Performance evaluations critical to NSPS pay increases
June 10, 2008
<b>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</b> - A strong performance evaluation is the key factor to earning salary increases and bonuses for employees in the National Security Personnel System, according to the results of the U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan's first mock pay pool panel process.
"The performance appraisal is the single most important opportunity to show us what you've done," said panel member Ron Outten, acting director of USAG-Yongsan Resource Management. "It must address your contributions and achievements and the impact on the garrison mission."
NSPS is designed to replace the Department of Defense's civil service system to promote a culture of performance. Pay increases are based solely on an employee's level of performance.
Panel members presented their feedback June 5 from a mock pay pool they held in May. This practice pool was a critical session for the panel to become familiar with the process and vote as they would during an actual pay pool.
The first real pay pool will come in November, with payouts occurring in January.
The seven panel members were sequestered for four days to evaluate and rate 38 employee records, which includes performance objectives, employee self-assessment and supervisor appraisal.
The panel recommends to the pay pool manager, Deputy Garrison Commander Don Moses, how much salary increase and bonus will be paid to employees.
"We wanted to make sure we did it right," said panel member David McNally, USAG-Yongsan's public affairs officer. "We thoroughly looked at each employee's record and had good discussions to make sure that we were doing the right thing."
All panel members emphasized how important the performance evaluation is to earning salary increases or bonuses.
"The write-up is the key to the whole thing," said Lynn Irlmeier, who also works in Resource Management. "It must paint a clear picture of what you did and must be measureable and quantifiable in accordance with Department of Defense NSPS benchmarks."
This means increased communication and feedback between employees and supervisors, which is also a goal of NSPS.
"Employees are now held accountable for their performance, and supervisors will be held accountable to administer the performance system," said Carrie Wiggins, the NSPS trainer at the Seoul Civilian Personnel Advisory Center who advised the pay panel. "The increase in communication means improved mentoring, training and development for all employees."
The panel's feedback pointed to effective writing techniques and providing quality evidence of accomplishments and contributions to the organization's mission.
"Supervisors need to work with employees and help them make sure they meet their performance objectives as well as identifying with the paradigm shift of contributing factors that measure an employee's work behaviors. It's not just what you do anymore; it's also how you do it, how you critically think, how you communicate, your customer focus, and other areas," Wiggins said.
The panel also discussed how salary increases and bonuses are paid out based on rating level achieved.
Under NSPS, an employee must perform at "Valued Performance" Level 3 or higher to earn a bonus or a base salary increase.
"Level 3 is exceptional under the civil service system," Wiggins said. "Across DOD, the trend during the last two years of ratings has been right around Level 3."
A Level 3 rating will earn an employee one or two shares of pay. The higher the rating, the more shares paid out. The pay panel determines how it's divided between an increase to base salary and a bonus.
Wiggins said in 2007 the average salary increase and bonus money paid out to NSPS employees throughout DOD was approximately 7.6 percent, which was a combination of salary increases and bonuses. By comparison, the average salary increase for GS employees was 2.5 percent.
"Depending on where you are in the band, if you're on the low end, the panel might give you a larger salary increase than bonus," Wiggins explained. "Someone who's high in the band may get more of a bonus since they can't exceed the band's maximum."
USAG-Yongsan Commander Col. Dave Hall said it's critical supervisors work with employees to mentor them and help them ensure they meet their performance objectives.
"This was a trial run and this feedback is great," Hall said. "This is pay for performance. Supervisors and employees will be held accountable for communication and feedback to achieve the expected results. The increased communication will improve mentoring, training and development opportunities for all employees.""