Case studies

Building a constructive culture through feedback, collaboration and performance management

Feedback for managers to improve their leadership

As a part of our strategic focus on constructive leadership, in 2015–16 our ‘100 Day Leaders’ were tasked with delivering a process for people managers to receive upward feedback. After extensive consultation, it was decided that face-to-face, group sessions and online surveys were the most suitable channels for managers to receive feedback from their staff.

Each group of ‘100 Day Leaders’ achieved the following in four stages:

  • Group one – conducted a survey to identify what opportunities and challenges there are around implementing upward feedback
  • Group two – used the information to identify tools that should be used to receive upward feedback either face-to-face, group or via an anonymous online survey
  • Group three – piloted the three tools using the ‘stop, start, continue, change’ model to provide actionable steps to make improvements
  • Group four – implemented the tool by asking people managers to encourage their staff to give upward feedback using their preferred option.

The upward feedback model was then evaluated across the organisation with the results of each stage presented to the Office Executive. The feedback given to managers will be used to develop action plans on improving the constructive leadership capability of our management team.

Collaborative process for negotiating the new Award

Changes to the conditions of employment for Audit Office staff employed under the Crown Employees (Audit Office) Award 2015 were negotiated in 2015–16. To assist this process, an Award Negotiation Committee (ANC) was established comprising management and Public Sector Association (PSA) representatives.

The ANC agreed to adopt the principles of cooperative negotiation to reach agreement on changes to employment conditions. All agreements reached by the ANC were made after consultation with all affected employees, the Auditor-General, the PSA and other persons or organisations affected by the ANC’s recommendations.

Regular communication bulletins were published throughout the course of the negotiations to keep employees informed on progress. A two-week consultation period with drop-in sessions was attended by both management and PSA representatives, allowing staff to ask questions on the proposed changes. Staff were given the opportunity to provide feedback, which was considered and resulted in some adjustments to the Award. PSA members voted to support the Award and it was agreed to by the Industrial Relations Commission in June 2016.

The Award negotiation process was successful due to the collaborative efforts of everyone involved and the Audit Office is pleased to have a new industrial instrument to move the organisation forward.

Improving our performance management framework

The performance, behaviour and conduct of the Audit Office’s employees are integral to organisational success. The Audit Office promotes a transparent and consistent performance management approach that aligns personal goals and individual development with the Audit Office’s strategy and vision. The approach to performance centres on employees and managers sharing responsibility for open two-way communication and feedback.

Employees and managers are encouraged to have open and honest communication to:

  • set clear expectations of how their agreed responsibilities should be achieved
  • provide regular and constructive two-way feedback
  • ensure there are no surprises at remuneration review time.

The process helps employees understand what is expected of them, and encourages regular dialogue between staff and their managers. Managers and employees both have a joint responsibility for improving performance and are expected to contribute to successful performance outcomes that are facilitated in a fair, effective and improvement-focused manner.

To support our new performance management framework, a new Human Capital Management System called ‘MiCareer’ was launched in July 2015. This system has a performance management module which has given the Audit Office a modern, easy-to-use tool for managing performance and has made documenting performance agreements much easier.

The performance agreement is a mutual agreement between a manager and employee that defines expectations on ‘what’ needs to be achieved and ‘how’ it should be achieved. It is also an essential requirement of the NSW Public Service Commission’s Performance and Capability Framework.

Each of the branches developed performance measures that assisted with setting individual objectives aligned to our strategic goals. Members of the Leadership Team delivered performance agreement training for all staff in order to ensure everyone was able to hold constructive performance conversations and develop effective performance agreements. Further training was provided to help understand the mid-year review process.

One hundred per cent of our staff had performance agreements in place in 2015–16. It has also led to more constructive conversations between staff and managers, and a better understanding of performance expectations and how to meet them.