In the 2019-20 Corporate Plan, the Commission set out that it would build leadership for the future. The Commission highlighted the need to have empowered and accountable leaders in the APS to set the tone and direction for the future. The Commission aimed to build leadership for the future by managing Senior Executive Service (SES) succession planning, career pathways, diversity, mobility, talent identification and recruitment.
Under Strategic Priority Three, two focus areas illustrated the Commission’s work to build leadership for the future. The areas of focus included leadership development and talent management.
Of the two targets set for 2019-20 both were achieved.
APS Leadership development programs for EL2 and SES levels continued to show strong results during the year. Two programs were in a refresh process when COVID-19 required a rapid review of delivery methods of these and the broader suite of leadership programs. Providing a virtual online method of access is now allowing APS EL2s and SES who are located outside Canberra to develop their capability without leaving their home state.
Participant feedback is positive in terms of the learner experience and the value of virtual online learning, with comments from participants about how they value the opportunity to discuss issues openly with colleagues, and that they are pleasantly surprised at how easily this happens in a virtual classroom. They have also noted the importance of creating time to focus on leadership, especially at this challenging time - having dealt with the immediate crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and now moving to a period where recovery and a longer term view is needed. This year’s experience has highlighted that in designing online learning, creating opportunities for people to connect and engage is critical.
On behalf of the APS, the APSC supports the Secretaries Talent Council (STC) and Deputy Secretaries Talent Council (DSTC) to manage Senior Executive Service (SES) talent processes and build a stronger and more diverse leadership pipeline for the future. The Commission provides support to the Councils through strategic advice, design and management of assessment and development processes working in partnership with external experts, and secretariat support.
Secretaries Talent Council
In 2019-20, the STC continued its key work overseeing assessment and development of SES Band 2s and SES Band 3s with high potential, and extended its assessment program to include capability assessments of all Band 3 employees. The Council also commenced the design of an APS-wide approach to succession management for the most senior roles. The succession management approach will support the longer-term development of the leadership pipeline, and in July 2020 was endorsed at the Secretaries Retreat. Assessment and development continued for 18 SES Band 3 employees in the fifth assessment round with a short extension in the assessment period to respond to emerging pressures created by COVID-19. The STC continued to support the development of SES Band 3s through a number of events.
Deputy Secretaries Talent Council
In 2019-20, the Deputy Secretaries Talent Council (DSTC) continued its key work and managed the largest ever talent assessment and development process for senior executives across the APS in its fifth round, including 35 SES Band 1s and 38 SES Band 2s. In addition, the DSTC continued to support the development of a pool of high potential SES through coaching and mentoring, the Intensive Leadership Development Program and a number of engagement events. In addition, the Commission supported the DSTC to induct four new members to continue this work.
Executive Level 2 Program
The Commission finalised the Executive Level 2 (EL2) pilot program on behalf of the APS, which will support agencies to identify and develop talented EL2 officers. These resources will be available to agencies in 2020.