Recently, Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced a new Directive on Performance Management. The Directive calls for the standardization of regular performance reviews across the federal Public Service in order to recognize excellent performance and to better manage unsatisfactory performers.

Any measure designed to strengthen the accountability and improve performance within the Public Service is to the benefit of ACFO, the FI Community, and ultimately Canadian taxpayers.

However, this new Directive was produced without consultation with stakeholder groups; and in truth it will have little change for Financial Officers. Most, if not all of our members already participate in regular performance evaluations.

Performance appraisals can be an excellent mechanism for employees to discuss workplace issues, along with their professional development and career objectives. They also allow for deficiencies to be identified and addressed.

ACFO will continue to provide assistance to members who have legitimate issues regarding their manager’s assessment, and support FIs who are being subjected unfairly to negative performance reviews and unfair sanctions. Where legitimate performance concerns are raised, ACFO will continue to work with our member and management to ensure every FI is given the opportunity and support to improve.

It is regrettable that the government has chosen to frame the discussions regarding this new Directive as getting tough on underperformers. The reality is that despite the current climate, the Public Service (and in particular the FI group) is made up of professionals dedicated to delivering excellent service to Canadians. The focus of performance management must be to maximize the potential of the many outstanding Public Servants, including those who make up the FI Community.

At the end of the day, managers are responsible for the performance of their employees. It falls on their shoulders to properly communicate expectations, to provide support and opportunity for underperforming staff to correct their performance, and to employ appropriate measures if that performance does not improve in a timely manner.

With better training and support from the Employer’s executive leadership and human resource professionals, this performance management initiative can help managers assist employees to achieve excellence; and identify and correct unsatisfactory performance.

It is in no one’s best interest to recruit and retain anything less than the best and brightest minds to uphold excellence in Canada’s financial management control framework.