OPM chief calls for new performance review system

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry on Wednesday said he wants to improve the government's personnel evaluation system by developing more specific performance standards and offering employees more frequent feedback.

"I believe strongly the path to best results at the lowest cost is to build that type of high performance culture inside government, through a new performance management system. One that unleashes our employees' creativity and productivity," Berry said in prepared remarks during the Interagency Resource Management Conference at Gallaudet University in Washington.

The four pillars of performance management -- standards, reviews, ratings and awards -- have "dehumanized management to a degree that we can no longer ignore," he said. Calling the government's current personnel performance reviews "infrequent and rote," Berry said the formal review process "seems to take place in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, where everyone is above average."

Immediate feedback for all employees coupled with simpler performance standards is key to boosting productivity and tapping into individuals' creativity, Berry said. While incentives like spot award are important, Berry argued that high performers will be even more inspired by public recognition and the opportunity to innovate. "Cash shouldn't be the default award."

Berry also had a message for poor performers. "For that very small group of employees who make the rest of us look bad, we need a clear, appropriate rating, and a consistent organizational commitment to get rid of them quickly, but fairly."

Improving the performance management system is the focus of a new working group within the Chief Human Capital Officers' Council, Berry said, adding that OPM and the CHCOs will collaborate with the National Council on Federal Labor-Management on devising a new process.

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