Key Actions by:

Standard 14: Managing and developing human resources for quality project implementation.

Manage project human resources proactively through quality supervision, rigorous performance and development planning and assessment and timely action to address staffing needs. 

Provide performance management support to project team staff according to their responsibilities and priorities.

  • Why

    Supporting the performance of individual staff members is key to strong overall project progress. While CRS teams may spend significant time on creating project goals and objectives, typically much less time is spent supporting project staff to develop related individual performance objectives. Failing to invest time in project staff performance planning can undermine staff performance and affect project performance in turn. Poor performance can also result from unclear lines of communication, lack of available resources, and the underuse or misapplication of the staff member’s talents. Supporting project team staff to fulfill their project responsibilities and priorities:

    • Enhances project progress by aligning everyone’s work with the overall project objectives.
    • Improves staff morale, as staff know their work is contributing to a larger success.
    • Further increases CRS’ capacity by developing the competencies of its workforce.
  • Who

    • Primary responsible: Supervisor
      • The supervisor guides the staff member through the process of performance management.

    • Others involved: Country representative (CR) and senior management team (SMT); project manager (PM)/chief of party (CoP) and other project team members (programming, finance and other operations)
      • The CR and SMT oversee the performance management process at country program and team level;
      • The PM/CoP assists with outlining project priorities that inform performance planning; Other project team members are involved in developing and implementing their individual performance goals and performance objectives.

  • When
    • Ongoing throughout implementation with key activities based on the CRS performance management calendar.
  • How

    This key action is implemented as part of CRS’ wider performance management system and guidance.

    In addition to following general performance management guidance, follow these steps to ensure that project team staff receive appropriate performance management support for their role in the project:

    1. The supervisor helps the staff member complete his or her performance goals and development objectives initially as part of project-specific onboarding and then annually at the start of each fiscal year.
    • Ensure the staff member understands how his or her responsibilities fit into the overall project objectives and project management approach, as well as overall priorities for the specific phase of project implementation (e.g., timely project start-up, effective implementation of adjustments to the project strategy based on mid-term review recommendations, responsible close-out).
    • Use the project detailed implementation plan (DIP), which includes key programming, project financial and operations management, donor engagement, and MEAL activities (including reporting), to help the staff member to develop performance objectives that support effective overall project implementation.
    • Help the staff member to identify project-related capacity gaps, including any gaps in competencies, and address them through activities to develop the staff member’s performance (see Standard 14, key action 2).

    Project DIPs and performance and monthly work planning: In addition to aligning annual performance plans with the overall project priorities summarized in the project DIP, in some country programs each staff member creates a monthly work plan based on the DIP. These plans provide more details about what that staff member is responsible for that month. In some projects, partners also adopt this type of planning. The work plan not only guides the staff member in his or her efforts, but also serves as a record which aids performance assessment.

    The CRS performance planning year and the project year don’t always align; in such cases, the PM should use the project quarterly meeting closest to the timing of performance plan development to organize a discussion with the project team about major project priorities and activities in the coming performance year. 

    1. The supervisor coaches the staff member regularly in achieving the performance and development objectives.
    • Encourage the staff member to reflect on his or her role in helping the project meet its objectives. Ask about examples of accomplishments in advancing the project and in improving overall project quality in the area(s) most relevant to the project team member’s responsibilities (e.g., financial reporting, MEAL, partnership, technical programming, etc.).
    • Encourage the staff member to reflect on additional capacity building needed to further improve his or her ability to contribute to the project.
    • If the staff member is performing poorly, probe to determine if he or she fully understands the project objectives and activities, job responsibilities, and how to carry out assigned tasks to advance the project.
    • Use the Checklist for Performance Management with Project Staff.

    Provide continuous support: CRS’ performance management system includes set times for planning and assessing performance and development objectives. Performance management support is best provided on an ongoing basis, not only in formal meetings. Supervisors should provide frequent feedback on staff members’ performance and development in a supportive environment.

    1. At the end of the performance year, the staff member and supervisor individually assess the staff member’s performance against the objectives established in step 1, review areas of strength and areas for improvement, and discuss priorities for the coming year’s plan, in light of upcoming project priorities.
  • Partnership
    • Accompany partners as needed in helping provide their project staff with appropriate performance management support. This could include a workshop to help partner project staff learn more about the project’s goals and objectives and think through how they can set aligning individual performance objectives. This could also include setting monthly work plans.
    • Performance management support can also be a partner capacity strengthening activity in itself. Depending on partner need, interest, and CRS staff ability to support, CRS could offer to help the partner to develop or improve their own system of performance management.
  • When CRS is a sub-recipient
    • Follow the same process when CRS is a sub-recipient.
  • Emergency projects
    • Follow the same process for staff working for an extended period on an emergency project.
    • For staff working for only a short period on an emergency project, the emergency supervisor can fill out the TDY feedback form once the TDY has been completed, to help the staff’s permanent supervisor in the coaching and performance assessment process.