what we’re going to ask
folks, we want this to be interactive, and it’s helpful to spur that by allowing some
context to be set around what within the agencies is their approach to this. Now, it’s nice that we have two people from
NASA here, but I actually want to start down with Kim and, I guess, ask you to do something
that you could probably spend an hour talking about, but in a few minutes, maybe, try to
convey context and approach that will give folks in the audience a chance to really understand
what your approach is and what your successes and challenges have been. Kim: One of our questions. [laughs] You know what? I think I’m going to answer
it in a little different way. We’re right in the middle of proving a bunch of compensation
plans at GSA — do we start all over? At Labor. We got approval to pay our FY ’13 bonuses.
All we’ve been doing for the last several weeks is providing guidance and getting plans
in on different recognition for our employees, over 16,000 employees. While I was preparing for this, one of the
questions I was working on was, what are you doing now? What is Labor doing now? What are
you doing now in the performance-management arena? I started writing things down, and I really
got tired, but I wanted to tell you what they were, because I think they all have a relation
to what we’re doing today. The first thing is that we’re creating a new
diversity and inclusion plan. Last time, when we worked with the Performance Management
Center, with Holly, we worked together in providing agencies with guidance on setting
targets and milestones for each of their diversity and inclusion efforts. We met with all of
them. We talked about what their progress has been to date and, during those meetings,
understood where they were and what their challenges were. All those meetings are going to serve as the
basis for our development of our strategic human-capital plan — which is in good timing,
since the strategic plan is just issued today, right? Holly: Yesterday. Kim: Yesterday. I wanted to talk to you about what we’re doing
with our policies. We have a revised departmental regulation
on performance management. That is now available for pre-decisional input from all three of
our unions. The AFGE, NULI, and…What’s the other one? NCFLL. Sorry. We have also received feedback from our union
leaders on how they think we should improve our employee viewpoint survey. Some of the
feedback directly relates to performance management policy and our practices, so we’re working
on that. We’ve established a new SES program where
we’re providing them with briefings covering some program areas with departmental program
leaders. And we’re also assigning them with projects. One of the projects deals with poor performers.
Another project deals with getting DOL scores better. We’ve got that in. We also are developing
a “Train the Trainer” for poor performers. Probably a part of that is going to be interpersonal
skills training for our employees and how they deal with a poor performer in the workplace. We have established communities of practice
throughout Department of Labor and all the different human resource curricula. We have
one specific for performance management and recognition that’s been very active. It meets
every month. At the end of this month, we will have completed
our PAAT, our performance appraisal assessment tool for the whole department, which means
that we will have conducted a survey of our performance plans throughout the different
agencies, and at all grade levels, and manager, non-manager. We are pursuing weighting. We’ve made probably
changes almost every year to our performance management process and our appraisal process.
This year, we’re going to pursue weighting of our results, which will be the first time
for non-managers and non-SES to have that kind of flexibility. The last thing I’ll mention is Holly and I
worked together in 2012 to create this crosswalk between operating plan goals and priorities
and executive performance plans. We actually mapped them out on one piece of
paper and provided that for the performance review board so they could see which executives
played what roles with what operational goals. This year, we’re taking it down to the GS-15s.
We’re going to do a study of those 15 to see if we can figure out more ways to use this
tool to leverage our resources and make sure that our resources are reacting to our priorities. Kevin: Great. Holly, maybe you could also
give a few minutes synopsis of the approach at labor, coming from the context of the performance
shop there. Holly: Sure. Kevin, at the heart of Department
of Labor’s performance management system is what we call our “operating plans.” We had a hard time. I know a lot of departments
struggle with getting buy-in for the strategic plan and getting people to pay attention.
Getting leaders to think about the long-term goals and objectives, and how we’re going
to get there. It’s really management 101. If you want everybody
to pull together, all you employees, and all your stakeholders, and all your congressional
folks have to know what your goals are, and they have to know how you’re going to assure
them that you’re going to get there. It’s just so hard to make people take their
eye off the short-term fires and pay attention to that long-term stuff. What we did was we
translated our strategic plan for each of the 17 — we call our bureaus “agencies.”
Our subcomponents, we call them agencies. For each of our 17 agencies we have yearly
what’s called an “operating plan” where we lay out measures with targets and milestones
with due-dates. That tells everybody, from the deputy secretary,
who’s our chief operating officer, down to the employees, what the agency’s big picture
items are for the year. What are they trying to accomplish in that year? That was all very well and good. Some agencies
took to it like a duck to water. Some of them have already been doing something like that. What we found was, when we started talking
about individual performance, and really putting those measures and milestones that all the
employees knew were important for organizational performance. When we started putting those into the SES
performance plans, and checking that they were in there, and encouraging agency leadership
to pay attention to the same things to assess performance both on the organizational level
and on the individual level, that’s when we really started to get traction and get people
to pay attention. I’m really grateful for Kim, and her staff,
and Sydney, our HR person, because they’ve been so open to working with us. It’s created
a huge amount of work for them, but it’s been great. It’s been incredibly rewarding, too. Justin: We’ll repeat the exercise with Sherri
and Andrew. We’re now in reverse order I guess. Sherri,
just give us a sense of the human capital approach at NASA. Sherri McGee: I presume that most of you know
NASA has gone through a fairly significant transition over the past couple of years when
we retired the space shuttle. That was more than just ending a particular program. It
was really tapping into the culture, the heart of the agency. I don’t know that we fully realized how significant
that would be when we ended that program. Then we had the immediate follow-on program
canceled. That’s, I think, forced all of us to sort
of step back and think about, “Wow, what are we doing?” “We’ve got all these really bright
people.” “What’s this workforce all about?” They’re all so focused on really performing
the mission. One of the things that we have spent a considerable
amount of time on, perhaps over a few glasses of wine, was connecting with the CFO and their
office, and the performance improvement officer. That has helped to build our relationships
so that we’re all working towards the same goal. A lot of that is really connecting our
folks to the mission and to each other. NASA has 10 Field Centers that are geographically
dispersed. I have HR offices in each of those Field Centers, and they are operating offices.
They do a great job of working with their workforce and for keeping folks on the same
path of making sure that they perform the mission. Our office is working at a slightly different
level which is to make sure that we are all doing things and keeping things in mind that
we connect our folks to the mission. That we reward folks for innovative performance,
and that we build model supervisors, because without building those supervisors you really
can’t get at good performance development for individuals, and, also, holding people
accountable for their own performance. All of that gets connected to the agency performance.
All of our performance plans, both at the SCS and the GS level, flow down from the agencies
performance obligations, and we go from there. That’s where I’ll stop at the moment. Justin: Andrew. Andrew Hunter: Hi everybody. I told my PIO,
who reports to me, the other day that she has an easy job, because we already live in
a culture of performance at NASA. You don’t have performance. You can’t get mission success
and go to Mars, and redirect an asteroid, or launch a rocket without a cultural of performance
and safety behind you. The nature of the way we do work is intrinsic
to performance. So, monthly program reviews at the project level, at the program level,
at headquarters, and at the centers occur on a regular basis. We have top-level review of performance and
achievement of goals, along with schedules and cost commitments of major projects on
a regular basis. We report to Congress and O&B on these projects
on a regular basis. Our budget is filled with commitments that relate back to the expenditure
of resources and time. That’s the easy part. One of the challenging
areas for NASA is to bring in an external expectation of what performance looks like
and overlay it on an already strong cultural performance. What our PIO does — Cynthia Lodge, working
with the COO — is how to make as little adjustment as possible in how we do our work, which we’re
very good at, in terms of the science and engineering objectives. As I always say building a stable budget is
harder than rocket science. Rocket science depends on physics, and we know what the laws
are there. That’s the easy part. How the external world defines performance,
we have an advantage there, because we can then go out and help people see how we define
performance and be a leader in that regard. We are very active in terms of the performance
community, the strategic planning community. We feel we have some good ways of how we do
that business and what performance should look like. I see the macro view of the culture, and I
see the organizational activity that goes on to the care and feeding of the performance
culture of the administration, making it come in sync with how we must define mission success
through performance and mission success. I have a lot of fun with the individual level
of performance with my own organization, the CFO Office. We spend an awful lot of time
building a culture of performance and trust, which is key for performance through the 10
NASA Field Centers where we have CFOs as well. We’ve built a concept that innovation depends
on a foundation of trust. You don’t get people coming out with great ideas unless they know
that they will have some way to talk about it. We focus on three tenants, open and honest
communication, one team, and learn and grow, on how we develop ourselves as an organization. That’s been a lot of fun. It’s really pushing
a culture shift on the old days where the CFO’s place used to be a place where you got
beaten down, and told to produce an amazing amount of product, in a very short time, under
incredible deadlines. Now, we have made it a little more humane
place and it’s becoming a showcase within NASA Headquarters on how the organization
has transformed itself. Seeing that progression of top down to individual performance and
organizational performance has been fun for me. One of the jokes at headquarters, within senior
staff meetings and program reviews, was when we see all these external requirements coming
on us, whether it’s Small Business, or the Performance Council, or CHCO, whatever, all
these things, we always said, “Do we still always have to be the “A” student? It’s exhausting
always having to be an “A” student. Can we just get by on a “C” every now and then?” It’s fascinating when a culture starts having
that kind of conversation, because we have people who always want to get out front and
be the best. We’re very proud of that culture, but sometimes you’ve got to know when to ratchet
back too, and say, “Hey, enough is enough. We’ve only got so many resources, so many
people, and so many lives to push around.” That’s another message to think about. Justin: Before we dig in a little further,
I did want to stop here and thank you, both NASA and Labor for stepping up and being willing
to speak on this stuff. The relationship that Sherri and Andrew just
described is where a lot of us want to get. I think that the relationships that Holly
and Kim started to talk about is “We’re building, we’re in the early stages, and we can see
how it’s worthwhile doing.” It’s the hard work that’s worth doing. I wanted to ask the team from Labor about
linking your budget now to your workforce planning. Your strategic plan, budget plan,
and workforce plan have to work together. It sounds like you’ve got a team that built
the strategic plan together, and is now digging in on the workforce plan, and then there’s
the annual budget process. If you could talk a little bit about the linkages and how that’s
working in Labor. Kim: Justin, it’s funny you should mention
that, because in our quarterly performance reviews, a lot of times, issues of workforce
planning will come up. The Deputy Secretary will look at one of our agency heads and notice
that they hadn’t met their targets for the quarter, and they are short their onboard
strength. We’ll hear, “We need to hire more.” Then,
we do hire more and the next quarter it is, “Now, you’re at your onboard strength, but
you still haven’t met your target,” and we’ll hear, “But we need six months to train an
investigator to do health inspections, and it takes six months to hire.” It becomes incredibly important to try and
project when you’re going to have those needs, so you can start early enough to get them
done. That’s what workforce planning is all about. The whole issue really comes to a head when
you go for a budget request, and your O&B examiner says to you, “Well, you’re asking
me for 200 FTE, but you’re not up to your onboard strength. Why are you asking me for
more FTEs?” This is something that our agencies, especially
in this uncertain budget environment. It seems like they’re between a rock and a hard place,
because on the one hand, they can’t get more resources if they’re not up to their FTE ceiling. On the other hand, when you’re in an uncertain
budget environment and you’re facing possible sequestration and possible shutdown, it’s
hard to bring those people onboard. Having the numbers and going through a meaningful
workforce planning exercise becomes even more important. I think people are starting to
realize that at our agencies, but we’re not quite at the point here we’ve solved the problems
yet. We need to learn from folks like NASA and other agencies who are a little further
along on that road. Holly: It’s funny, but maybe as a positive
outcome of sequestration, I think the planning part could not have been more underscored. From the HR perspective, all these sequestration
plans came in through us. We had to take a look at where the agencies were going to reduce,
what efforts they were going to take, see if they were in line with their reduced budgets,
see what kind of strategies we would deploy, department-wide, to try to help the agencies
to meet their goals. Aside from the sequestration kind of events,
on an annual basis, we do meet with our DOL agencies to find out how they’re doing and
what needs they have. The biggest need, more recently, has been on restructuring, has been
using HR flexibilities like VERA/VSIP, directory assignments, those kinds of things to right
size the organization and shift our resources where they’re most needed. Without the Budget folks, without the Performance
Management folks helping to inform that process, we’d really be out there guessing on what
strategies to deploy. Our success is very much dependent on the inputs of these two
other groups. Justin: Thanks for that. Sherri and Andrew,
in your opening, you described a mature, high performance culture at NASA. When Kim was
mentioning restructuring, it reminded me of Sherri’s comment about the mission changing
and the visceral impact that had on the culture at NASA. How did you adapt to that? What are the things
that you’ve done on the Human Capital side and on the Budget and Planning side, to give
people new goals and make them feel encouraged that there’s still important work to be done? Sherri: There’s a layer of things, and what
you just said, Justin, makes me think of something. One of the things, for example, we take very
seriously our EZs results. Our operating centers work with them very carefully. One of the
questions that came out a couple of years ago, and this was right after the Shuttle
retired, was that folks didn’t really connect with the mission. They didn’t know what they
were doing. Even though, if you went to a center and you
looked at people’s performance plans, they had worked, but they just felt this loss of
identity. This seems very simple when I say it, but
we, asked the administrator to, every time he spoke to employees, to say to them in some
fashion, “Your work matters. What you do matters. It matters to the mission. It’s important.” That took on a life of its own. People began
to hear him, that, “OK, I know the shuttles gone, and I’m not working shuttle anymore.
I know Constellation’s been cancelled. I don’t really know what’s next, but my work still
matters.” It’s a simple thing, but it’s made a huge difference in our employees and how
they respond and work with the mission. In the Office of Human Capital Management,
we have a whole division that does workforce planning and analysis for the agency. They
are tightly linked with the CFO’s office and with the budget planning process. They really
work hand-in-hand as Andrew’s office goes through the budget process. Actually, next week, we also have a workforce
planning meeting here, I think, in Greenbelt, with all of our centers. That is made up of
folks from the CFO organization as well as human capital, to talk about some of the challenges
and where we’re going. It’s a lot of communication. That’s one of
the things that I would say that we really stepped up as we went through this mission
transition was how we communicated with employees and how frequently we communicated with employees. Andrew: In fact, the head of Workforce Policy,
we’ve actually made her an honorary CFO employee… Sherri: Yes. She’s very proud. Andrew: …because we worked together quite
a bit every week talking issues, and budget planning, and what the skill mix issues across
the agency are, and things like that. This past week, we released the budget. There’s
always something in the mix that we cancel, or don’t do anymore. We have to work with
our congressional stakeholders on explaining why we made certain decisions. Likewise, we
have to do that with our employees. We mothballed the big airplane that carries
the space telescope out at Ames Research Center out in California. It was a billion dollar
investment. It just started going operational and we’re mothballing it. We had to explain
that to employees. There are about a hundred people that directly work with that activity,
more than that actually — a lot of issues talking with them — the union, etc. Of course, these kinds of decisions take a
long time to play out with Congress. We don’t know where we’ll end up in FY15 on that, but
we have that all the time. Setting an example, adaptability to programs
and projects that come and go on a continual basis, I think, is important, and how the
leadership talks about those things. There are other opportunities. We’re going
through a process to look at capabilities across the agency — where are duplicating
capabilities, where do we have five different centers doing the same thing, how can we tell
people that for the good of NASA’s future to get us stable for the next 50 years rather
than relying on our 50 years since Apollo, how can we rebuild the agency to allocate
capabilities in two or three places rather than five? That’s a culture change issue. That’s a process
of employees seeing the bigger picture, the bigger constraints on the agency, and how
we can grow together, and maybe reinvent ourselves, and retrain ourselves, because there are skill
mix issues all around the agency. We have a hard time actually getting people
to leave NASA. It’s a very low attrition rate of about two, three percent. We’d like to
see it little healthier at a six percent level. That would be nice — but people like working
there, which is a good thing. We have the new strategic plan. People can
relate to exactly to where they belong. It’s generally very simple in concept. We support
things on earth. We support things in space. We explore space. We keep our legacy, our
institution for the future. Everybody fits somewhere in there — our aeronautics
programs, Support Life on Earth, our earth science program, Climate Change Supports Earth,
our space science, Science Our Exploration, build a new rocket, going to Mars — that’s
all the space stuff. People like me and Sherri are on the third leg, the legacy, things like
that. We can all find a place. In general, we work very closely with the
workforce. Planning activities is key to our budget guidance. We’re at relatively stable
ceilings. We really have to work better at how to make the workforce even more agile
to change — adapt to change, change your skill sets, training, development, things
like that. We’re going to Mars. Do we have the skill
set to do that? I always pose that to a new group of younger people in general that come
into the agency asking if they would ever create NASA as it exists now. We definitely
would not. We would not have 10 centers the way we have it. We’d probably have three centers.
We would be working virtually and doing a lot of other things differently. So, you get
people thinking about how that vision needs to adjust. We live in a very constrained political environment.
We got a lot of stakeholders out there that are very aware of what’s spent at their centers
across the country. It’s also the strength of why we get support too, so there’s a balance. In general, it only leaves us a loan regarding
our FT levels. That’s because we work in full cost. A dollar is a dollar. Sherri: You just cursed us, but the way. Andrew: Sorry. A dollar is a dollar. That
dollar can buy civil service labor, procurement labor. It’s really based on what we get for
that dollar. They don’t like seeing our ceilings go up.
They don’t care about how we’re moving around within the full cost dollar because that’s
another resource. We commit ourselves to a performance result, given a certain set of
dollars, whether it be a mix of procurement or civil service. Most of our dollars are
procurement dollars at NASA. They’re 90 percent procurement dollars. That makes it a little
easier. Justin: I’m going to ask related questions,
one for NASA and one for the Labor Team. Starting with NASA, you both mentioned throughout a
number of your remarks a notion of performance culture. I actually wanted to follow up. It’s
often a phrase that people build entire panels around. The question I would like to ask is,
to you, what does it look like? How do you know you have one? Then, I want to take that and then pivot to
the Labor folks. NASA talked a lot about different things — some small, some complicated — that
try to connect performance, both individual and organizational, to employees who don’t
walk in already completely true believers in it. I want to get a sense of what some
of the things Labor is doing, is thinking about doing to try to connect to folks. Before I get to that, I do want to follow
up on the notion of performance culture. Then, NASA, what does it look like? How do you know
you have it? Sherri: Want to go? Andrew: One of the first things is being in
a room or a meeting and people asking questions, people questioning the decision — now that
can be extremely frustrating too. With NASA, it’s always funny. We get people coming from
DOD where you don’t question the decision of the SES in the room, or whatever. At NASA,
we always joke that that’s the beginning of the process. Once a decision is made, then
we keep going. My budget director came from the army. She’s
always dumbfounded that people just don’t follow the orders and move out, take the hill.
I said, “Well, this is NASA. It’s all about relationships. You’re also talking about a
lot of smart people that have to be heard. You don’t want to knock that voice down either.
Absolutely, you’ve got to move out once a decision is made and everybody has been heard.
That’s how we usually make decisions — you get all the people together.” We’re very transparent
in our decision process. The budget, we bring all the centers in. We
have an executive council that makes final budget decisions, and those decisions are
disseminated. We use to live in a very secretive decision process. Now we have decision memoranda.
The administrator signs them. They’re posted. All the leadership of the agency understands
every decision that was made between the budget process, so people buy-in. Then, you’re setting
up the process whereby a decision will be followed. Of course, you’re going to have
to have some follow up to make sure it was followed effectively. I think being able to know that you’ve got
a voice at the table, that there’s transparency, and get people to buy-in to say, “I’m part
of this performance. I’m part of that decision. We’ve got to go off and make it happen,” and
that along with a leadership that talks about that… At our monthly review, with all the programs
and the centers, they’re looking at the performance of all the mission directors. They are having
an honest conversation. The centers are online saying whether or not they have the resources
they need to support the mission activity. The mission directors are there to say whether
or not our programs and projects are there, giving the status of whether or not they’re
having any issues, having institution support their goals and objectives. Having that conversation out loud, I think,
is a sign of a performance culture, and being allowed to ask questions — because we’ve
learned the hard way with the Challenger and the shuttle accidents, that if you don’t raise
your voice, bad things happen. Sherri: I would just add that we are a very
mission-driven, project-oriented organization. Over 60 percent of our employees are scientist
or engineers. They approach everything. Sometimes they will… Andrew: They’re not shy. Sherri: They’re not shy. They will over-engineer
a project. As Andrew said, they speak up. It is because we have this safety culture
that really encourages people to speak up, because if they don’t speak up, bad things
do happen. That is what happened with both Challenger and Columbia. Our folks take that
to heart. Couple that with a very low attrition rate
— people stay at NASA. There are generations of families at our NASA centers. It’s not
uncommon to find a grandparent, and a parent, and a child working at the same center, either
as a civil servant or as a contractor. It is in people’s blood and performance. Making
that mission happen is what they do. It’s just what we’re use to living with. It’s exciting and sometimes it’s frustrating,
but it’s very energizing. Andrew: One little thing. We played the bad
guy last year because we had a policy come out against swag, basically to save money.
It hit right into that culture, the pride people feel about their individual projects
and programs. We outlawed all the patches, all the stuff,
all the beer — things that people hold their beer cans in with the mission patches and
logos on. It was amazing how much money we’re spending on that stuff. People thought they
were taking away their reason of being. I said, “This is taxpayer dollars folks. You
can find other ways to celebrate your project or programs,” — but interesting conflict
of culture and the means to help poor people. Kevin: Labor, maybe you could follow up and
talk about — how do you get people who don’t come in as true believers to have them connect
to performance, whether it’s organizational or individual performance? Kim: Well probably, unlike NASA, DOL really
doesn’t have a more homogeneous workforce. It is very diverse — different specialty
areas, different missions, different areas of focus, and hardly any that have positive
education requirements. We’re getting a very big cross-section of people coming together. In some of our agencies, we have low attrition
— not a low as NASA, but lower than maybe the national average. Then, some, we have
very high attrition. I think part of it is a new energy brought the new secretary. He
came on board at the end of July. It’s a focus on employee engagement. It’s a focus on union
input and union pre-decisional involvement. I think those kinds of things are raising
to the top issues for our workforce like training and development. Those particular areas were
very critical for our ongoing success, but also recently hit with the sequestration and
the impact to discretionary funding. I’d say a better focus on training and development,
more excitement about different rotational assignments, and leadership development kinds
of programs — that I was telling you before about — engaging our new SES on more cross-department
issues. Holly: Kevin, one of the levers that we have
to try and get buy-in for the performance management process in the culture is the budget
process. Labor is a relatively small department. I
think we have about one percent of the discretionary funds in the entire government. If we want
to justify any budget increases at all, we have to have the evidence. We have to tell
OMB and Congress what we’re going to deliver in return for those extra resources. When that’s a prerequisite for an extra budget
request, that’s a pretty powerful argument for embracing performance. That’s been a big
win for us — integration with the Budget Office has really helped us. OMB’s emphasis
on data-driven decision-making just kind of reinforces it even more. Kevin: Thank you. Justin: For my CHCOs, how do you see…Holly
just talked about the role of… Holly: [off-mic comment] Justin: I know. Holly talked about the role
that the business side plays in helping sell the human capital side for my CHCO brethren.
What role do you see yourself as playing in the strategic business partner in that equation? Kim: I think we’ve been pretty lucky, in department,
in terms of the HR center. We are heavily consulted before the budget stuff really comes
to pass, or the recommendations come out. We have 17 HR offices. The 17 offices are
primarily operational. At the department level, we’re kind of the strategic game. We’re involved
with a lot of the vetting. As a way to get into the HR policy, accountability,
and strategic planning arena, all of our specialists are engaged with the annual budget reports
and the pars that come out to find out where the agencies are having difficulty, so that
when we do have these consultations, we’re prepared to give some meaningful feedback
and meaningful suggestions about strategies. Sherri: [inaudible 0:47:36] at NASA is similar
in that the chief human capital officer is at the table for all the strategic management
meetings and various councils, and whatever that we seem to have a lot of. There is a strong relationship between our
CFO and our CHCO. That has been built truly over a glass of wine. It just built because
of the necessity of us working very closely together as we move forward and transition
the agency — keep moving us forward is really where we’re headed. The other thing at the centers. Our HR directors
at the centers are strategic partners with the center directors. Almost all of them report
directly to the center director and sit at the table with the rest of the center management.
They’re engaged as the center goes through their big decision-making and strategic process.
We are very fortunate to be at the table and involved in all the major decisions. Justin: Kevin, on that point — I’m sorry
— Andrew, is the budgeting function as distributed as the human capital functions or do they
both work their way up in the same way that the HR director reports to the centers? Andrew: The centers CFO’s all report to my
boss, the CFO. Justin: OK. Andrew: It’s different. They’re linked to
CFO headquarters. In my organization, I’ve got the budget and
the strategy and performance activities under me. We have a very tight link between strategic
assessment, performance evaluation, and reporting, and the budget. It’s constant interaction.
They team together. They coordinate. The CJ and the [inaudible 0:49:43] reports together,
as well as the accounting side of the House and within the CFO. It’s a seamless sort of
constant mix of people talking all the time. We have a monthly review together with the
assessment and performance folks, along with the budget folks. They brief me and the CFO
on a monthly basis. That feeds into the larger agency review — monthly agency review. Justin: At NASA, it sounds likes there’s two
different processes. The budgeting process is more chain-of-command. The human capital
planning processing is more distributed. Yet, it’s all very collaborative. At Labor, I’m
just curious, is it sort of strong CFO distributed CHCO or is it different than that? Do all of the human resource directors of
your agencies report to the CHCO or it’s distributed — and the same question for the budgeting
process. Kim: Bad question. Holly: Right now, we have — I just wrote
them down — five DOL agencies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, OSHA, Mine Safety, Health
Administration, the Solicitor’s Office, and the Employment and Training Administration
that have their own HR offices. They report through their own agencies. Then
we have seven other HR offices that are reporting through the Office of the Assistant Secretary
for Administration and Management. Justin: OK. Then, the budgeting process, does
it parallel that, or is it much more like Andrew described where it’s very…? Holly: Each of our 17 agencies has…Most
of them have a presidentially appointed head, a presidentially appointed assistant secretary.
Each of those assistant secretaries has their own budget person with their own staff to
then move that along, so no. Our CFO does not have a budget. It makes an interesting
process. Andrew: Well, the CFO is the only place in
the agency where the whole picture comes together. You’ve got your mission directors, your program
directorates which drive the content of the agency, and then you have your centers, which
support the enabling institution to make that work happen for the mission directorates. We don’t oversee the mission directorate program
budgets. They report to us, and they deliver the budget to us, and then we manage the whole
PPVE process, the budget process, so we’re process owners. Meeting like this, blissfully,
gets me out of having to go and brief the hill today. [laughter] Kevin: We have a few more questions here,
but I want to pause here and maybe open it up to the folks in the audience to ask any
questions that you came in here with, anything that you thought of when you listened to the
panelists, respond to questions, or to give their own synopsis of what their approach
is. I want to pause for our questions, so we don’t
take up everything, and see what questions and thoughts people have out there in the
audience. This is the part where someone has to go first,
so all the other people in the audience who are thinking of questions can realize it’s
OK to be able to ask something that they’re thinking. I am not going to shy away from
calling on people. Yes? Audience Member: How integrated is your agency
[inaudible 0:53:34] ? [laughter] Holly: You’re on the end Kim [inaudible 0:53:48]
natural. [crosstalk] Kim: I know. I’m not sure that it’s as integrated as we
would like it to be. We’ve had a change in leadership. We’ve had a delay in the development
of a strategic plan. Let me also say that many times in the HR
environment our strategic folks have difficulty getting to the table because our customers
don’t necessarily want to talk about strategies if you can’t hire a particular position. We
have some situations where we’re not as sophisticated as we would like. I think when you talk about integrating our
strategic HR with our workforce planning and our strategic assessment process, virtually
every kind of structure change comes in through our office. So we know kind of what’s happening. Our HR officer is a primary consultant for
every agency. In fact, we kind of get information before a lot other organizations do, so we
can help them with the communications strategy. Help them lay out a plan to deliver what their
interests are. As a regular, recurring event, as Holly mentioned
we are highly appropriated. That leaves very little room for some sweeping changes, as
opposed to, maybe, my past life with a GSA where the strategic budget process was wide
open. We had a lot of reimbursable money, it wasn’t
highly appropriated, and the agency could decide what direction it wanted to do. That
made our role much more significant. Andrew: Our third goal in our new strategic
plan is to serve the American public and accomplish our mission by effectively managing our people,
technical capabilities, and infrastructure. Objective 3.1 is, “Attract and advance a highly
skilled, competent, and diverse workforce, cultivate an innovative work environment,
and provide the facilities, tools, and services needed to conduct NASA’s mission.” That is
a full focus on workforce being our key resource in the agency. It’s a strong message. Obviously, the result
is that is a key leadership focus across the agency. Yes, OHCM was involved, as were all the offices
across our agency in the making of the strategic plan. I think it’s apparent for us. Kevin: Other questions that people have? Yes. Audience Member: They are agencies simply
require non-CSS performance. It is owned and operated by the faculty. The editor’s home
is owned and operated by CFO and CIO. Once a year, eventually, CIO now formerly law,
puts out and measures human capital. We send out a paper exercise for our executives and
just about everybody in the agency. Is there a viable, practical way, a pragmatic
way, of making that workable on federal? Something to get a multi-performance-based approach
and exercise. CIO people want nothing to do with the plans, the plans people want nothing
to do with the measurements, and you have that taxonomy and you have to get on with
it. Kevin: You want to take that one? Holly: It was easier for us, because Kim and
I both work for the same assistant secretary. So in our agency, performance and human capital
is in the same bucket. How they never say “never waste a good crisis” — well, when
Kim and I first came in, we had lost our SES certification, and so a significant number
of leaders in the department were facing a pay cut, or not being able to hire at the
higher rate, which was a consequence nobody wanted. One of the factors that led to losing our
certification was we couldn’t prove that we were integrating organizational performance
with individual performance. So our leader called us in, our bosses, and said to us,
“Listen. We’ve got to do this. I really want to do it. I don’t want it to be a paper exercise.
Bring me a proposal.” We had an impetus, and we seized it, and we
came up with this plan of actually integrating the measures and milestones from our operating
plan into each performance plan. And it wasn’t easy. We went through each SES
performance plan and we met with each agency HR person, and we gave them individual advice
on where they needed to improve. We did it before the mid-year so that there was still
enough time in the period of performance if anybody needed to make changes. But it took a long time. That first year,
we didn’t get all the way there. It was just now, when the ’14 plans came in, that some
of them were just fully aligned. It took us a while, but we did have that burning platform
and that crisis to work from in the beginning. Andrew: For me, a lot of it depends on the
quality of your leadership, to push back and to ask the right question and to question
the requirement if it really doesn’t make sense, which we do a lot of. Again, that’s
part of the culture. You question a requirement if it’s not going to make sense to implement
in the mission and mission success criteria. Yeah, I get it. Somewhere along the line,
there’s going to be some stupid thing that somebody has to fill out, and they don’t understand
the context while they’re doing it, but I think it really starts at the top with the
PIO to make the imposition merge with what really makes sense for your agency. There
are some right things to do, and you can translate a lot of the stuff into the right thing you
do, and translate it into the external requirement. If it doesn’t make sense, I think you owe
it to yourselves to push back and tell these guys what doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make
sense for our agency, and not every agency is the same. We have different requirements.
But I think you have to still have some measure of performance, some fundamental thing that
we’re all trying to get to to make this work in a productive, efficient way. I always say, question the requirement and
see how far it goes back up, and then you can gauge the quality of your leadership as
to their response. Sherri: I would also say that we have a performance
review board that looks very carefully at these, and the CFO and the folks involved
with putting the strategic plan together are involved in some of those discussions. But Andrew’s right. We have pushed back at
stuff when somebody wants to throw something over the fence and layers yet another requirement
on people’s performance plans. We have just pushed back and said, “This just doesn’t make
any sense.” We can make the link between SES performance plans and the agency performance, And we have been reasonably successful so
far. Holly: When we talked about our crosswalk
effort, I think part of the success of that effort was not to just look at one activity
coming out, we’re just going to do this crosswalk and then we’re going to run away. We have
to have a game plan of what are we going to do the next year or what are we going to do
the next year? We can’t keep doing the same thing. We have go to move this from an activity
to being part of our culture, a culture of continuing to get better, continuing to force
the alignment issue so that all the employees understand how their jobs relate to the missions
of these organizations, and the overall mission of the department. So like I said before, we started with these
executives, mapping them to the operating plan. This past year we had the agencies do
it, not necessarily Holly and our staff. We looked at how they did and made them fix whatever
they were doing. And then for this coming year, then pushing it down to the grade 15
managers and so on and so on. We’re also able to use those crosswalks to
identify areas where we’re not doing well, and even going into those areas and saying,
if this was partly due to a workforce issue, let us see those standards. Let us see where
we’re not getting the results we need to see if we’ve got to address that in individual
performance standards of employees or groups of employees. Kim: I love your question, so I’m going to
pile on here. But it wasn’t just a one-way thing. It wasn’t just performance saying,
“Hey, HR, look how we can help you.” We actually learned a lot, the performance shop, by looking
at the SES commitments and the SES performance plans and we said, “Wow, there’s a lot of
important stuff in here that should be in our operating plans.” So we actually were able to make the agency
operating plans even stronger. We didn’t just make suggestions for the performance plans.
We also, as we were formulating the next year’s operating plans, we used that data to make
the operating plans more meaningful, and I think both of our processes benefitted. Justin: I have just a very practical follow-up
to that question, because that question suggests the lack of a working relationship and I wanted
to frame it in just a very basic way, which is if you could articulate to folks how often
do you or your teams interact with each other? Is it around significant milestones or event?
Is it that, plus also just continuous regular interaction? What’s the day-to-day cycle and
cadence of team interactions? Andrew: The head of workforce planning, policy
comes to a teleconference I have every Monday. So she sits in there with all the CFOs across
the agency and my team and the mission director at Budget Leads and she has a voice at the
table. We talked yesterday about a new operational
models across the agency built on capability versus our center approach, and so we were
brainstorming about how that works with people on my team. So, we’re thinking beyond what we’re doing
today, thinking about radicalizing an adjustment in the agency, just thinking. That was another
discussion. I’m going out there next week to talk to the workforce planning group next
week. I would say every week there’s some kind of
budget, and during high budget season, it’s more often than that. Kim: I think we talk almost every day. Our
staffs integrate. Holly runs a performance work group monthly meeting. Our folks attend
that. She and her folks are invited to HR officer conference calls. On a quarterly basis, we deal with reporting
of administrative and HR and procurement, different metrics that we both prepare the
narratives, describe the deficiencies. It is a very integrated relationship. Holly: I’m on the PRB and we assist in the
Diversity Inclusion Planned Formulation. We do a lot together. Kim: Yeah. Andrew: And my boss and her boss go out and
have lots of wine together after hours. Kevin: We have a microphone right behind you. Sherri: That’s is true. Audience Member: Hi. You mentioned having
monthly performance meetings. Can you talk a little bit more about those and what they
look like and what their purposes are and so on? Andrew: Yeah. The associate administrator
convenes a meeting and it’s a teleconference and in-face meeting with all the centers across
the country, and the mission director and associated administrators are there, so you’ve
got all the leadership of the agency and they run through an agenda and there’s an external
independent assessment group that looks at a portion of the agency each quarter and they
give their assessment of the performance of that organization meeting. Are there any projects in trouble? Are they
meeting their milestone commitments, any earned value? Things like that are popping up, things
of concern. My budget director gives an overview of the
agency finances, budget picture, and then the head of procurement gives an overview.
The head of HR gives an assessment if there’s anything going on there. So each of the functional
leads of the agency have a chance to step up the small business associative administrator. Then every quarter, we have an assessment
of how we’re doing against our performance goals and strategic objectives. That’s once
a quarter, because the COO is leading this view. Robert Lightfoot is his name. The centers each have an opportunity to get
up and talk about how they…and it’s all done through risk assessment. Are they green,
yellow, or red? Do they need help in certain areas? So the reds get special attention. You create a trend over time when you do this
on a regular basis and you start seeing trends and you start seeing a project slide into
more and more trouble. That’s the place where if you are in trouble and you don’t say it,
you’re going to be in bigger trouble later on down the road, because you didn’t bring
it up when you knew it. So that mode of accountability and transparency is at play. Again, it’s all about transparency and speaking
up when you’ve got a problem, when you see a problem. And then you’ve got the centers,
and the mission directors and the functional offices all in the same room so they can share
the information and crosscheck things to see if we’ve got problems in the agency. It’s
an all day review. Sherri: In addition to our quarterly performance
meetings with the principals, we also had a monthly meeting of staff that did performance.
I have to admit one of the drawbacks for our system, and Chris Fitsimons out there in the
audience can speak to this very well… Andrew: He now works for me by the way. [laughter and crosstalk] Holly: You’ve got a great guy over there. [laughter] Andrew: I know. I followed him. Sherri: It’s a lot of work. All of these things
that we’re describing take work from the agencies, so the staff and the agencies are often doing
this as a collaborative duty. They have six other hats that they’re wearing, you know,
my deliverable may be number 16 on their list. The monthly meetings are just a way to get
everybody together and talk about how we can make the burdens a little easier for people,
how we can move the deadlines around. We have people from our group review guidance
before we send it out — and Kim reviews a lot of our guidance too — just to make sure
that it’s in line with what else the departments asking for. I only know what I’m asking for.
I try to be cognizant of what the budget office is asking for, what the HR office is asking
for, what the other departmental offices are demanding from our agencies, so that we can
try to be a little bit reasonable, and to give people some recognition too. We try to offer some training opportunities,
and foster a little bit of a sense of community among our performance staff and the agencies
through these monthly meetings. I actually think Holly had an important point,
which is this is on top of your day to day work, and so it is your day to day work, but
sometimes it’s number 16 on your list. We do have good relationships with our performance
people at NASA, and they are, you know, everybody’s trying to work toward the same goal, and people
are pretty flexible, or try to be flexible when they can with deadlines, and help out.
It’s all about building those relationships, so that everybody does understand that this
is just another thing that an office like Human Capital does. Kim: That’s a good point. Audience Member: Hi, I have a quick question.
Hi Sherri, It’s good to see you. [crosstalk] Sherri: Hi. It’s good to see you. Audience Member: As it relates to coordination
between different offices, [inaudible 1:11:36] , chief operating officer and such, is anyone
[inaudible 1:11:41] familiar with HR STAT, and if you are could you tell us what your
agency is doing with HR STAT? Sherri: I will say that we have just started
the work with HR STAT, so I don’t know what we’re doing quite yet. We’re in this next
new realm. [crosstalk] Kevin: I was going to say that…I did say
at the outset that I wasn’t afraid on calling on people, so I think I see…Is treasury
back there? This is where as moderators we actually have liberty to call on anyone. [laughter] Kevin: You have a lot of experience with HR
STAT, I think were part of pilot. Maybe you could address the question. Sorry to put you
on the spot. Anita Blair: What was the question? Kevin: It was about to talk more about HR
STAT and the role that’s played. Anita: Thanks, Rafael. You’re a PAAL. [laughter] Anita: OK, I’m Anita Blair treasury. I see
my friends down here. Kevin, you were there at the beginning too.
We were doing agency level STAT, and it became obvious that in the realm of human capital
we had a lot of metrics, and we had a lot of goals. It was important to get that organized,
and have everybody across the organization aware of the goals, and aware of resources
that we had to be able to help people reach these goals. We started pulling together our — in treasury
we have bureaus, we don’t let themselves agencies, although they do — so we had the human capital
officers of all of our bureaus together with training and civil rights and diversity, and
I just kind of pulled anybody that had an interest in analytics and IT. We pulled all these folks together, we organized
around our human capital strategic plan, and we just started putting one foot in front
of the other to develop metrics and track those. We’ve been doing that for about three
years now. I would say we really don’t work particularly
much with our performance improvement office on this because it’s predominantly a human
capital objective, although we do coordinate with them in what human capital metrics go
before our senior leadership deputy secretary, mainly for the agency STAT quarterly performance
reviews, as they’re calling them now. Anything else? [laughs] Back to you Kevin. [laughter] Anita: Rafael, you may remember this from
your time at NASA, but we already — without being yet involved with HR STAT, and we are
about to be involved with HR STAT — we already produce a fair amount of HR data, and that
gets reported at these baseline performance reviews that Andrew was just talking about. We focus more on hires, losses, attrition,
that kind of thing because that’s what our management’s interested in, so we will start
the process of moving into working with HR STAT too. Kevin: We have a few more minutes, but there’s
someone who’d been raising their hand a few times, and I want to make sure you get a chance
to ask your question. Audience Member: Sheer persistence. Thank
you. A couple of years ago I recall OPM sending out competencies related to performance management,
and these are the competencies, and these are the skills that we think the staff needs
who’s working on performance management. What I haven’t yet seen is any kind of training
modules, or [indecipherable 1:15:51] training courses on GPRA-MA, on performance management,
on outcome oriented measures and things like that. Is there any such thing being developed for
agencies. Kevin: I’m glad you asked the question. This
summer we plan to offer the kind of training you articulated in what I call the 80 percent,
which is that if you work in different agencies in the performance capacities there’s so much
commonality, no matter where you work, around good measures, what are the facets of the
law itself, what’s a strategic review, how to develop a strategic plan that I think cover
80 percent of what one has to know. The other 20 percent is unique to the agency. This summer we are currently developing the
training, which will wind up being probably five, or six training modules. We want to
have it rolled out, and offered at no cost to federal employees this summer. We are piloting
them over the next month or two, and based on that feedback, we’ll make adjustments,
and then be able to roll it out more broadly this summer. See Anita, I got a question I wasn’t expecting. [laughter] Kevin: One more question? India Wright: I have a question. I’m India
Wright from OPM. You talked about early agility, and I wanted to link that to the management
goals. We switched to include management goals in our new strategic plan, and we also switched
from a life cycle to more outcome oriented, so that was a huge culture change in our organization. We also had a short window to do it within,
and we also included human center design in our approach to developing our strategic plan.
A lot of the executives and staff were engaged in a huge culture shock and change in a very,
very tight window, and we also had CJ and everything else. With that agility, I think
we got a crash course in it. Had we submitted the CJ on Monday, I was thinking
how do we — as a recap of the lessons learned — how do we now approach it in a way that
we can…We know we’re going to get hit with that, and that’s seeming to be the flavor
of what’s to come with these new requirements, strategic reviews. Do you have any insight into how to increase
the readiness of the employees and so forth for that type of fast paced environment, any
exercises, or ways that we can do that in our down time to better prepare them for that?
Because we’re a smaller agency, so we don’t have as many sectioned off processes. We kind
of are catch all, and we worked on multiple things. Like, I’m in performance, but I work
in the budget office. We don’t have as many…We’re not a department
where it’s larger, so any insights into how to do that? Andrew: It’s interesting because your question
sort of ties in with broader things I was thinking about as I was listening. NASA gets
away with all this fun sexy stuff, we go out and explore the universe, so that motivates
a lot of people to work those long hours, to do those things because they feel like
part of our mission. That’s easy. There’s a lot of stuff that I think at the
macro level performance is easy for NASA, but the common element is getting down to
what you’re talking about. How you keep, at the organizational level, people motivated,
people crunching away, people excited about coming in day to doing the same thing. In my shop especially, the CFO’s office, it
can be a grueling place. The budget shop, the accounting systems, things like that,
so I know exactly what you’re talking about. We have these deliverables, we have a million
stakeholders asking us for a million things, we’ve got to review all the agency materials
going out of the agency, everything happening at once. That gets back down to what I think NASA doesn’t
necessarily do very well, and it’s getting better, is we’ve always promoted great engineers,
but they’re lousy managers. They’re lousy managers. HR is putting a whole new emphasis back on
supervision, management, leadership, and making that a much broader part. Until we develop
leaders that can speak to people rather than systems and spacecraft, we won’t be as good
as we want to get there. In our organization, I can speak for the CFO, we’ve got about 100
and so people, but we have influence across all the other CFO organizations, so we serve
as a model. You find other ways to motivate people. You
find other ways to get people excited about putting in a little budget out, right, and
doing it quickly, and doing these other things while you’re doing it. What do you do? First of all, I think you’ve
got to focus on developing your supervisors, and going back to the basics. You know, setting
expectations, setting performance expectations, having good discussions on performance with
them, talking to people about having details, setting up a culture where you’re OK with
people going off and doing details in other organizations to broaden their mindsets and
bring back innovative ideas. We have a Top 10 board when you walk out into
the CFO organization. It has a prioritization of the CFO’s top ten things that she wants
to get done that year and we have owners over those things and everybody knows that those
are the top ten priorities of the organization. Number one up there is strengthening the management
outcomes. That drives a culture of “Lunch and Learns” to have people talk to each other
about what their jobs are. We have a performance there every year to celebrate what we’ve done,
accomplished the past year. We put a lot of time and energy into monthly meetings with
the supervisors and the division directors, all the supervisors, to talk about things
like setting expectations, how to have tough conversations with employees, performance
reviews. We then initiated open director review of
bonuses and awards so each division director gets to see what everybody else out there
— they’re rating their people, so we’re having some fairness and consistency in the system
of how we award and reward employees. We celebrate monthly “All Hands,” people who
shout-outs to people. We have a suggestion box where Beth Robinson reads everything that
comes in there out loud to everybody. Sometimes you see somebody saying, “Beth passed me and
didn’t smile and say ‘Hello’ to me. Why doesn’t management feel kinder toward me?” Yeah, and so she reads it out loud and she’ll
say, “OK, guys, sometimes I’m having a bad day,” but that authenticity and having that
honest conversation is key to people feeling like they’re being heard. Yes, but it’s a
continual behavior that you’ve got to drive with your leaders and your supervisors to,
like I said, open and honest communication, learn and grow, and one team. Those are the three tenets that we created
as a culture and we’re cutting down on triangulation and if you’ve got a problem with one employee
and bring it to another employee, and that employee says, “We’ve got to take it to the
original employee that you’ve got the beef with. Let’s have an adult conversation.” We’ve been doing that for three years and
it all came from the EVS Survey because we were abysmal. When I came on board, I saw
we were abysmal and we’re still abysmal, but we’re moving up and headquarters across the
agency is still the lowest across all the NASA centers, so we’re not all happy at NASA,
obviously. The key is that you’re trying to get better
and there’s only so much that the sexy NASA mission can take you on. You also have to
focus on the fundamentals of leadership and management and that’s a day-to-day authenticity
discussion you’ve got to have with all your people. That’s the only way you build trust in an
organization, but it’s tiring at times because not everybody wakes up with a sense of happiness
every day, no matter how good they have it. [laughs] But it doesn’t really have to — it’s
a bigger picture. I don’t know the answer to your dilemma, but
it’s all about focusing on the people so they can be adaptable, so they can start thinking
they own accountability for the group’s success and they are proud of their product, no matter
what they’re doing. And that you’ve got leadership that knows that, knows those fundamentals
about what motivates people and talking with them honestly and not playing the games. Sherri: My office, by the way, is the happiest
at headquarters, but… Andrew: They are. [laughter] Sherri: Just based on what you just said — wow,
your office has gone through a lot of stuff. A couple of things to remember, and Andrew
said a lot of this, is how your supervisors, you leaders, need to model the behavior that
they want to see and I think that’s really critical. It takes some time. That’s why we
are spending a lot of time now looking at supervisors and how we can help supervisors
learn to be better supervisors. The other thing that your description made
me think of pre and post-government shutdown, where my office did nothing from the middle
of December through pretty much the middle of November except pre and post shutdown work.
And at the end of that, we were done. Even the happiest office in headquarters was done. My boss, [indecipherable 1:26:40] , basically
said to us, “Chill. Just take a little bit of time and gather yourself together,” because
we’d just gone through this incredible change and a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of work and
a lot of stress and she just said basically, “Just chill out for a little bit. We’ll get
the momentum back,” and you will, too. Justin: I want to thank the four of you for
coming here, and I don’t think you’re going to leave right now, but for sharing. I do
want to transition from this part of the session to a…as we evolve into an even more interactive
part of the agenda. Aisha: OK. Thank you so much to NASA and Labor,
again. We’re going to go ahead… [applause] Aisha: I think that’s great. Thanks for providing
your insights. [music] Woman 1: I think one of the most surprising
things for me is that agencies are working very hard to connect individual performance
to agency performance as required by the Office of Personnel Management. And this conceptually makes sense, especially
at the very highest level. If you have the head person, head politicals in career service,
their performance dependent upon agency performance, that makes sense because they have the political
clout to make a lot of things happen. But when you’re talking about individual persons
and connecting their performance, you need to have a much better sense than we do now
of what are the steps between what the individual does and what the desired outcomes are. Man 1: Well, one of the things I was surprised
to find out about performance management is that just because there’s valuable information
that would help you, basically, do your performance assessment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that
everybody else considers that it’s valuable to have or that they’re even collecting it
and we need to help them understand the value in having that information. Woman 2: I was surprised that not everything
is so easily measured. Again, coming from a background where I was very, very into analysis
and data, I was almost certain there were a few things that couldn’t be measured. After
working in the performance community and seeing the different situations and the different
functions and programs the agencies have to manage, I did realize that sometimes it’s
not so cut and dry. Man 2: One thing I found a little bit surprising
about performance management was the things that the programs are focused on on a day-to-day
basis don’t always match the annual measures that are set up at the beginning of year and
that are tracked over time year to year. I think that’s one of the challenges is trying
to better match the priorities of a program with what it’s measuring so that they’re one
in the same. Man 3: I was surprised to learn that performance
management is not a crisis management activity. It’s not a put out the fire type of activity.
Performance management requires planning and collaborative thinking, and it requires collaborative
thinking across each level of your agency. So you just can’t jump into it, you can’t
wait until the last minute to approach it. You have to have a well thought out process
and plan ahead. Woman 3: Biggest tip I have is that the new
government Performance and Results Modernization Act has given us a big opening in recommending
quarterly reviews. The only trouble with quarterly reviews is that people come up with various
data and it’s hard to assess which data is the most important to take. Because you don’t want to just do progress,
you want to go from where you are to where you have identified that you want to go. So
first, you have to understand that. And that sounds simple. It’s simple in an agency where
the aim of the agency is to put out Social Security checks, for example. It starts simple, but the logic is straight
forward. The line between resources and what you want at the end — it’s straight forward.
But when you start talking about changing cultural values, like improving education,
it becomes vastly more complex. So to understand that, you need a logic model
that lays out graphically what are the steps between your inputs and what your end outcome
is, what are the different steps and whether they are backed by just “we’ve always done
it” kind of traditional, whether there is some evidence that indicates if you do this,
you’ll get what you want. Having done that, the next is who are the
partners you’ll need, because without those partners, you’re not going to get it done.
And when I say partnerships, we’ve all got partnerships, but I’m talking about performance
partnerships where it’s clear to all the partners what is it that individual contributions are,
what is the measure of quality, and have them jointly assess progress and report on it. And the third step is to have champions who
understand the political shows that are involved in making these kinds of changes and know
how to negotiate it. Woman 4: Always, always build your networks.
There’s a great performance community across the government and also throughout organizations
where best practices can be learned and there are opportunities for collaboration. So I think if you work on your networks and
also understand where the priorities are, you could use that information to get out
what we’re really talking about, which is measuring programs and getting results. Man 4: I think that one of the most important
tips that I could give you is that performance is basically potentially threatening, and
when you start talking to folks about setting targets, and then, basically tracking the
performance against those targets, you need to help them understand that this is not just
a game of gotcha. This is not an opportunity to necessarily
— this is something that is information that could help them better achieve what they’re
trying to achieve. It helps to inform them as to what kind of progress they’re making
and gives them an idea of what kind of other activities or alternative actions they should
be taking. So you need to help them understand that it’s
not so much something that’s supposed to be threatening to them, it’s supposed to be something
that helps them. Man 5: For folks who are interested in incorporating
performance practices into their work, I would first focus on figuring out what information
you have available that you can track over time. And once you have that, I would look
at how well that is connected to your mission and your goals. I wouldn’t worry too much about setting targets,
I would just focus on measuring or monitoring progress over time for a key indicator of
success against your goals. Woman 5: Make sure to understand your organizational
culture. Make sure that if you truly develop solutions based on the needs of the culture
and try to address barriers that way. The second one would be be customer service
oriented. Make sure that you are serving your stakeholders, that you are giving them every
opportunity to give you feedback on what you’re doing and what they’re doing so you can identify
gaps in areas that need improvement.

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