Performance
February 19, 2013

Conversations and coaching: A new approach to performance management

The British Columbia Public Service has taken significant steps to implement a new and innovative performance management model for our employees. The new approach, called MyPerformance, is a comprehensive model that includes a strong focus on supporting the relationship between supervisors and employees through conversation and coaching.

MyPerformance intentionally takes the focus away from merely completing an annual performance appraisal form and places it on the ongoing performance conversations that actually drive and motivate employee performance. Not surprisingly, our motto is, “It’s about the conversations.”

The new approach was born out of a year-long, multi-faceted research and consultation project on performance management. We began by looking at best practices being modelled by worldclass organizations around the globe to form our research base. We also consulted with our employees to find out what they thought about our existing performance management model and tool – what was working and what needed improving.

The combined international research and feedback from over 2000 employees led to B.C.’s innovative performance management model; it is an approach that was largely forged for our employees, by our employees.

Key elements of the model include supports such as training and development, a streamlined tool called MyPerformance Profile, flexible cycles, employee recognition, and a new descriptive rating scale. The name MyPerformance itself recognizes that while executives must lead by example and support the approach, employees must own and engage with their personal performance.

Among the most leading-edge best practices was the use of coaching to increase engagement and performance. We responded with the creation of our own internal coaching service and a plan to support a shift to a coaching culture. We are very proud of our new performance coaching service, which is staffed by employees who have been internally trained and certified. Having internal coaches was important because we wanted the team to be familiar with the public service context to ensure they could respond to the needs of our employees and to work effectively within our current systems.

Our confidential coaching services are available to all B.C. public service employees across the province in both face-to-face and virtual sessions to meet the varying needs of staff. We created this business model to incorporate a virtual approach to make the services accessible to all employees.

Our coaching services align with common themes such as leadership development, working with and inspiring direct reports, career coaching and more. Individual coaching can take many different forms, is voluntary in nature, and works directly with the goals of the client. We have also developed a strong team coaching service to support team development, team dynamics and improving communications.

Introducing performance coaching as a business strategy and as a human resource service was a calculated risk during times of fiscal restraint in the public sector. To be successful, we deliberately invested time, effort and resources to build a robust coaching service with a full suite of individual, team and specialized coaching services. To support, develop and promote this investment in coaching, we have taken a number of key steps over the past eighteen months, including:

• Launching a new central Performance Management Branch dedicated to providing and administering the client services;
• Coaching over 1000 employees to date;
• Creating a specialized B.C. Public Service coaching certification process;
• Developing a Coaching Approach to Conversations course and graduating over 1000 supervisors and employees to date;
• Introducing complementary training such as Fierce Conversations to the BC Public Service Agency leadership team;
• Partnering with ministries to develop customized coaching initiatives that fit their unique needs; and
• Supporting a grassroots coaching community of practice for employees.

The introduction of the new MyPerformance model to the B.C. Public Service has been a bold and beneficial move as we transition toward a high performance culture of trusted feedback. We invested time to research international leading best practices; we invested time to consult with our employees; and we invested the necessary resources to support a world class model that would meet our changing needs as a public service employer in the 21st century.

We are proud of our accomplishments and for the recognition we recently received when we were nominated for a 2012 International Coaching Federation PRISM Award.

Lynda Tarras is head of the British Columbia Public Service Agency.

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