OPM releases new management guidance for aspiring leaders, supervisors, senior managers

Aspiring employees looking to climb the federal career ladder, mid-level managers eager to move up a rung, and senior executives interested in strengthening their grip on leadership skills have a new resource for accomplishing those goals.

The Office of Personnel Management issued a memo Sept. 28 with information about the Federal Supervisory and Managerial Frameworks and Guidance. The guidance is a federal supervisory training resource for new, experienced and senior managers. It includes detailed definitions and learning objectives that range from accountability to written communication, as well as a field guide supplement that shows the importance of training.

“Leading in the federal government comes with unique challenges that require supervisors and managers to both act and react with decisiveness, savvy, credibility and competence,” the memo stated. “For this reason, their proficiency in leadership competencies and human resources technical knowledge is important. Effective supervisors and managers impact employee engagement, communicate expectations, and affect organizational performance. Agencies must focus on developing effective leaders, if they are to move the needle on employee engagement and retention.”

The guidance, according to the memo, is the product of a collaborative effort between OPM and the Federal Chief Learning Officers Council (CLOC), and the creation of the Interagency Training Working Group (ITWG).

The work group, the memo said, used the Federal Supervisory Training Framework of 2012 and “further identified the most salient modern leadership competencies and HR-related technical knowledge on which to focus the new frameworks and guidance.”

The frameworks combine mandatory training — though OPM acknowledged there is not a specific number of required training hours — suggested training, and HR tips to help aspiring leaders. Agencies must offer training, OPM outlined, when an employee makes a “critical career transition” such as moving from a manager to executive position, or a supervisory position from a non-supervisory role.

One example of the framework lists that an aspiring team leader be competent at team building, while a new supervisor would need to be skilled at leveraging diversity. An experienced manager must foster employee engagement and a senior manager must demonstrate an ability to show entrepreneurship and vision.

“These resources cover both mandatory training and recommended training on leadership competencies and human resources (HR) technical knowledge, important for supervisory and managerial success,” the memo stated. “The materials also help agencies accomplish the delivery of required training for new supervisors, within one year of an employee’s initial appointment to a supervisory position, as well as refresher training to all supervisors and managers at least every three years, as mandated by 5 CFR 412.202.”

The guidance also goes into detail for each of the recommended skills and required training for managers and aspiring managers.

For instance, someone who is adept at conflict management by definition “encourages creative tension and differences of opinions. Anticipates and takes steps to prevent counterproductive confrontations. Manages and resolves conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.”

According to the framework, the objectives of being competent at conflict management include:

  • Identify conflict management styles and situations where they are most appropriate.
  • Describe the nature of conflict and its effects.
  • Identify causes of conflict.
  • Identify and address employee grievances.
  • Implement changes to ensure the work environment is fair and equitable based on employee concerns.
  • Manage and resolve conflicts and disagreements in a constructive manner.

A request for comment from OPM on the frameworks and guidance was not immediately returned. The guidance will be posted on OPM’s Manager’s Corner, which is accessed through HR University.

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