A Guide to Performance Achievement in the HSE

A Guide to Performance Achievement in the HSE
A Guide to Performance Achievement
in the
Health Service Executive
February 2016, v5a
INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................................... 3
WHY PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT? ...................................................................................................................... 4
THE PERFORMANCE ACHIEVEMENT FRAMEWORK ............................................................................................. 5
HOLDING AN EFFECTIVE PRC MEETING ............................................................................................................................. 8
SETTING GOALS .................................................................................................................................................................. 11
MANAGING UNDER-PERFORMANCE ........................................................................................................................... 13
HOW CAN I MOTIVATE MY STAFF? ............................................................................................................................................... 14
GIVING A N D R E C E I V I N G MEANINGFUL AND CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK .................................................................. 16
HOW CAN I REWARD GOOD PERFORMANCE? ......................................................................................................... 18
APPENDIX 1 – SAMPLE PERFORMANCE REVIEW FORM ................................................................................................... 19
The ambition of the HSE is to deliver the best possible care to our patients and service
users. To further that ambition we are committed to developing a workforce that is
dedicated to excellence, welcomes change and innovation, embraces leadership and
teamwork, and maintains continuous professional development and learning.1
The HSE recognizes that the health sector’s workforce is at the core of the delivery of
healthcare services2. It is therefore critical that we enable a full and effective contribution
from our staff to further our ambition and to facilitate their continuing learning and high
Managers and leaders within the HSE have a key responsibility to facilitate and enable high
performance through engaging with staff in a facilitative and supportive manner on
organizational goals and staff development. This involves a culture change in line with our
People Strategy3 in focusing on how we lead, manage and develop the contribution of all staff
in an environment that is conducive to learning and wellbeing. Establishing standards,
agreeing on what is to be done, by whom and by when, raising skills and competency levels
and openly communicating with our staff are key to enabling individuals and teams to take
responsibility for continuous improvement of service delivery and of their own skills,
behaviours and contributions.
Our staff have a right to know what it is that is expected of them and to participate and
collaborate in developing appropriate team and personal goals so as to enable them to be
motivated to perform to their potential and deliver on the HSE ambition. This requires a
continuous and flexible approach that encourages regular and constructive dialogue and
feedback and that supports staff to develop the skills and competencies for success in their
work and in their career development.
It is the policy of the HSE ‘to implement, maintain and monitor a Performance Achievement
System that develops the capacity and capability of its employees, improves the performance
of the organization and addresses underperformance in a timely and constructive manner’.
This guide, which summarizes the approach to performance achievement in the HSE and
complements the main guidance document already agreed, aims to support those with
management responsibility for others to take full responsibility for enabling the best
possible performance from staff reporting to them so that they can be confident, consistent
and fair in their performance and development discussions with their staff. The Performance
Achievement system reflects international trends and best practice. 4
Health Service Executive Corporate Plan 2015-2017 Building a high quality health service for a healthier Ireland
Health Service Executive National Service Plan 2016
Health Services People Strategy 2015-2018 Leaders in People Services Health Service Executive
Deloitte – Global Human Capital Trends 2015 Leading in the new world of work
Why Performance Achievement?
Performance Achievement (PA) is the process used by leading organizations internationally to translate
strategic plans into action. It enables them to set goals, monitor performance and provide feedback
throughout the performance review cycle and to develop staff competencies and capabilities. It was
introduced under the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 and its roll-out is a requirement under the
Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (Haddington Road) and the Public Service Stability
Agreement 2013-2018 (Lansdowne Road).
PA is a systemic approach to the management of, and engagement with, our workforce. It is the means
by which managers and staff can engage to
achieve the ambition of the HSE to deliver services of the highest quality in line with best practice
attract, retain and develop our workforce and promote the HSE as an employer of choice
enable effective and efficient management
support staff to give of their best, be successful in their endeavours and develop their skills and careers within
the health service
The HSE requires managers to facilitate staff to deliver high performance. While this guide is
primarily concerned with the Performance Review Cycle, the PA Framework involves a number of
elements in the Performance Achievement Chain that can impact on performance and provide
the context within which performance and development discussions can be fruitful. Managers
need to be aware of these and to attend to them in their management role.
These are:
 Recruitment
 Induction
 Probation
 Performance Review Cycle
 Development
 Reward Mechanisms
 Skills and Capability Standards
 Disciplinary and Capability Procedures
These are discussed in more detail in the following pages.
The Performance Achievement Framework
Performance does not exist in a vacuum. For successful performance, managers need to attend to a
range of interconnected issues that provide the context and conditions for success. Failure to attend to
these can result in less than optimal performance and can have adverse consequences for the service
and the individual.
Recruitment – successful recruiting begins with being clear on the job to be done, the skills and
competencies required for effective performance and the characteristics of the person to ensure a good
person-job fit so that the right person is attracted to the position in the first instance. These should be
set out in a job description and person specification. Failure to give sufficient attention to these matters
may result in a less than optimal recruitment process and outcome.
Induction – it is critical that the new appointee is oriented to the job and the service in line with the HSE
induction process and that they receive a positive impression of the HSE in those formative weeks on
first taking up duty. Induction will take a number of forms, including completion of the online induction
programme, but more importantly, completing a dedicated induction programme at local level. In
addition to imparting information to the new staff member, it provides the opportunity to discuss the
requirements of the position with the new staff member and to identify their future development
needs. Induction is the first step in enabling the individual to achieve their full potential and a successful
induction process can contribute to the goal of staff retention. Failing to properly induct the new staff
member can result in delays in their becoming effective in their role at best, and at worst, they may
leave the organization. This has costly implications in terms of service provision and the recruitment
Further details on Induction can be found on www.hseland.ie
Probation – new staff to the HSE are recruited following a selection process in line with the requirements
of code of practice on appointment to positions within the public service5 and may be required to serve
a period of probation. The objective of the probation is to allow an opportunity to monitor the new staff
member’s performance in the job and to establish if they are suitable for continued employment. The
new staff member should be supported in this period to be successful, with regular and appropriate
feedback and training being provided to enable them to achieve optimal performance levels. Good
records should be kept by the manager to enable them to make an informed and timely decision to
confirm the appointment or, where, despite the provision of support and guidance, it is clear that the
new staff member is not going to achieve the required standard of performance, to terminate the
employment. HR should be consulted before the latter decision is taken. Failure to properly manage
the probation period can cause significant problems for all concerned.
Performance Review Cycle (PRC) – The PRC is at the heart of the PA system and it is a process that requires
participation, respect, and frequent honest discussion and feedback on issues like role, responsibilities, objectives,
resources, risks to success, performance and development goals. It provides agreement on, and a record of,
Commission for Public Service Appointments Code of Practice – Appointments to positions in the civil service and
public service
performance objectives and expectations, including development. It also informs local and strategic
staff development planning. It must be carried out on a regular and consistent basis and includes 3 key
meetings between a manager andhis/ herdirectreport(s) aspartofthecycle.
Further details on the performance review cycle can be found on
www.hseland.ie and also
Personal Development – Personal development planning is a continuous development process that
enables people to make the best use of their skills and helps advance both the individual’s plans and
the strategic goals of the organization. It is integral to the PRC discussion and reflects the emphasis
on development in service provision, service quality and personal and professional development.
Personal development planning is a form of self-managed learning that enables a strategic
approach whereby we can keep abreast of changes, broaden our skills and be more effective in
our work. It is an open and transparent approach to development that provides a rational and
coherent means for allocating scarce resources. While it is a form of self-managed learning, there is a
responsibility on managers to ensure that, in so far as is possible, staff are provided with the
opportunities to grow and learn within the HSE.
Performance Achievement Framework
Performance Review
and Recognition
Achievement Framework
Skills and Capability
Disciplinary and
Capability Procedures
Recruitment and
Reward Mechanisms – the HSE aims to offer a competitive base salary structure in line with public pay
policy and attractive career development opportunities for staff. Managers should be
imaginative in identifying means to reward and acknowledge good performance, such as
considering means to broaden and deepen the experience of staff to facilitate their career
Skills and Capability Standards – identifying the skills and capability standards for a position are the starting
point for both an effective job design and for specifying the type of person required for the role, thereby
increasing the likelihood of their success when appointed. They inform job descriptions and person
specifications in recruitment and induction discussions. They provide clarity on the standards of
performance that apply throughout the period of employment and inform the assessment in
probation and performance reviews. They provide a framework for identifying and addressing
training and development needs.
Disciplinary and Capability Procedures – the performance achievement system provides a mechanism for a
transparent management of underperformance through the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP),
which is a time bound process designed to address in a formal manner a performance issue. This is a
process that should be implemented as required to address performance issues that are not being
improved through normal formative feedback. This process is designed to be managed within a
department or unit between the two parties involved. It requires constructive discussions between a
manager and their direct report where performance problems are identified. It should be noted that
the PIP is not a disciplinary procedure. However, if performance does not improve following the use
of the PIP, consideration should then be given to moving to other corrective or supportive HR
processes, e.g. EAP, Occupational Health, Disciplinary Process, etc.
Holding an effective PRC meeting
Formal meetings take place three time during the year between the manager and their direct
reports, with regular and ongoing engagement taking place between the formal meetings. Below
are some good practice tips for ensuring an effective meeting.
Prepare yourself and the staff member
Schedule ample time and a private place for the discussion
Give the staff member ample notice of the date, time and venue for the meeting
Review appropriate documentation (Service/Business Plans, service strategies, job
description/role profile etc.), taking into account goals set by the Senior Management
Team, and ensure that the staff member does likewise
Refer to the guidelines on Giving and Receiving Feedback
Appreciate that Performance Achievement is a key management responsibility and a service
to your staff
Make it a priority-time
Have an agenda for the meeting
Ensure that interruptions are eliminated or at least minimised
Set a tone of collaboration
Start the discussion on a positive note and aim to put the staff member at their ease
Encourage the staff member to fully participate in the goal-setting and review process
Be positive
Keep the meeting conversational and encourage the staff member to be open in the
Be clear on your purpose
Outline the purpose and benefits of the PA system
Meeting will address performance goals for the year ahead and also development needs
identified and agreed and review progress thus far
The focus of the PA discussion is forward-looking and developmental
Review and agree performance expectations
Discuss the job description/role profile to clarify scope
Identify, discuss and agree goals
Be clear about important behaviours and activities that critically affect performance, using
clear and precise language and giving specific examples
Discuss and agree standards of behaviours required
Advise staff member that they should notify you without delay if they experience difficulties
in achieving the goals agreed, both task and development
In the interim and final meeting review progress and identify areas that may have impacted
positively and negatively on performance to inform further progress
Be constructive, focused and honest in giving feedback and seek feedback from the staff
Discuss performance that is below, meets, and exceeds expectations
Use language that is clear and specific; use specific examples
Describe the performance, not personality
Review and agree development needs
Identify and agree the essential knowledge, skills and behaviours required of the staff
member in the current position and options to close any gaps
Discuss career aspirations of the staff member and identify career planning issues and
development requirements to address those aspirations.
Options to consider include:
o On the job learning
 Shadowing a more experienced manager
 Rotation
 Secondments
 Projects
o Self-directed learning (such as reading journals, accessing the Learning Centre at
www.hseland.ie, keeping a learning log etc.)
o Peer support (e.g. action learning sets)
o Formal development programmes
o Skills coaching by you, the manager
o More regular meetings between you and the staff member
o Executive (external) coaching
o Mentoring by an off-line senior manager
o Mandatory training, e.g. health and safety
o Team development
o Study visits and workshops
o Public forums
o Further and higher education
o Seeking mobility
Personal Development Planning process, and learning tools and resources, available online
at www.hseland.ie
Document any agreement by completing the PA template form or other local
documentation .
Ask staff member what he/she thinks
Allow the staff member to speak freely, without interruption, before responding to his/her
Actively listen to what is being said
Clarify any concerns the staff member may have and then address them
Agree actions to:
Improve performance in the goals agreed
Build on strengths
Develop the staff member’s knowledge, skills and abilities
Actively promote and follow up on any developmental support agreed (see options list
Align the work of the staff member with that of the team, department and organization
Complete documentation
Complete documentation (provided templates or other local documentation) to record
agreed goals
Complete PDP.
Both parties sign documents and each retain a copy.
Agree follow-up arrangements
Schedule review meetings
Agree process for ongoing review and dialogue
Close with encouragement
Offer your help and support
End on a positive note by summarizing the strengths and contribution of the staff member
Setting Goals
Goals provide the focus for action and set out what is to be achieved. The discussion within the PRC
provides the opportunity for managers and their staff to agree on what is to be achieved and to
adopt the strategy they are going to use in pursuit of the goals.
A goal or objective may be defined as “something which has to be accomplished, either as a point to
be aimed at (a target), a plan or a project to be implemented or completed, a standard of
performance to be achieved and maintained, personal development objectives to be achieved, or
values to be maintained.”
Characteristics of a Good Goal.
The SMART criteria may be used to define a good objective:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time related
For a goal to be Specific it must articulate in precise form what is to be achieved within a definite
timeframe. It must be clear and understandable and the individual must know what is required of
them and what their accountability to the achievement of the goal is.
A goal cannot be specific unless it is also Measurable. There are several types of measurement systems
including the following:
 Impact measures – e.g. completion of a project, number of clients availing of a service.
 Reaction measures – e.g. satisfaction survey of clients/customers.
 Time measures – e.g. meeting deadlines, clearing waiting list backlog, response times.
 Quality measures – e.g. quality assurance reports.
 Financial measures – e.g. income and expenditure.
Measurement techniques should meet the following criteria:  Measures should focus on results
 Individuals and teams must have control over the achievement of the goals
 Measures should be objective and observable
 Individuals and teams must have access to relevant data
 Existing measures should be used or adapted wherever possible
A measurable goal must also be Achievable. This needs to take into account the resources available,
both human and financial, and the options that may be considered for raising standards providing a
degree of stretch in performance.
Goals may be challenging but for them to be achievable they need to be Realistic. They need to
contribute to the achievement of organizational goals as well as being aimed at developing
individuals and giving them a real sense of achievement. Realistic goals are those that are within the
control and capability of the individual and in line with available resources.
It may be necessary to amend goals during the year due to circumstances outside of the direct
control of the individual. This flexibility is important. External factors may change one of the agreed
priorities, rendering the original goals unobtainable during the performance review period in
question. It is important, however, that goals are not amended unless absolutely necessary as this
would discredit the process. The manager and staff member, in these circumstances, should consider
what other actions may need to be taken to overcome the difficulty rather than to change direction
in the first instance.
The goals agreed need to be Time Related. Goals should be completed within an agreed time scale.
The expected time lines should be specified in the Performance Review Form. At the start of the year
the goals for the year are specified and broken down into a timeline for achievement throughout the
year. This will allow a focus on those aspects of the goal relevant to the time period of the review
and will enable an early detection of deviation from the agreed timeline for the achievement of the
overall goal.
Managing Under-Performance
Underperformance is an ongoing failure to meet the standards of performance or behaviour
reasonably expected from an employee at the level at which they are employed. It is a measure of
reasonable expectancy in terms of employee contribution, effort and achievement that are the
required standard for the role and level within the organization. It is consistent deviation from
standards associated with the role and grade.
Single incidents or very short periods of poor performance which are out of character for an individual
do not fall into the category of underperformance and should be addressed through normal formative
feedback and monitored to ensure that they are exceptional occurrences. Should these incidents
develop into a trend then the individual’s behaviour should be addressed using the process under the
Performance Improvement Plan.
Unchecked underperformance impacts negatively the individual concerned, on the morale of fellow
employees, the efficiency of the service and is a risk to service users. When underperformance is not
addressed the performance of effective employees is liable to deteriorate and public monies are
Early identification and management of underperformance is of benefit to the employee concerned
and their colleagues. When left unchecked the problem may intensify and is more difficult to address
and correct as the underperformer may come to believe that they are performing to the acceptable
There is significant input required from the manager to identify and address underperformance. While
some managers may feel uncomfortable in addressing underperformance they must realize that by
accepting low standards of performance they are licensing low standards of performance throughout
the service they manage. When underperformance is addressed in a constructive and professional
manner it can result in performance improvements in both the individual and team. Research has
shown that early intervention is the best way once the difficulties have been identified.
In addressing underperformance managers should:
 explore the reasons with the staff member – is the cause within the control of the
individual, has something happened that may be affecting how they are performing? Don’t
assume, rather explore and discuss.
 determine if some support is required.
 be clear on what is expected from the staff member and what can be put in place to
support them.
 be very clear on what actions need to happen and by when, and the standards required.
 be clear on how progress will be reviewed and set dates for reviews.
 document discussions.
If the problem continues despite the PIP then it may be necessary to engage in other processes.
How Can I Motivate my Staff?
People join the HSE wanting to deliver the best possible service in their area of work and to
develop a career within the health services. There is a responsibility on managers to ensure to
the extent that they can that these aspirations are met and that staff are supported to do well
and to succeed.
The Employee Survey highlighted a number of areas that can be addressed by managers to
motivate and engage their staff.6 Various studies internationally highlight the role of the
manager and the findings are consistent with the issues identified in the Employee Survey.
Studies by the Institute for Employment Studies, for example, show the following:
To motivate staff, then, mangers need to show staff that they are valued, by:
Being available to discuss their work with them, being clear on expectations, listening to
Have Your Say – The Health Services Employee Survey, 2015.
them and by giving regular feedback to them on their performance.
Being open and creating a positive atmosphere
Recognizing and acknowledging their successes
Supporting them in their development and providing opportunities for them to grow
Staff respond to having meaningful work, having scope to work in their own style, understanding the
impact of their work and feeling capable of achieving their goals. Managers can support each of these
to energize and motivate their staff.
Managers need to think about whether their management style contributes to, or reduces, the
motivation of their staff. The consequences of either are significant for the quality of service delivered
to our clients.
Giving a nd R ec e i v i ng Meaningful and Constructive Feedback
Feedback is at the heart of effective communications. Feedback may be used to strengthen a
behaviour that is considered to be positive as well as to change a
behaviour that is considered to be negative. Managers and Team
Leaders have a responsibility to create an environment where giving
and receiving feedback is considered the norm. Feedback provides a
way for people to learn how they affect the world around them, and it
helps them to operate more effectively within teams.
Giving feedback is based on fact and not subjective judgement. Where
evidence shows that something has gone wrong, corrective action may
be taken. Alternatively, where evidence shows that something is
working well, action may be taken to make the best use of the
opportunities the feedback has revealed. Where feedback is used to
recognize achievement this can act as a powerful motivating factor.
To give effective feedback you need to be tuned in, sensitive to the
person and the situation, and honest. How you give feedback can be
just as important as what feedback you give.
The importance of feedback as a process for enhancing performance
cannot be overestimated as feedback has a positive effect on
individual, group and organizational performance. The lessons from
studies on feedback conclude that:
as individuals we like to know how we are performing
seeking, giving and receiving feedback are integral to building and maintaining healthy
professional working relationships
to be effective feedback must be an ongoing activity
the proactive and positive use of feedback is core to good management
seeking, giving and receiving feedback can be improved by practice
The Employee Survey findings show that staff want the opportunity to discuss their work and to
receive regular and supportive feedback.
Giving Feedback
Adopt an appropriate style (supportive, direct, sensitive, descriptive, helpful etc).
Be descriptive, not prescriptive.
Be objective, not subjective.
Be clear and avoid labels that are ambiguous, such as ‘unprofessional’.
Be exact in the words you use to describe the behaviour or issue. Avoid words such as
‘never’ or ‘always’ as they may represent an exaggeration of the issue and thereby invite a
defensive response from the receiver.
Avoid using judgemental language to guard against moving from constructive comment to
prescriptive comment.
Avoid giving feedback when angry.
Make sure that the other party is ready to receive the feedback.
Speak for yourself in giving feedback and avoid ascribing the feedback to others not
present – own it.
Direct the feedback at behaviours that are within the power of the receiver to change.
Use “I” statements to describe how the behaviour is affecting you.
Give timely feedback – feedback delayed is feedback denied.
Model the way – ask for feedback on your feedback.
Feedback is most effective when it is timely.
Adopting an open and ongoing approach to discussing goals and performance is more
likely to result in staff raising issues themselves.
Receiving Feedback
While there is an art to giving feedback, there is an art to accepting it as well. The giving and receiving
of feedback is an important communication tool that fosters healthy and effective working
Adopt an appropriate style to be receptive to the feedback (open, respectful, thoughtful
Feedback is rare. Encourage it and when it is offered you should accept it and value it.
Be open.
Listen carefully and actively to what is being said
and do not interrupt the speaker – remember that
rearranging the letters in the word ‘listen’ spells
Do not be defensive.
Clarify your understanding by seeking examples of
the behaviour at issue and by summarizing your
understanding of what the speaker is saying, and
then check for any misunderstandings.
Acknowledge the right of the speaker to give
View feedback as a chance to find out how to improve your performance.
Feedback sessions can be viewed as a learning opportunity.
Be aware of your breathing. Receiving feedback can be uncomfortable and stressful, so
remember to breathe. This will help you to stay relaxed and alert.
You, as receiver, determine what it is you will take from the feedback and how you will
use it to change any behaviours that might warrant attention. Take time to consider what
has been said, particularly if it is something that might otherwise elicit a defensive
response if you react immediately.
How Can I Reward Good Performance?
We should remember that employment is a mutually beneficial process where individuals develop skills
and perform a particular role for the organization, and in return they are rewarded through their salary
and other benefits. In addition there are a range of non-financial rewards that managers can offer to
acknowledge excellent performance, such as opportunities to gain wider experience that will help the
individual to grow and to prepare them for advancement within the HSE. In addition the HSE supports
development through access to training and development programmes and support for further
education in certain circumstances. Adopting a broad view, there are many ways in which good
performance by staff can be acknowledged.
Appendix 1 – Sample Performance Review Form
Section 1: LINE MANAGER SECTION (to be completed by Manager and agreed with individual)
Overall Goals:
Section 2: INDIVIDUAL SECTION (To be completed by Individual and agreed with Line Manager)
Key Objectives
Training / Development Agreed Action
Continuous Professional Development Objectives
Signature Line Manager:
Ref. PM COR RM 2015
Signature Individual:
Delivery date
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