Civil Service Reform
Civil Service Commission

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Beginning in 2011, two events occurred that led to this change initiative. First, Israel joined the OECD, prompting it to assess itself relative to other countries in the organisation. This assessment led to the convening of the Civil Service Reform Commission, whose goal was to improve the effectiveness of the public sector, attract qualified individuals into public service, dismiss inadequate workers, develop managerial flexibility, provide improved working conditions to keep talented individuals in its employ, create a challenging and financially rewarding work environment, promote esprit de corps and offer long-term career advancement opportunities. The second event came in the summer of 2011, when Israel experienced an unprecedented wave of protests demanding changes in Israeli policy and the rebuilding of the welfare state. The targets of most of the protests were Israeli politicians, whom the protesters argued had neglected the middle class and made it impossible for the average family to live with dignity. Following the unprecedented social protest, the Israeli government established the Trachtenberg Committee to develop recommendations for socio-economic change. The committee’s report emphasized that the failures of the public sector should be at the heart of the government’s priorities. The committee found five fundamental structural failings in the Civil Service and the public sector which are: execution of policy, overbearing bureaucracy, human resource management, a lack of lateral perspective and cooperation, a gap in the abilities to think, plan policy, measure and control. Proving success of a cultural and workforce morale transformation is difficult but was a primary goal when creating this initiative. Every activity was created with the goal of not just measuring outputs but also outcomes and the desired outcomes were made very clear by societal protests, media coverage, and Commission reports (explained in detail later in the document.) Similarly, the desire of the employees for an improvement in the civil service matched the motivation of society at large, accelerating the adoption process for both clients and stakeholders. The Israeli civil service aimed to accomplish three main goals by overlaying communication forum, building trust, and improving morale with a performance evaluation system. The stagnation in the bureaucratic system has eroded management’s trust that honest conversations can result in honest results. Likewise, the system has deflated employees’ belief that performance and ambition will be rewarded. Second, the goal was to motivate workers to take charge of their career development and improve morale by giving them regular and meaningful interaction with senior managers. And lastly, to motivate managers to take both the evaluation process and career development goals of their employees more seriously. In the short term, when workers evaluation is done in the right way it is a tool to motivate workers which includes feedback and skills and performance review; it creates two-way communication between the manager and his employees. The messaging plan contributes to improvement of the individual’s performance; it creates coordination of expectations for the purposes of future action – for the employee, the manager and the organization as a system.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
The proposed solution, developed by both external committees and government leaders aimed to ensure that the Israeli government is not only evaluating the skills and performance of employees, but also better responding to the needs of society and the governed population. Beyond the moral component that comes with management’s ownership of an employee’s progress and promotion, the system will ensure leaders and specialists are promoted to their highest potential, and best serving the complex needs of a growing and dynamic society. Part of this process is to map educational and training needs to ensure employees are provided the right skill sets for their career growth and future positions before they are chosen to fulfill these roles. The performance evaluation tool has provided enormous benefit to the Israeli government’s, i.e. the stakeholder’s, organizational goals. First, it strengthens the tie between the work effort of the employees and management’s strategic and performance goals. It provides a venue to adjust and improve day-to-day activities to better align with the needs of the agency. Finally, it increases productivity through a more highly motivated workforce which is now better aware of their work requirements and the needs of management and society at large, i.e. the clients. In the recent survey, 58% of the workers felt free to suggest ideas and offers about what they can do differently on their work and 39% of the workers thought the received feedback would allow them to do their work better.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Both the processes and the overlaying tool uniquely promotes communication as the underlying fabric bringing together these various career evaluation and growth components – specifically addressing the primary motivation barrier voiced by the employees of the civil service. The tool helps managers communicate feedback, mission goals, and support career growth through specific modules and training and provides employees with the formal structure to understand their performance while planning for their future success and career growth. Unlike similar tools, this effort transforms nearly every aspect of evaluation and career growth into initiatives that are built around communication between a manager and the employee with the fundamental goal of improving morale, trust in the system, trust in management, and openness and integrity in the process. The tool provided live scenarios for managers to use when confronted with specific and unique conversations with employees. The scenarios play out some common questions, reactions to support the manager in making decisions. A demonstration of the educational software and online simulations supporting the workers evaluation training across the civil service of the state is below. This software focuses both at theoretical and practical aspects of the process of the workers evaluation and providing feedback.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Israeli Civil Service started by analyzing the root cause of a broken evaluation and career growth model, low employee morale, and distrust between management, employees and the bureaucratic system that governed their work environment based on survey of 640 senior managers, focus groups of 61 agency heads, and individual interviews with 45 departmental leaders. The strategic goals were defined by an independent Commission but the project scope was implemented based on very precise and pointed feedback from these professionals within the government and best practices gleaned from private sector companies who completed similar initiatives. Timelines were developed with an aim to methodically implement both the tool and the process with specific milestones for performance of both the technology and the techniques. Both the scope and the rollout were developed with significant input from management and the HR senior officials in each of the pilot agencies. In addition to piloting this initially in just 6 of the 54 government agencies, the Civil Service Commission conducted mini-pilots of subsets within the pilot program to validate in real time that the scope was correct. Starting with baseline data gathered in 2011, the project aimed to improve performance evaluation and strengthen communication between management and staff. Until the end of 2013 the Civil Service Commission (CSC) needed to develop the model including the pilot to validate the model. The goal of this development was to provide and receive guidance on the model from the key core participants who participated in the goal-setting. By the beginning of 2014, CSC rolled out all the evaluation metrics and tools – 8,043 managers, with the evaluation and communication processes and guidance including the supporting technology tools. During this time, the management was given intensive training in how to administer the new process including digital training, tutorials, and counseling. Over the course of 2014, the communication and performance tool and process were administered to the pilot agencies (six agencies) which covered 4,200 people. The implementation strategy is based on two fundamental basic concepts. The first is 'implementation as a process' and a 'telescopic approach' which begins with small changes and then builds each year to more challenging reforms. Thus, the first stage focuses on the reform of the Nachshon offices (Ministry of Health, economic, religious services and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Space). Based on the insights gleaned from this process, the program will be adjusted and applied to ten more offices. The second fundamental concept is the establishment of a circular and spiral process, reflecting the insights that arise during any stage of the program. This strategy underscores the conviction of the committee members that they have to focus on changing the fundamentals of the civil service including its basic values, organizational culture and language. The committee members recognize that they have to tackle deep-rooted and fundamental problems. The three-year program consists of the following steps: 1) strategy formulation, 2) ensuring resources for reform, 3) building operations given the needs and resources available and 4) evaluation. Thus, an important component of the implementation is the difference in its focus and efforts during the years of the implementation process (ibid): • 2013: Most of the efforts are focused on the design of the reform and the formulation of its implementation. • 2014: Application of the reform in several ministries (Nachshon offices), validation of concepts and policies, and the development of insights from it. • 2015: Implementation of these insights and updating the plan, as well as implementation of the second round in ten other government ministries. • 2016: Completion of implementation of the reform in all government offices.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Israeli government, like many around the world, has a top-down management culture and a very strong union role representing the employees. The Civil Service Commission recognized this dynamic and leveraged it for success in implementation. Publicly demonstrated support from the Prime Minister’s office, and from the leaders of all the Departments was established. Then, senior level managers were recruited to conceptually buy-in to the change. The value proposition was co-created with this group to ensure they understand the benefits to their organization and that the effort is not being forced upon them from another office. The relationships built from the civil service reform office, with union leadership was critical to success. The unions supported this initiative despite initial misgivings about the role the evaluation results will play in the employees’ career and compensation. Proving to them that this was a benefit for employees was an important milestone for union buy-in. When they saw the tool and the processes, they had no choice but to acknowledge that this innovation solved some of their key constituent complaints. The fact that both the politicians and Ministry of Finance bureaucrats are actively supporting these steps increases the chances of success. However, the Histadrut, Israel’s labour union, will have a great deal of say over the ultimate success or failure of the reform. Externally, the initiative gained valuable best practices and benchmarking metrics from the private sector. While the initiative was built internally as “a home grown” tool, a lot of the success markers were developed by observing Israel’s industry leaders. Companies such as Intel, Teva, and members of the banking community were interviewed extensively for advice and guidance.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The total sum of the project is $566,000 USD: Financial resources: the cost of the project is: $395,000 USD for the initial development stage and includes the direct expense on funding consulting companies and other professional agents that helped in creating the new perception, the costs of the development of the new technological and applicative interface system, the costs of development guidance tools (such as short films, simulator, written manuals and printing costs), the costs of assimilation and actual guidance. In addition, there are internal human resource costs of approximately $132,000 USD. In this costs CSC included the government professionals’ time that are invested in the initiative. This time was spent in the development stage (doctrine and procedures, technology and tools), validating the perception (conducting pilots among the people in the agencies that were about to use the model), trainings to evaluators, launching the initiative, evaluating the results and refining the model. In addition, there are overhead costs of $39,000 USD that include the costs of the bid processes, outsourcing connection, renting accommodation and overhead costs. Funding sources: this is a governmental project that is funded fully by the Treasury, as part of the overall budget for the reform of human asset management in the civil service of Israel.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The employee evaluation data in the Civil Service for 2011, the baseline year to initiate the reform, presents the following picture: average performance review was an inflated 9.62 out of 11. The survey conducted regarding the conduct of the feedback conversation points to 44% of the employees in the Civil Service not receiving an annual feedback talk at all. These data reflect a problematic situation, that testifies to a certain extent to a weakness in the managerial system and a lack of awareness of managerial commitment to conduct dialogue and feedback talks with the employees – in the setting of which the annual coordination of expectations takes place, clarity regarding the tasks that must be focused on is created, and the employee is given a space where he is listened to, his feelings, and an expression of his ambition, are acknowledged. These data and the circumstances of their creation testify both to a weakness on behalf of the Civil Service Commission as the guiding professional body and to a feeling of lack of faith in the importance of conducting feedback and the possibility to realize any practical action arising from it: a lack of real meaning to reward those that were prominent for the better , and the system’s weakness in taking sanctions against those whose performance review points to them being unsuitable. For the performance evaluation initiative, the central goal was to get all 4,200 to fill the evaluation form. The result of the new initiative was a 98% current response rate, up from 44%, a demonstrable success reflecting a significant closure of the performance gap. Another goal was to allocate a standard deviation model because the manager was very good at determining extremes (good and bad) but not the middle. The interim goal was to just tell 15% of the top performers. The system distributed the rest based on responses. The system was closed after 15% for the rest.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
During the implementation CSC tracked 80 managers doing evaluation for 180 employees of the 4,200 in the six agencies. And created 6 mini-pilots to evaluate ‘real time’ on-going. One goal was to see the potential of the implementation in real time because of the cultural environment in different agencies to see if there are differences in the agencies and what CSC needed to do to implement the best way. The Civil Service Commission formed and applied a process of benchmarking in the field of human resource management for all government ministries and support units, a process that will make use of a wide range of indicators in the field of human resource management. The benchmarking will enable the Civil Service Commission, the management of the ministries, the senior deputy directors for human resources, and other decision makers, to receive a clear and accurate picture, both quantitative and qualitative, regarding various and important dimensions of human resource management in the Civil Service. Use of a range of indicators will constitute a tool to reflect the gaps between policy, strategy and operational guidelines in the field of human resource management, and the outcomes of human resource management in practice. The system-wide indicators according to which government ministries will be measured in the field of human resource management will be as follows: 1. Adaptation of the organization to its tasks, goals and purposes. 2. Human capital development. 3. Planning in relation to the populations that constitute the core of the organization’s activity. 4. Quality of management. 5. The system of labor relations. 6. Values, discipline and integrity. 7. Variable indicators per the Civil Service Commissioner’s decision – attainment of annual and perennial system-wide targets. These indicators will be based on data received from three axes of evaluation: the axis of the management of ministries – directors general and members of management, the axis of regulation by the professional reference unit in the Commission, and the axis of the surveys of the office employees’ positions. The position survey will examine the following indices: organizational climate, working environment, job satisfaction and satisfaction from the team, the quality of management, promotion prospects, the relationships in the organization, levels of identification with the organizations and feelings of relation to it, perceptions of the organization’s influence and the quality of its methods.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
When forming recommendations for reform, there is an inherent tension between the desires to reach utopia and resolving all the areas needed rectify the current situation, and the understanding that the recommendations must be viewed through a responsible and realistic prism. The Committee members viewed their responsibility not only as reporting that which requires reform, but mainly to present a feasibly implementable plan. The question of feasibility led the Committee’s work in distinguishing innovative processes from evolutionary ones, issues that can be implemented immediately from those that require assimilation stage after stage, issues in relation to which there is full clarity from those that require examination and updating in the setting of implementing the reform and the Commission’s responsibility. In this context, thought was given to the possible difficulties and obstacles, the various vested interests, the sphere of labor relations, and the understanding that implementation of the reform is not done in a vacuum, but rather in a complex environment with many vested interests, some of which conflict. The evaluation of the pilot just concluded and the CSC learned that they need to go directly to the employees, not just through the managers. Given the practicalities of the roll-out initiative, more intensive training was provided to managers and self-learning instructional kit provided to staff. This led to inconsistent results and varied communication of the roll-out process because our communication was only with the HR team VP and the management. The employees didn’t initially get the message. Some managers did it well but a lot of employees did not understand the value.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The influence of workers evaluation implementation can be seen in three areas: 1. Strengthening the ability of differential development of human workforce in the governmental agencies. Performance management as basis of employees and managers growth in the civil service of the state of Israel. 2. Getting back the trust in the organizational system: in the process of assimilating the evaluation, there was a lot of criticism towards the treatment in the human asset. CSC found that the activity of workers evaluation and the way of assimilation is crucial to the development of the human asset and strengthens the trust of the workers in the organizational system. 3. Assimilation of operational goals coordination to the process of workers evaluation – productivity by focusing. Succeeding in assimilating the approach of the direct connection of concrete operational missions to evaluating abilities. For example: the analysis CSC did showed that 98% of the managers set operational goals for their workers for the next working year. After the pilot program was initiated, a survey was conducted to garner feedback before full-scale implementation of the initiative. From six government agencies, 844 respondents provided the following feedback validating the progress and direction of the initiative: • Attached are the questions in which CSC succeeded to get positive results: • 60% of the workers felt that the feedback gave them an opportunity to voice their opinion regarding different issues. 18% were neutral about it. The mean is 3.6 out of 5. • 58% of the workers felt free to suggest ideas and offers about what they can do differently on their work. 20% were neutral about it. The mean is 3.5 out of 5. • 58% of the workers felt that they can discuss new issues during the feedback conversation. 19% were neutral about it. The mean is 3.5 out of 5. • 69% of the workers agreed that they were given an opportunity to express how they feel about the evaluation received by their manager. 14% were neutral about it. The mean is 3.8 out 5. • 56% of the workers were satisfied with the way the worker evaluation process was conducted. 27% were neutral about it. The mean is 3.4 out of 5. • 38% of the workers thought the feedback would help them to progress professionally; 20% were neutral about it. • 39% thought the received feedback would make them to do their work better. 20% neutral about it. The mean is 2.9 out of 5. • 51% thought that the new process of evaluation was better that the process of evaluation in previous years. 23% were neutral about it The second goal was to impact behavior by instituting process steps. As mentioned before, the average performance review was an inflated 9.62 out of 11. By explaining the value of a normal bell curve, the assessment average dropped to a more realistic 5.33 average versus the previous baseline of 9.62. The statistical inference is that managers understood the new rating scales and were more accurate at determining the relative impact of their workers in relation to each other. In the past, managers were good at determining extremes (good and bad) but not the middle. The interim goal was to just have 15% of the staff as top performers which was achieved.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Organizational change takes time. As with any change, especially in a large government organization, there will be some eager early adopters and many more resistant to change. Overcoming the skepticism of the group that is resistant to change was the primary challenge to success. The initiative approached this through a three-pronged approach. First, the initiative took advantage of significant championing from senior leadership who helped co-create this initiative with the reform group. Their advocacy accelerated buy-in from their subordinates. Second, the initiative co-opted the energy and excitement from the early adopters and used their advocacy to help convince their peers about the value of the initiative. Finally, an engaging and thorough training program was implemented for managers and staff before taking part in the pilot. The training alleviated concerns that may have arisen for what a manager and staff should do in this environment and what the outcomes will be when completed successfully. Understanding in advance the effort needed, the steps required, and the expected results, helped alleviate many management and employee concerns. The Civil Service evaluation and management environment was an area with institutional apathy prior to initiating these reforms. Very few managers were making an effort to communicate regularly with the employees, provide constructive feedback, or invest in the future success of the employees. This was best reflected in the near universal low morale of the employees. The pervasive disinterest was due to a lack of rewards for the employees and accountability for the management. The initial pilot results were measured by significant employee and management surveys. The results were astounding. Over 90% of pilot participants valued the program and felt it improved both morale and employee effectiveness on the job. The current methods of survey, focus groups, and pilot studies will continue through final implementation and into the sustainment period. The feedback, coupled with specific performance measures will be utilized to determine if the program is self-sustaining. The initial year’s data serves as a benchmark against which future results will be measured. In addition to the annual quantitative analysis, the CSC must continue to drive change through senior leadership advocacy. The hope is that a cultural transformation led by workers’ motivation for career growth, incentive-driven performance, and better communication with management and a more motivated workforce will institutionalize this initiative.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
At the conclusion of the workers evaluation pilot in the six agencies, the CSC initiated a comprehensive evaluation in order to get insights. The evaluation process included meetings with focus groups that worked according to After Action Review (AAR) methodology. In addition, CSC disseminated satisfaction surveys to all the workers and managers within the six pilot agencies. CSC had eight information gathering meetings with different focus groups that brought a wide range of viewpoints. Three meetings were aimed to investigate specific aspects of the process – the aspect of methodology, guidance and assimilation, and finally technology. In each one of the meetings the representatives of the staff and the representatives of the agencies that were involved in the area participated. Five more meetings dealt with different groups in the process; one group of human resource vice presidents, two groups of managers from different levels, and two groups of workers that got evaluations from their managers. The main methodology that was followed in the investigation meetings of the focusing groups was AAR. This widely used methodology was first developed in the US Army and is now used widely in the evaluation process. AAR methodology is based on four main questions: 1. What did CSC expect to happen? 2. What actually happened? 3. Why did this happened? Trying to understand the cause? 4. What can CSC learn from it for the future? Lessons and insights. From this process CSC concluded four main lessons: 1. CSC succeeded in accomplishing a universally accepted messaging for the initiative. Coordination between the direct and indirect supervisors of the workers, which did not previously exist, was a correct step conceptually. 2. The evaluation indicated that it is crucial to communicate and publish the new evaluation process before launching the initiative, and continue communication throughout the process. Communicating change in the “right way” is a crucial component to the success of the process. The communicating should be conducted uniquely for the three populations in the agencies; senior managers, middle managers and employees. Feedback from the evaluation showed CSC that the communication effort was both high quality and on-message. 3. CSC learned that there is significant importance to connecting the evaluation process and an incentive system; both material and non-material rewards. As a result, the commissioner wrote a personal appreciation letter to each one of the top-performing employees in order to express his appreciation for their effort. This letter is an example of a non-material reward that is the direct result of the evaluation process. Of course, this is one of the many incentives the CSC is initiating to strengthen the connection. 4. The new evaluation process ushered in a cultural change in creating and setting individual professional goals and a system to measure success in achieving them. In the different evaluation meetings CSC concluded that managing through goals made the feedback conversations between management and employees, deeper and more significant.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Civil Service Commission
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Ron Tzur
Title:   Direct  
Telephone/ Fax:   972-506292790
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   The Reform Staff, The Prime Minister's Office, Kaplan 3, Kiryat Ben Gurion
Postal Code:   91950
City:   Jerusalem

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