Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives

The directive explains the responsibilities of heads of human resources and managers for effective performance management and talent management of executives across the core public administration. The directive includes standards for performance agreements, learning and development plans, mid-year performance reviews, performance assessments and talent assessments.
Date modified: 2020-04-01

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1. Effective date

  • 1.1This directive takes effect on April 1, 2020.
  • 1.2This directive replaces the Directive on the Performance Management Program (PMP) for Executives dated July 16, 2007. 

2. Authorities

  • 2.1This directive is issued pursuant to the same authorities indicated in section 2 of the Policy on the Management of Executives.

3. Objective and expected results

  • 3.1The objective indicated in section 3 of the Policy on the Management of Executives applies to this directive.
  • 3.2The expected results indicated in section 3 of the Policy on the Management of Executives apply to this directive. 

4. Requirements

  • 4.1The head of human resources is responsible for the following:
    • 4.1.1Ensuring that the performance and talent management of executives are administered in a robust, fair and consistent manner in accordance with this directive and the instructions communicated by the Chief Human Resources Officer.
  • 4.2Managers are responsible for the following:
    • 4.2.1For each subordinate executive, carrying out the following responsibilities in accordance with the Standard on the Administration of Executive Performance and Talent Management in Appendix A:

      Performance management

      • 4.2.1.1Establishing a performance agreement;
      • 4.2.1.2Establishing a learning and development plan;
      • 4.2.1.3Conducting a mid‑year performance review;
      • 4.2.1.4Completing a performance assessment;
      • 4.2.1.5Communicating performance assessment results to the executive;

      Talent management

      • 4.2.1.6Completing an annual talent assessment;
      • 4.2.1.7Communicating talent assessment results to the executive; and
      • 4.2.1.8Providing feedback on the executive’s strengths, areas for development and career goals.

    Performance improvement plan

    • 4.2.2For each subordinate executive whose performance is rated as “Did not meet (Level 1),” or is deemed unsatisfactory at any point in a performance review period, carrying out the following responsibilities:
      • 4.2.2.1Establishing and implementing a performance improvement plan;
      • 4.2.2.2Providing feedback, learning activities and coaching to help the executive improve performance;
      • 4.2.2.3Monitoring and evaluating the executive’s progress against the performance improvement plan; and
      • 4.2.2.4Communicating, at the outset of the performance improvement plan, the steps to be taken and potential range of consequences, including demotion or termination, if performance does not improve.

5. Roles of other government organizations

  • 5.1The roles of other government organizations in relation to this directive are described in section 5 of the Policy on People Management

6. Application

  • 6.1This directive applies to the organizations listed in section 6 of the Policy on the Management of Executives and to employees:
    • 6.1.1Appointed or deployed to positions in the Executive (EX) Group; and
    • 6.1.2Occupying excluded or unrepresented positions in the following:
      • Defence Scientific Service (DS) Group, levels 7A, 7B, and 8;
      • Medical Officer (MD‑MOF) Group, levels 4 and 5;
      • Medical Specialist (MD‑MSP) Group, level 3; and
      • Law Management (LC) Group.

7. References

8. Enquiries


Appendix A: Standard on the Administration of Executive Performance and Talent Management

A1. Effective date

  • A1.1This standard takes effect on April 1, 2020.

A2. Standards

  • A2.1This standard provides details on the requirements set out in section 4 of the Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives.
  • A2.2Standards are as follows:

    Performance agreement

    • A2.2.1A performance agreement is established with each executive who is appointed or deployed to an executive position when the time spent in the executive position will equal or exceed three consecutive months during the performance review period.
    • A2.2.2Performance agreements must include:
      • A2.2.2.1The period covered by the agreement;
      • A2.2.2.2Clear commitments specific to the executive’s role and responsibilities, with associated performance measures that are linked to the priorities of the organization and of the Government of Canada;
      • A2.2.2.3Specific references to how the executive will demonstrate the key leadership competencies; and
      • A2.2.2.4The signatures of the executive and the manager at the beginning of the performance review period, at the mid‑year review and at the year‑end assessment.

    Learning and development plan

    • A2.2.3A learning and development plan is established or updated for each executive when a performance agreement is established and, if necessary, following a talent assessment in accordance with instructions provided by the Chief Human Resources Officer.

    Mid‑year performance review

    • A2.2.4The mid‑year performance review must include:
      • A2.2.4.1Feedback on progress on achieving results against established commitments and on the demonstration of the key leadership competencies;
      • A2.2.4.2A review of learning and development needs and activities;
      • A2.2.4.3An amendment of the performance agreement, and learning and development plan, as required; and
      • A2.2.4.4Signatures of the manager and the executive acknowledging that the content of the mid‑year review has been discussed.

    Performance assessment

    • A2.2.5A performance assessment is completed within 60 days of the end of each performance review period for each executive with a performance agreement.
    • A2.2.6Performance assessments must include:
      • A2.2.6.1A written assessment of results achieved against established commitments;
      • A2.2.6.2A written assessment of how the results were achieved through demonstration of the key leadership competencies;
      • A2.2.6.3One performance rating that reflects the executive’s overall performance with respect to results achieved and demonstration of the key leadership competencies based on the following rating scale:
        Unable to assess
        (Level 0)
        Performance could not be assessed because executive worked for fewer than three consecutive months in the position during the performance review period.
        Did not meet
        (Level 1)
        Did not achieve performance expectations.
        • Performance results and/or the demonstration of the effective behaviours related to the key leadership competencies were inadequate.
        • Knowledge, skills and abilities were not demonstrated at appropriate levels.
        • Did not meet all or most of the commitments set out and needs significant improvement in critical areas of the position or in the effective behaviours related to all the key leadership competencies for the role.
        • In repeated instances, demonstrated deficiencies that detracted from the achievement of expected results. Failed to produce – or produced unacceptable – work products, services or outcomes.
        Succeeded minus
        (Level 2)
        Did not achieve all performance expectations, or succeeded in the face of challenges that were of much lower scope and complexity compared with other executives at the same level.
        • Inconsistently demonstrated satisfactory performance and/or the effective behaviours related to the key leadership competencies for the role throughout the performance review period.
        • Needs to strengthen performance and gain proficiency in the role.
        • Achieved some, but not all, commitments and/or is acquiring necessary knowledge and skills to fully meet the expectations of the position.
        Succeeded
        (Level 3)
        Achieved all performance expectations.
        • Achieved all the results set out in the commitments and consistently and effectively demonstrated all or most of the effective behaviours related to the key leadership competencies for the role throughout the performance review period.
        • Performance as an executive reflected a fully qualified individual in this position.
        • Peers viewed this individual as a solid and dependable leader who displayed a high level of excellence.
        • Contributed to the organization’s overall objectives through valuable accomplishments in several critical areas of the position and through demonstrated behaviours. May have exceeded some expectations for the position.
        Succeeded plus
        (Level 4)
        Exceeded performance expectations, or succeeded in the face of challenges that were of much greater scope and complexity compared with other executives at the same level.
        • Consistently achieved results and demonstrated the effective behaviours related to the key leadership competencies that exceeded the expectations of the position and were above the norm throughout the performance review period.
        • More than half of the results that were achieved exceeded expectations, and all other expectations were fully achieved.
        Surpassed
        (Level 5)
        Demonstrated truly exceptional performance that went significantly beyond expectations.
        • Achievements and effective behaviours related to all key leadership competencies for the role had tremendous and consistent positive impact and value for the organization and for the public service.
        • Overcame unanticipated barriers or intractable problems while mastering the effective behaviours related to all key leadership competencies for the role.
        • Demonstrated a unique performance level that can be considered a one‑time achievement that extensively and measurably contributed to the organizational goals.
        • Demonstrated outstanding performance that set the executive apart, as it is not often achieved by others. Always exceeded expectations and was easily recognized as a top performer compared with peers.
      • A2.2.6.4Signatures of the manager and the executive acknowledging that the content of the performance assessment has been discussed.

    Performance assessments for executives in special circumstances

    Retirement or death
    • A2.2.7The performance rating of executives who retire or die prior to the end of the performance review period is based on an assessment of results achieved against established commitments and demonstration of the key leadership competencies for the portion of time the executive worked during the review period.

    Language training

    • A2.2.8In addition to the performance agreement for the portion of the year not spent on language training, a performance agreement is required for the portion of the year spent on language training. This performance agreement states that the executive’s commitment is to diligently participate in language training to meet the requirements of the position.
    • A2.2.9For diligent participation in language training, executives receive a “Succeeded (Level 3) rating.

    Interchange Canada assignments to organizations outside the core public administration

    • A2.2.10The executive is required to establish a performance agreement at the beginning of the assignment period with the immediate manager of the host organization.
    • A2.2.11If the executive has worked with the host organization for fewer than three consecutive months during the performance review period, the evaluation of the executive’s performance is based on the achievement of results and demonstration of the key leadership competencies in the home position (department), with consideration of the results achieved while on the Interchange assignment.
    • A2.2.12If the executive has worked in the home position for three consecutive months or longer and in the host position for three consecutive months or longer during the performance review period, the achievement of results and demonstration of the key leadership competencies in both the substantive executive position and the Interchange assignment are taken into consideration in establishing the performance rating.

    Interchange Canada assignments from outside the core public administration

    • A2.2.13Executives on Interchange Canada assignments from outside the core public administration are not subject to the Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives.

    Leave without pay

    • A2.2.14A performance agreement is not required for the portion of the performance review period during which an executive is on leave without pay.

    Salary maintenance status

    • A2.2.15Surplus executives who are on salary maintenance after being appointed to an executive position with a lower maximum salary than the salary they were receiving in their previous position and non‑executives appointed to an executive position with a lower maximum salary than the salary they were receiving in their previous position require performance agreements.
    • A2.2.16Executives who are on salary maintenance after being declared surplus under the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment for Executives and who are subsequently appointed to a lower‑level non‑executive position while their salary is above the salary maximum of this lower‑level position are not subject to the Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives.

    Salary protection status

    • A2.2.17A performance agreement is required for executives who have salary protection status, even if their position has been reclassified as a non‑executive position.

    Secondment within the core public administration

    • A2.2.18A performance agreement for a secondment is required when the time spent in the executive position will equal or exceed three consecutive months during the performance review period.
    • A2.2.19Both the home and the host departments are responsible for defining the executive’s commitments and for evaluating the executive’s achievement of results and demonstration of the key leadership competencies during the executive’s period of work for them.

    Special deployments

    • A2.2.20In situations where an executive is on special deployment, a performance agreement is established and the executive’s performance is assessed against the commitments and the key leadership competencies.

    Surplus status under the Directive on Terms and Conditions of Employment for Executives during the notice period (priority entitlement)

    • A2.2.21When the time spent in the executive position will equal or exceed three consecutive months during the performance review period, a performance agreement is required.

    Casual workers

    • A2.2.22Executives employed as casual workers do not require a performance agreement.

    Specified period appointments (terms)

    • A2.2.23Executives on specified period appointments are treated the same as those in indeterminate positions with respect to the requirements of the Directive on Performance and Talent Management for Executives.

    Promotion during the year

    • A2.2.24In cases where an executive is promoted to a new position partway through the performance review period, the performance on commitments and key leadership competencies in both the former and the current position is considered for the purposes of determining the performance rating.

    Reclassification during the year

    • A2.2.25In cases where an executive has been appointed to a reclassified executive position (at either a higher or a lower level) during the performance review period, performance at both levels is considered for the purposes of determining the performance rating.

    Part‑time work

    • A2.2.26Indeterminate and term part‑time executives are required to have a performance agreement and an assessment of performance against the commitments established and the key leadership competencies.

    Talent assessment

    • A2.2.27According to the instructions provided by the Chief Human Resources Officer, a talent assessment is completed for all individuals whose substantive position is an executive position based on the following definitions:
    Talent result Definitions
    Ready for advancement Executive consistently and effectively demonstrates expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies, as well as the potential and desire for a more senior role. Promotion may be the best approach to maximize this executive’s contribution to the organization and/or public service. An executive must have valid second language evaluation (SLE) results to be assessed as “ready for advancement.”
    Ready for lateral movement Executive demonstrates the expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies and has maximized professional development in the current position. Lateral opportunities would allow the executive to gain further breadth of experience, enhance skills, satisfy current aspirations and maintain engagement. An executive must have valid second language evaluation (SLE) results to be assessed as “ready for lateral movement.”
    Well placed in role Executive demonstrates the expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies and contributes to the success of the organization and/or public service. Current position continues to offer sufficient challenge to enable growth.
    Develop in role Executive demonstrates some but not all of the expected behaviours related to the key leadership competencies and/or contributes to a limited extent to the success of the organization and/or public service. Current position offers sufficient challenge and opportunity for the executive to develop the key leadership competencies and demonstrate strengths and potential.
    Move to more suitable role Current position is not a good fit for the executive’s skills, competencies, abilities or interests. Another position may provide the opportunity for the executive to demonstrate strengths and potential.
    Transition to retirement Executive has communicated an intention to retire. A managerial, advisory or coaching role may be the best approach to maximize knowledge transfer and this executive’s contribution to the organization and/or public service.
    No placement Should be used only in exceptional circumstances when the executive cannot reasonably be placed in any other category.

Appendix B: Definitions

Definitions to be used in the interpretation of this directive can be found in this appendix, Appendix D of the Policy on People Management, and Appendix C of the Policy on the Management of Executives.

performance rating (cote de rendement)
A rating given to an employee by their manager based on an assessment of their achievements against commitments and competencies identified in the performance agreement.

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by the President of the Treasury Board, 2020,
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