Results-Oriented Cultures:

Using Balanced Expectations to Manage Senior Executive Performance

GAO-02-966: Published: Sep 27, 2002. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 2002.

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Effective performance management systems link individual performance to organizational goals. In October 2000, the Office of Personnel Management amended regulations to require agencies to link senior executive performance with organizational goals; to appraise executive performance by balancing organizational results with customer satisfaction, employee perspective, and other areas; and to use performance results as a basis for pay, awards, and other personnel decisions. Agencies were to establish these performance management systems by their 2001 senior executive performance appraisal cycles. Because they implemented a set of balanced expectations prior to the Office of Personnel Management requirement, GAO studied the Bureau of Land Management's, Federal Highway Administration's, Internal Revenue Service's, and Veterans Benefits Administration's use of balanced expectations to manage senior executive performance in order to identify initial approaches that may be helpful to other agencies in holding senior executives accountable for results.

The agencies GAO reviewed developed an initial set of balanced expectations for senior executives to address in their individual performance plans. GAO found that these agencies are in the early stages of using a set of balanced expectations to appraise senior executive performance and there are significant opportunities to strengthen their efforts as they move forward in holding executives accountable for results. Specifically, more progress is needed in explicitly linking executive expectations for performance to organizational goals. In addition, while these agencies address partnering with customers and other stakeholders, greater emphasis should be placed in fostering the collaboration within and across organizational boundaries to achieve results. Successful organizations understand that they must often change their culture to successfully transform themselves, and such change starts with top leadership. Senior executive performance expectations to lead and facilitate change could be a critical element as agencies transform themselves.

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