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Department of Premier and Cabinet

Managing performance in the State Service

Performance management - why it matters

Effective performance management is fundamental to employee and agency productivity and performance, and delivering the level of service to the Tasmanian community expected by the Government of the day. An effective performance management system is one that integrates organisational, business and individual planning and performance. It enables employees to understand the goals of the organisation and to see how individual employee and team outputs contribute to the achievement of organisational objectives and the government of the day’s priorities.

Performance management helps employees understand the level of performance required, strong areas of their performance and how it can be further improved. It also highlights the learning and development required to improve capability and productivity and provides a basis for career development.

It does this by articulating the standard of work and values and behaviours required to meet job requirements, and communicate and work effectively with others.

For agencies, an effective performance management system improves their organisational capability and productivity with a view to meeting their organisational objectives.

The legislative and policy framework relating to performance management

The State Service Amendment (Performance) Act 2011 (proclaimed on 17 August 2011) and Employment Direction 26 (signed by the Premier on 4 February 2013) bring into effect the legal framework for effective performance management within the State Service and a culture of accountability for performance and continuous improvement.

The State Service Act 2000 now incorporates a number of new elements identified in the State Service Amendment (Performance) Act 2011) within the following sections:

  • Section 3(1) Interpretation
  • Section 7(1) State Service Principles
  • Section 34(1) Functions and Powers of Heads of Agency
  • Section 36 Annual Reports by Heads of Agency
  • Section 44(3)( c) Termination of Employment of Officers/Employees
  • Part, 7A Managing for Performance.

Employment Direction No. 26 - Managing Performance in the State Service

The State Service Amendment (Performance) Act 2011 provided for a Employment Direction to be developed.

Together, the Act and Employment Direction No. 26 clearly articulate the roles, responsibilities, expectation and accountability of performance for all those involved in an agency’s performance management system, be they the Head of the Agency, employee or manager.

Employment Direction No. 26 sets out the minimum requirements and underlying principles to be met by agencies in development, implementation and evaluation of a performance management system, which are:

  1. alignment of employee performance to government policies, programs and priorities to agency strategic and operational planning and the State Service Principles, Code of Conduct and agency values;
  2. effective performance is required of all employees regardless of role, responsibility or level;
  3. all employees share responsibility for continually improving performance, productivity and the quality of service delivery;
  4. promoting a workplace culture of responsiveness, initiative, innovation and flexibility aimed at achieving results;
  5. procedural fairness is integral to all processes, including open, regular and constructive feedback in a supportive workplace environment;
  6. appropriate recognition where performance exceeds or meets performance outcomes and specific requirements;
  7. underperformance is not acceptable and is addressed by defining clear expectations and consequences and providing support and feedback in a procedurally fair manner; and
  8. disadvantage or discrimination does not occur to employees within the meaning of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998.

Employment Direction No. 26 is not intended to propose a ‘one size fits all’ model of performance management or prescribe how individual agencies achieve results in managing performance, but it does prescribe a process associated with managing underperformance.

A number of agencies focus their performance management systems on structured assessment against values-based and behaviours criteria. This allows flexibility so that agencies can adopt the most suitable means of integrating performance management systems into their particular organisational cultures.

Guidelines to support Employment Direction 26 - Managing Performance in the State Service

Managing Performance Guidelines for the Tasmanian State Service provides a point of reference for agencies reviewing their current performance management system to ensure they meet requirements of the Act and Employment Direction No. 26.

The guidelines also provide employees, including managers, with an overview of the principles of the Employment Direction, including their obligations, the process for developing and monitoring performance management plans and processes for managing underperformance.

Does performance management relate to my salary progression?

Yes. If you are a permanent or fixed-term employee covered by the Tasmanian State Service Award 2008, salary movement is based on performance and is not automatic, nor based on ‘time served’ in a role.

Salary progression, advancement assessment and accelerated advancement systems aim to support a performance culture by providing for salary movement within a classification band according to assessed performance against a performance plan.

Will there be procedures for assessing and resolving underperformance?

Processes for assessing and resolving underperformance may vary depending on agency practices, however, it is important that the processes:

  • are an integral part of a culture for supporting performance management
  • are in line with processes outlined in Employment Direction No. 26
  • have regard to procedural fairness
  • are consistent with relevant legislation including that relating to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998, record keeping and privacy.

In cases where underperformance is determined, the State Service Amendment Act (Performance) 2011 includes a specific provision in Section 44 (ca) relating to termination of employment.

Where termination of employment is a possible outcome, agencies are required to comply with Employment Direction No. 26.

What are my options for complaints processes?

In most agencies, employees have a range of options (both informal and formal) to resolve performance management grievance or dispute. The grievance and dispute resolution process is provided in Employment Direction No. 26.  

Employment Direction No. 26 supplements processes already in place in agencies and documents the procedure to resolve disputes lodged outside the agency.

How will I find out more?

Agencies may organise in-house programs to raise awareness and help employees and managers effectively participate in the performance management process.

In addition, The Training Consortium (TTC) will be offering a range of courses to support performance development, including:

  • Managing People and Performance – a two-day performance management workshop for managers and supervisors
  • an information session to help understand the operation of Employment Direction No. 26
  • a range of practical workshops to further assist managers undertake their performance management role, covering topics such as conducting difficult conversations, coaching, workplace mediation, developing performance improvement plans and conflict management
  • a workshop to help employees plan for their performance management discussion
  • a range of foundational workshops to refresh and develop core management skills, covering topics such as business planning, change management, leading teams priority and delegation management.

Responsibility for career planning rests primarily with employees and involves a process of ongoing self-assessment and future planning. Managers have a supportive mentoring role in this process and are responsible for facilitating development opportunities that help improve the capacity and sustainability of employees for the future.

Remember to look at the variety of learning and development options relative to your current role, including experience-based and education-based.

Visit The Training Consortium website for course schedules, email ttc@dpac.tas.gov.au or call 6232 7511.

How will agency performance management systems be evaluated?

Under the State Service Amendment (Performance) Act 2011, agencies are required to report on the activities and effectiveness of their performance management systems in their annual reports. Agency and employee performance has three key elements:

  • alignment of employment practices to meet government priorities, agency strategies and business/divisions/operational plans, the State Service Principles, the Code of Conduct and/or agency values
  • operation and credibility of the agency’s performance management system including: effectiveness and employee perception of the fairness, transparency and objectivity
  • integration with the agency’s overall corporate management strategy and other change management approaches (such as workforce planning, recruitment and education, training and development).