In 2010, the President’s Management Council started a working group to explore ways to improve SES performance evaluation, and ultimately recommended a new standardized system. In 2011, top Office of Personnel Management (OPM) leadership stated that the challenging financial environment and other issues were placing a strain on the SES workforce.
Consequently, OPM has released a new performance management system for the SES. The new measurements are designed to improve the evaluation process through a standardized framework to not only communicate performance expectations, but also evaluate performance.
That framework integrates the five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs) used to assess potential SES employees during the application process. The five core competencies are: Leading Change, Leading People, Results Driven, Business Acumen, and Building Coalitions.
Although SES employees have always been expected to provide executive leadership and oversight, the new emphasis on the ECQs in performance measurement places a sharper emphasis on individual results. In the new framework, senior executives will be assessed in their official performance evaluations in each of the five ECQ areas (on a scale of one to five).
Any executive who receives a final rating of “unsatisfactory” will be removed or reassigned. The same thing applies to any executives who receive two ratings at less than Level 3 within three years, or two Level 1 ratings within five years.
In Fiscal Year 2010, more than one-third of all SES members received the highest possible rating on their performance evaluations. It will be interesting to see how these new performance measures will affect those metrics. In the meantime, the importance of the ECQs in general will become even more prominent.
Think about it: Those applying for an SES position already have to provide well-written examples of their career accomplishments in each of the 5 ECQs while incorporating 28 competencies throughout. It was seen as almost a rite of passage, which it was.
But now, the ECQs won’t just be the way you describe your experience when applying for the SES; they will be the very cornerstone on which your ongoing performance (and job security?) is assessed and recorded in your official records.
The SES requires a dynamic balance of leadership, strategic thinking, and specialized experience. To enter the SES, your ECQs must demonstrate that you have the right balance, and they must show results. I predict that integrating the ECQs into the new SES performance measurement system will put a sharper focus on results across the SES in years to come, and that can only be a good thing.
Perhaps the collective standard of the SES has been raised a bit—or perhaps a lot. Only time will tell.
You can find job-winning, OPM-approved samples of SES application packages in our book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service. Get your copy today by clicking on this link or searching the title on Amazon.
Barbara Adams is the President and CEO of CareerPro Global, Inc. (CPG). She has been on the leading edge of SES application development for decades. Committed to providing world-class service, she has also built an SES writing team that has assisted more than 2,500 clients develop their application materials. Ms. Adams has been featured on TV and radio and as a presenter at numerous career conferences. CPG recently sent a team to instruct senior officials at Warner Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, in best practices for developing their SES application materials. She is the co-author of the new book, Roadmap to the Senior Executive Service: How to Find SES Jobs, Determine Your Qualifications, and Develop Your SES Application.