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Annex E: Glossary of terms

Accountability (Responsabilisation):

An obligation to answer for both what is done and how it is done. When accountabilities are written down they are considered official obligations. Commitments in the PMP are accountabilities. Unlike responsibilities, which can be distributed over many individuals at different levels, accountabilities tend to have only one point of reckoning - the individual executive.

Alignment (Harmonisation):

Two things are aligned when the logical link between them is clear. In the PMP, there are two fundamental types of alignment: alignment of commitments with (1) the Clerk's priorities and (2) departmental priorities. A commitment is aligned with the Clerk's priorities, for instance, when it makes a reference to at least one of these priorities. The Scorecard looks for clear alignment.

At-risk pay (Rémunération à risque):

The portion of an executive's salary that is dependent upon rated achievements for a fixed period of time and said to be at-risk or re-earnable depending on the degree to which performance expectations have been met. For EX-1 to EX-3s, at-risk pay is defined as up to 7% and for EX-4 to EX-5s, at-risk pay is defined as up to 10%.

Attainability (Atteignable):

Attainability is a standard used to judge commitments for the Scorecard. A commitment is attainable when it is within the individual's sphere of influence or control.

Attestation (Attestation):

A letter sent by deputy heads to the President of the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency of Canada personally attesting that: (1) each employee subject to PMP has a signed performance agreement and (2) the department or agency has a review mechanism to ensure the consistency and fairness of performance reviews. The letter should also state the expenditure on lump sums as a percentage of the executive payroll.

The amount an executive can earn for outstanding performance (in addition to at-risk pay). The bonus is limited to a specific amount by executive level - up to 3% for EX-1 to EX-3s and up to 5% for EX-4s and EX-5s.

Cascade (Réalisation en cascade):

One set of commitments is said to cascade into another when clear alignment exists between the two. For example, ADM commitments should cascade into those of DGs, and those of DGs into those of directors. Cascading ensures a high degree of vertical integration among executive commitments. The Web tools page, Cascading (link) has explanation and examples.

Clerk's Priorities (Priorités du greffier):

Each year, the Clerk of the Privy Council establishes corporate priorities for the Public Service of Canada. These priorities focus on areas where significant attention and progress is required to improve the administration of the Public Service. Executive performance agreements should align with these priorities when appropriate. They are available on the PCO web site.

Commitment (Engagement):

A specific, simple, and attainable statement, expressed in active language, of the results an executive commits to achieve, and by means of which an executive declares an individual accountability.

Competencies (Compétences):

A skill, ability or type of knowledge required to be successful in a certain job or role. In the PMP, the public service leadership competencies represent standards for assessing how an individual executive has carried out specific commitments. As such, they represent a basis for awarding performance pay under both ongoing and key commitments. The Leadership Competencies can be found on the web site of the Leadership Network.

Congruence (Conformité):

Congruence describes the degree of fit between a given performance measure and a commitment, on the one hand, and between a set of performance measures and a set of results recorded under Results Achieved, on the other hand. The Scorecard looks for evidence of congruence in both directions.

Disaggregation (Ventilation):

As commitments cascade from the EX-5 to the EX-1, they should become more specific in scope, or disaggregated. Disaggregation means that the commitment becomes more specific about who will do what at each successive level of executive.

Feedback (Rétroaction):

Feedback on performance in the PMP is provided primarily through the narrative assessment. While it is good management practice to provide feedback to employees throughout the performance cycle, the feedback in the narrative assessment should focus on the commitments, performance measures, and results achieved that appear in the performance accord. The feedback is thus focused feedback. Because it is recorded as the official assessment of performance, this feedback is also formal. Feedback in the narrative assessment should touch on several points:

  • The summary ratings for ongoing and key commitments
  • The specific accomplishments recorded under Results Achieved
  • The leadership competencies and their bearing on performance
  • Public service values and their bearing on performance
  • Special challenges the individual has faced in the course of the review period
  • Development that may be offered to improve performance.
Indicators (Indicateurs):

Indicators are specific measures of success. They are often confused with performance measures (see below), which are used not to measure success but rather to state clearly the criteria of success. For example, improvement in physical health is a standard performance measure for an exercise program. The actual improvements that people can make in their physical health can be measured with indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate and stress test results. PMP does not require the statement of indicators. Its focus is the performance measure.

Note: Indicators often appear under Results Achieved, for example:

  • 12 training events and information sessions held with employees and managers on the different elements of the PSMA by business line and region
In-range Movement (Mouvement salarial à l'intérieur de l'échelle):

The annual incremental increase by which base salaries move from the minimum of the salary range to the maximum established for the position. This enables an executive's salary to progress from the bottom to the top of the base salary range, usually in about three steps. Executives are eligible for in-range movement according to the extent they delivered on their ongoing commitments. Once a salary reaches the top of the range, no further movement is possible unless the whole range moves as an economic increase. The percentage of in-range movement depends on two factors: (1) the rating of performance on an ongoing commitments and (2) the position of the salary within the range.

Key Commitments (Engagements clés):

Key Commitments are areas of focus over and above ongoing commitments for the performance cycle. They may reflect change initiatives linked to business plans, corporate departmental priorities or Public Service priorities identified by the Clerk of the Privy Council as Head of the Public Service. They are intended to be challenging but achievable with effort.

  • Normally Key Commitments change from year to year
  • At least one (1) Key Commitment and a maximum of three (3) Key Commitments should be established per performance cycle.
Leadership Competencies (Compétences en leadership):

Four leadership competencies and accompanying definitions common to all management levels in all departments have been developed for the public service. Included in the model are specific Effective Behaviours for each competency for each of the six levels of the continuum, i.e. Deputy Minister (DM), Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), Director General (DG), Director, Manager, and Supervisor; and generic Ineffective Behaviours for each competency for all levels in the leadership continuum.


The Management Accountability Framework presents ten fundamental expectations for the performance of public sector executives. The MAF comes with a set of measures and indicators to gauge progress under these expectations. It is a useful reference source for writing management commitments related to managing either human or financial resources.

Measurability (Mesurabilité):

Measurability is a property of a good performance measure. That is to say, it should also be able to confirm to what extent the commitment has been achieved by reference to observation and measurement of performance.

Narrative Assessment (Évaluation descriptive):

Written feedback that is required at the end of the review period and that is aimed at assessing both the what and how of individual executive performance. The narrative assessment is a source of evidence for the performance rating. Narrative assessments should touch on:

  • Competencies the individual has demonstrated
  • Public service values the individual exemplifies
  • Special challenges the individual has faced
  • The potential the EX demonstrates for future growth
  • Gaps in performance and ways of addressing them
Ongoing Commitments (Engagements permanents):

Ongoing commitments are the principal results that executives are expected to accomplish so that the department can achieve its business mandate. They are linked to departmental business plans or priorities, and are reflective of the position description. As part of the continuing responsibilities of the position, they do not normally change from year to year. An ongoing commitment must state a definite accountability in relation to the executive, and should reflect a balanced representation of core accountabilities, such as financial management (budget), human resources management, business planning, policy development, operational program delivery, and self-development.

  • A minimum of four (4) and a maximum of seven (7) Ongoing Commitments should be established per performance cycle

The People Component of the MAF states general expectations for good HR management. It is a component of the broader Management Accountability Framework. The PCMAF is a useful resource to consult in writing HR-related ongoing commitments.

Performance (Rendement):

Performance deals both with the what and the how of fulfilling commitments. The what deals with the specific accomplishments of an executive, the how with the manner of carrying them out. The what is usually assessed in point form under Results Achieved. The how is often assessed in the more open texture of the narrative assessment.

Performance agreement (Entente de rendement):

The performance agreement is essentially a contract between an executive and his or her superior and is the documentary foundation of the PMP. A performance agreement contains the following basic parts:

  • ongoing and key commitments
  • performance measures
  • a record of results achieved in relation to these measures
  • a summary rating of performance
  • narrative assessments that address both the what and how of performance
  • signatures of the reviewing manager and the employer

An agreement template is available in Annex A of the PMP Directives

Performance assessment (Évaluation du rendement):

The act of determining whether, how, and why individual performance meets certain standards. The assessment typically results in a rating. The assessment is based both on the specific achievements recorded under Results Achieved and on the more open commentary of the narrative assessment.

Performance rating (Cote de rendement):

A performance rating is either a numerical or verbal rating that indicates the performance level of the individual. The PMP uses the numerical performance ratings below. Beside each are some of the word labels that have been used in the past, but departments and agencies may develop their own word labels, as desired, to suit their culture and organizational needs.

  • 4 "Surpassed"
  • 3 "Succeeded", "Met All" or "Met"
  • 2 "Met Most"
  • 1 "Did Not Meet" or "Did Not Meet Most"
  • 0 "Unable to Assess"

The descriptions for these levels of performance are part of the PMP Directives. The numerical ratings should be used in the annual report to PSHRMAC.

Performance Management (Gestion du rendement):

A comprehensive approach to improving performance that includes defining expectations and accountabilities, setting performance standards and measures, and assessing results.

Performance Measures (Mesures de rendement):

A performance measures is a criterion of success stated in relation to a specific ongoing or key commitment.

For example, for this commitment: "Prepare the department for the introduction of the PSMA by ensuring the executives at all levels understand their new responsibilities and accountabilities", the performance measures are:

  • Training on the delegated authorities of the PSMA is provided to executive managers across the department
  • A communications plan is created for the department and is used to educate managers and employees on PSMA
  • Department executives in the department are working to integrate HR planning into business planning
Performance pay (Rémunération au rendement):

Performance pay is pay based on an assessment of performance. It differs from base salary, which employees typically receive in virtue of holding a position and performing duties of a certain kind.

Results Achieved (Résultats atteints):

A section of the PMP template that records specific achievements relevant to an ongoing or key commitments. Achievements are usually recorded here in point form. This record of achievements is another important source of evidence for the performance rating. Examples:

  • Consultations held across the country with key stakeholders
  • Draft strategy presented for feedback to stakeholders and revisions introduced
  • Strategy presented to senior management committee and approved
Simplicity (Simplicité):

Simplicity is a standard used to judge commitments. A commitment is simple when it has one definite theme or topic. For example:

  • Develop service level agreements with the main client groups of the Branch
Specificity (Spécificité):

Specificity is a standard used to judge commitments. A commitment is specific if it is concisely expressed and based on a definite theme or topic. For example:

  • Develop a 5-year HR Planning Framework for the Branch
Summary rating (Résumé des cotes):

A summary rating is the rating assigned - either numerical or verbal - to the achievement of ongoing or to key commitments. The rating is summary in that it is assigned to all ongoing or all key commitments. Commitments should not be rated one at a time.

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