The Office of Personnel Management by January hopes to roll out a new, standardized system of assessing and selecting supervisory candidates.
OPM’s Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer Mark Reinhold told the National Council on Federal Labor-Management Relations on Wednesday that OPM reviewed its management selection process as part of a new performance management plan.
“We’ve found, historically, a lot of inconsistency in the way that we assessed candidates for supervisory positions,” Reinhold said.
OPM has sometimes focused on the technical competencies of supervisory candidates, and largely ignored their managerial skills, he said. Management experts agree that choosing new supervisors based simply on their technical skills can be a mistake, because those candidates may not know how to most effectively manage subordinates.
OPM is working on a uniform set of competencies that standardizes how supervisory and technical skills are weighted, though the proportions have not been finalized. Reinhold said OPM is holding focus groups with supervisors to find that right balance, and hopes to submit the findings to OPM Director John Berry soon.
Reinhold also said OPM is working on a structured interview process to verify whether supervisory candidates have the right skills.
OPM is one of five agencies pilot-testing the so-called GEAR performance management model — for goals, engagement, accountability and results — which calls for improving how agencies select their supervisors. OPM’s experiment with a new assessment process for supervisor candidates could be adopted at other agencies if it works.
Reinhold also said OPM’s managers are holding quarterly progress reviews with employees — another component of GEAR. Two such quarterly reviews have been held so far.
They are a good tool for “pulse checking” — making sure an employee is on track to meet his requirements for a career-ladder promotion or to accomplish all his required tasks by the end of the year, Reinhold said. If an employee is having performance problems, he said, a quarterly review is a good time to identify them and put him back on track.