Customs and Excise Department (C&ED)
The Trade Controls Branch of C&ED has conducted a study in April 1997 to identify the competencies for each of the five ranks of the Trade Control Officer Grade (TCOG). The study identified 7 core and 4 functional competencies. These competencies were used as a link pin to integrate various HRM initiatives including performance management, training & development, recruitment & selection, and manpower & succession planning of the grade.
C&ED first applied the identified competencies to performance management and training & development.
(a) Performance Management
A new performance appraisal form for the five ranks of TCOG with the identified competencies as the basis for assessment has been designed. Views on the form from staff association, departmental management and CSTDI were solicited before the form was submitted to CSB for approval.
(b) Training and Development
A Training Committee has been established to examine and approve training policy, training plans and training estimates. It also monitored training activities, determined training needs and training entitlement of the staff, and conducted annual training review. As approved by the Training Committee, a Training Policy has been formulated and a Training Plan drawn up for the provision of training to TCOG officers in a competency-based approach.
In order to take into account the changing needs, the curriculum and training materials for the induction course have been revised in consultation with CSTDI in order to provide competency-based training to the new recruits. A Training Need Survey for TCOG officers has also been conducted.
Besides, officers having attended special training in management are required to conduct post-training experience sharing sessions in their respective bureaux.
With specific and observable behavioural indicators for measuring performance, the competency-based performance management system has provided an objective tool for assessment which can ensure consistency among supervisors and avoid disputes about fairness in appraisals between supervisors and subordinates. It has also enabled the supervisors to identify the weaknesses of staff and to coach them for improvement with clear indicators.
The application of competencies to training and development has provided and improved the knowledge, skill and abilities for TCOG officers to perform their jobs confidently and professionally to achieve the department's goals.
Education Department (ED)
Performance management was one of the key programmes in the HRM Plan of ED. The programme aimed to enhance staff performance and organisational effectiveness, which contributed towards achieving the departmental objectives.
A. Integrated framework
ED has devised an integrated framework of performance management and staff development for the departmental grade staff -
- holistic, transparent and dynamic - it built on effective and active two-way communication, linked up and actively shared information among HRM activities
- a fair system, useful and purposeful to both management and staff
- systematic support and follow-up to performance appraisal through the work of Moderation Panel, Promotion Board, Staff Development Panel, Posting Conference, and related training and development efforts
- encouraged continuous process of review and feedback including a formal mid-year review
- adopted appropriate methodology depending on the size and nature of grades/ranks
- informed staff and supervisors concerned of discrepancies and observations and allowed representations to be made within a specified period
- on the basis of performance appraisal records and observations of the Moderation Panel, considered individual officers' posting, training and development needs, and recommended follow-up actions
Staff Development Panel
- systematically considered and implemented when practicable agreed recommendations of the promotion exercises, and determined individual officers' needs for posting, training and development
- played a strategic role over both short term and long term staff development
- planned and arranged postings to meet operational needs and for staff development
Division Head Support
- planned and arranged development programmes for staff as recommended by Staff Development Panel, and monitored the progress
- provided off-the-job training
(B) Support Activities
In mid 90s, ED has designed, in consultation with staff unions, new appraisal forms for different departmental grades. The design of individual forms took account of the needs of the different departmental grades, their specific tasks, and key attributes in performance, and incorporated a three-tier assessment in the appraisal process viz. appraising, countersigning and reviewing. Other initiatives to cope with new changes included -
- gradual introduction of core competencies in the appraisal process
- revised guidance notes on completion of appraisal forms to cover HRM objectives
- defined mechanism on setting objectives in the appraisal process, and the introduction of mid-year review
- promulgation of promotion key attributes to increase transparency
- adjustment of appraisal cycle to even out submissions to the Public Service Commission
- allowing option of completing the performance appraisal in Chinese or English for all non-directorate departmental grade staff
- guidelines for moderation panel and career postings
- cross-grade posting and interflow with outside organisations
- training activities on different aspects of performance appraisal e.g. concepts of performance management, setting objectives, writing skill, interviewing skill etc. to cater for different training needs
- annual briefing sessions
- computerization of essential appraisal records to facilitate analysis of performance management data, automation of administrative procedures, matching of competencies of staff with job requirements, and correlation between staff performance and their variables e.g. nature of work, performance profile over time, etc.
- a strategic training review and the reorganisation of Training and Development Unit to strengthen the interface between HRM programmes and training & development for staff from their joining the department till departure
- support for the framework from senior management through deliberations at HRM Strategy Group and reinforcement of the messages at meetings
- consultation with staff unions on the framework to accommodate staff aspiration, and wide publicity through circulars and other internal publications from time to time to facilitate better understanding of the framework
The integrated framework with the support activities has fostered an open, fair and objective appraisal system which linked up various HRM programmes in a structured way. It has encouraged better communication between staff and their supervisors throughout the appraisal process, making the assessment more focused, well substantiated and transparent. It has enabled proactive and systematic staff development through training and posting. Further, through taking different roles in different boards/panels, staff can assume greater HRM responsibilities in their career.
Highways Department (HyD)
Under the individual based performance management systems, there is a strong tendency for reporting officers to be over-generous in grading their subordinates. In 1996, HyD has already taken note of such tendency in the performance assessment of the inspectorate and works supervisory grades under their purview. Consideration was then given to the establishment of a system of assessment panels to monitor distribution of grading.
HyD worked out a draft proposal -
|Grade 1||Not more than 10%|
|Grade 1 + 2||Not more than 40%|
|Grade 3 + 4||Remaining|
|Priority 1||Not more than 5%|
|Priority 1 + 2||Not more than 35%|
|Priority 3 + 4||Remaining|
HyD consulted user departments on the draft proposal before they finalized the implementation details. The Assessment Panel System was launched in 1997.
The Assessment Panel System for the inspectorate and works supervisory grades has achieved its intended purpose. Since its introduction in 1997, there has been improvement in performance assessment, in terms of objectivity and accuracy. The standard of assessment among user departments has been better aligned. Promotion boards have also given due weight to the panel's observations.
Marine Department (MD)
With the development of the HRM plan in 1995, MD has identified performance management, inter alia, a key programme area for improvement. The department has thus decided to develop a new Performance Management System with the objectives of linking division/section/unit and individual performance to strategic objectives, identifying training and career development priorities, improving the effectiveness of the appraisal process, and enhancing the transparency of promotion. The new PMS programme was focused on the professional grade on a pilot basis.
Staff consultation was conducted to identify the core and managerial competencies of professional officers. Twenty eight competencies in eight major categories, each with a behavioural description, were identified. A new Staff Appraisal Report incorporating these competencies was then designed and introduced in 1996. The new form contained various features that aimed to achieve the objectives set.
To facilitate the implementation of the new PMS, training workshops on alignment of individual objectives with departmental goal were organized. To alleviate the concern relating to appraisal on short-term acting appointment, staff were consulted and related procedures were clearly laid down in the guidance notes of the appraisal forms. The Directorate demonstrated their commitment by recognizing exemplary staff reports in staff meetings and using the staff report as the basis of staff development and promotion decisions. Open communication with staff was established through on-going forum with staff, biannual meetings with staff associations, access to departmental information through Internet, the department's Intranet and staff opinion surveys.
The introduction of the new PMS was accompanied by changes to the department's promotion and training. Competency proficiency information was used as the basis for promotability evaluation and promotion decision. After promotion decisions were made, Grade Manager met with "Passover" candidates to communicate the decision and future development potential. Training was provided, as far as possible, with reference to the training needs identified in PMS. Orientation training for new employees included training in PMS.
Although both appraising officers and appraisees had to spend more time on the new PMS, managers shared the view that they were getting better performance results through better objective planning, interim and end-of-period appraisals. There was also a general behavioural change from task orientation to result focused, aligned to departmental objectives.
As individual objectives in the PMS were closely aligned with departmental objectives and goals, achieving individual objectives contributed to MD's fulfillment of service pledges to the public. From 1995 to 1997, each year MD has met most of its major service pledges, some of which set with a higher standard than the previous year.
For the management, the quality of the completed appraisals has been vastly improved, particularly in respect of reports on staff entering the "zone" promotability. On the other hand, staff morale has improved as the transparency of promotion decision and development plan has ensured fairness and openness.