Building Trust & Effectiveness in Congress
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Summary of Chapter 13: A Process for Managing Staff

*Excerpt from Setting Course: A Congressional Management Guide, copyright Congressional Management Foundation. 


  • reap the benefits of improved staff performance and work product by following the five-step performance management system:
    1. establish performance goals for each staff person.
    2. monitor progress and provide feedback on staff performance throughout the year.
    3. conduct formal staff evaluations.
    4. follow through on the evaluations and prepare for the upcoming year.
    5. recognize high-performing staff.

  • develop a core message for each employee. Addressing too many issues in the performance review will dilute your key points and reduce understanding of the most important goals.

  • adapt the performance management tools to develop staff at different levels. Such a strategy keeps star performers motivated, helps solid performers improve, and addresses the problems of sub-par performers.

  • use a consistent and straightforward process to manage an employee’s performance problem. Focus on ways to objectively identify issues and help the employee improve.

  • wait until an employee’s performance deteriorates to address the problem. Set expectations early in his or her tenure.

  • assess the employee’s performance without first gaining his or her input. Use job appraisal or performance review forms to allow the employee to create an initial self-evaluation.

  • use the formal performance evaluation as opportunity to indict staff. Strive for understanding instead.

  • discuss money in performance reviews. The purpose is to reflect on past performance and identify areas for future improvement, not make the case for a bonus or salary increase.

  • overlook the value of non-monetary rewards for high-performing staff, which also serve as a motivator and morale booster.

  • devote the most management time to the weakest employee while ignoring the solid and star performers.