One of the most important roles for the State Services Commission is its role in appointing, inducting and evaluating the performance of public service chief executives. These activities have a key interface with Ministers. The Commission as the employer of public sector chief executives also needs to concern itself with their development and with ensuring it is well placed in terms of succession. Since the 2013 PIF review the Commission has made significant changes to the way performance expectations are set for chief executives, the performance management process itself and the way they are remunerated. The Commission has also begun to address chief executive development and succession.
Alongside these changes the Commission is in the throes of implementing a strategic approach to talent management for the state services. Momentum is building around a programme of work to grow a pipeline of 2nd and 3rd tier talent for the next 2-5 years as well as a focus on emerging talent and graduates. It is also working with senior Lead Reviewers to refresh the Performance Improvement Framework (PIF) to continuously improve the product and its value to both Ministers and chief executives as a contributor to sector and agency effectiveness.
The primary channel for appointing and managing the performance of chief executives is through Deputy and Assistant Commissioners (within the Sector and Agency Performance Group - SAPG). They currently each have a portfolio of chief executives and their agencies with which they have a day-to-day relationship as well as triaging those relationships with central agency colleagues. Increasingly that relationship needs to be informed by knowledge of Ministerial priorities and where a particular chief executive or agency sits in the context of others within the system.
The Commission also interacts with Ministers and chief executives through other means including the Commissioner, Deputy State Services Commissioner and lead Deputy Commissioners for example, for PIF, employment relations, state sector reform or the leadership development and deployment work.
Given this context this PIF follow-up review has been requested by SSC to assist it to think more deeply about its role in relation to public service chief executives and those it appoints and undertakes performance reviews at the request of Ministers (NZDF, NZ Police, NZSIS, Crown Law Office and GCSB).
The Commission needs to evolve its method of engagement to ensure its resources are directed to areas of greatest impact and that the channels it uses for that engagement are effective and efficient not only for itself but for its customer groupings.
The SSC has asked that this follow-up review focus on its progress in Chief Executive recruitment and performance management and leadership and capability development and deployment across the System. In reviewing progress made in these priority functions, I was asked to explore:
What are Chief Executives and Ministers looking for from the Commission?
What shifts has the Commission made towards this over the past two years?
Is the current model of engagement the most effective for the future?
[If not] what needs to be different?
A second area of focus for this review is on the internal operation of the Commission. Since the 2013 PIF Review, the Commission has developed a workforce strategy, introduced new induction and recruitment materials and refined the core competencies required for different levels of roles within the organisation and is introducing a Talent Board to better understand and manage the career aspirations and capability of its staff. It has also refreshed its business strategy and defined an explicit operating model, underpinned by four Portfolio Leads covering: System Stewardship. Collective Impact, Learning Culture and Better Everyday SSC.
In this context I was asked to explore:
What makes SSC a good place to work?
Is it clear to you how what you do contributes to the overall priorities the Commission needs to achieve?
What works well and what changes could be made for the better?