Public employment and management

Performance and Leadership



As with any organisation, good public sector performance rests with its staff: their capacities and skills, as well as the ability of the leadership to motivate staff to do their best in achieving organisational objectives. Good management of staff performance ensures an empowered and motivated civil service that is flexible and collaborative and provides services in a cost efficient manner.

 Over the past two decades, most OECD member countries have implemented reforms to modernise their public administrations with the aim of increasing efficiency and quality in service delivery. A cornerstone of these reforms has been the implementation of performance-oriented management of public sector organisations, including the use of performance assessments for individual staff, work groups and the entire organisation. Performance assessments can allow for the recognition of individual and collective efforts in an objective and transparent manner. Such practices can also clarify organisational goals for staff so that they gain a better understanding of their role within the organisation

 Extent of the use of performance assessments in human resource decisions in central government (2010)


 Note: 0 = no use; 1 = high use.

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Performance-Related Pay

Relating performance assessment results to rewards for staff remains a challenging issue in many OECD countries. Performance incentives include career opportunities (such as promotions) and pay. Performance-related pay (PRP) in the form of bonuses or merit increases to basic pay has been used more frequently in recent years. PRP can vary according to the range of staff positions to which it applies, whether the targets and the incentives apply to individuals or to groups, the extent to which rankings are used, and the size of awards.

Extent of the use of performance-related pay in central government (2012)

 ‌Extent of the use of performance-related pay in central government (2012)

Note: 0 = no use; 1 = high use.



Senior civil servants are located at a critical junction between strategy making and strategy execution in government. They must display the leadership capabilities to execute high-level policy directives quickly and effectively as well as draw from institutional knowledge and the experience to contribute to evidence-based decision making. Because of their strategic roles in government, there is an increased tendency among OECD countries to group senior civil servants separately and manage them under different HRM policies.

Use of separate human resource practices for senior civil servants in central government (2010)


Note: 0 = not differentiated; 1 = very differentiated.

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Key Questions

  • Do the various employment regimes support the management of individual and collective performance through selection, promotion, compensation and termination?
  • Does the link between human resource management and financial delegation contribute to agency incentives for performance?
  • Is there an emphasis put on leadership to support the management of individual and collective performance?
  • How does senior management contribute to the performance of organisations?


Further Reading




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