OPM better defines leadership development roadmap

Wednesday - 12/26/2012, 3:29pm EST

Jason Milller, Executive Editor, Federal News Radio

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Federal employees aspiring to become senior level managers now have a more definitive roadmap to follow.

The Office of Personnel Management just released the Federal Supervisory Training Framework.

Working with the Chief Learning Officer's Council, OPM builds upon the statutory and regulatory requirements for manager training.

"The framework and guidance outlines mandatory and recommended training for aspiring leaders, along with current and newly appointed supervisors and managers, and incorporates key training recommendations outlined in the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations 'Report to the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations—Getting in G.E.A.R. for Employee Performance Management,'" wrote Angela Bailey, OPM's associate director for employee services, in a memo to agency human resources directors. "The framework also includes important objectives outlined in the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010, as well as critical leadership competencies and technical HR knowledge needed to succeed as a supervisor."

The framework details three levels of the competencies:

  • Aspiring leader or team leader--This area lists five competencies such as problem solving or team building, and six fundamental leadership competencies, such as oral and written communication and integrity and honesty.

  • New supervisor--This is for managers with three months or less on the job. There are three levels of competencies: HR related technical skills such as understanding prohibited personnel practices; Recruitment and retention, which includes skills such as knowing the merit system principles; Performance management, which includes skills such as mentoring employees or conducting appraisals.

  • Supervisors in their first year--This category expands those areas under the new supervisor category to expand the three overarching skill sets to five. The new ones are talent management, and organizational performance management.
OPM has been focusing on leadership development for the last few years with several initiatives to try to keep the pipeline of leaders flowing.

Steve Shih, OPM's deputy associate director of executive resources and employee development, said with resources continuing to be constrained, it will be imperative for senior leaders to support leadership development programs in agencies.

"Some of the current developments we are looking at is really identifying leaders before the executive level and promoting their development in preparation for entry and success in the Senior Executive Service ranks," said Shih during an interview after a recent conference. "One of the areas that's also going to be important is really giving people the motivation and empowerment to innovate and to ensure they have a diversity of experience through collaboration and mobility throughout government."

SES programs taking hold

OPM and the President's Management Council worked together to create a SES mobility program over the last two years.

Shih said the career rotations program is for aspiring leaders and individuals at GS 13-15 grades.

"It has the participation of multiple agencies where there are exchanges of talent and individuals who go through a competitive process based on merit are selected and then participate in this program and engage in six-month rotations in different agencies. This gives them an opportunity to really develop diverse experiences and knowledge and also gives them the ability to build networks where they can further collaborate with partners across government."

Two other leadership focused programs OPM is leading are making SES onboarding easier, and developing standard performance metrics for supervisors.

Shih said four agencies implemented the new SES onboarding program in 2011.

"One of the keys to executive success is once we have recruited and brought them in is to help them to succeed immediately," he said. "Right now, agencies are implementing that and tailoring it based upon their own specific organizational needs, cultures and resources. We continue to provide support to agencies who are interested in using the framework and encouraging others to use it well."

Performance metrics being adopted

Shih said agencies also are making good progress in implementing the new SES performance management metrics.

He said OPM initiated in January the use of the common framework to communicate, to evaluate and to recognize individuals at the SES level across the entire federal government in a much more consistent, coordinated, equitable and transferrable way.

"I'm very pleased to say even in fiscal year 2012 in the middle of the performance period, we were able to get about a dozen federal agencies to implement the system," he said. "In 2013, we expect that by end of the year, 64 percent of the federal agencies to have adopted this new system. In fact, we've already approved 50 percent of the agencies across the government to use this system. I'm very pleased to report by the end of 2014 we expect 94 percent of the federal agencies will be using this common system," Shih said.