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Case Study
NSW Department of Communities and Justice

Helping to create a scaffold for what “good performance” looks like

Working with an Australian government department to develop a performance development project
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In June 2020, 3% of people at the NSW Department of Communities and Justice had completed a Performance Development Plan.


These plans are important because they reflect conversations between managers and the individuals in their team. The conversations are an opportunity to talk about goals, trade feedback, and create clarity on what ‘good performance’ looks like.

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The need for more frequent conversations


In 2019, the NSW Government brought together the departments of Family and Community Services and Justice to form the Department of Communities and Justice.


The Department partnered with imc Australia, seeking to embed a program that supports managers to have more frequent performance conversations that are not tethered to formal reviews.


Ten DCJ employees and two imc consultants worked together to co-design a solution that focused on gaining the audience's trust, attention, and motivation and delivered them the information and supports to manage for performance confidently.

Three workshops, one for discovery, the second for analysis and the third for conceptualisation and service mapping, were conducted. They focused on aligning the team to the vision and potential to design more than an eLearning module and still stay within scope.


By considering the managers, their challenges, but also the opportunity to make a more significant impact across the organisation, the design process put the managers' needs and the organisation's requirements at the heart of the solution.


A newly merged government department

The bringing together of people, processes and technology created a unique circumstance where over twenty thousand geographically dispersed people needed to collaborate in service of the taxpaying people of NSW.


Nationally, labour market data says that social assistance industries and organisations like the NSW Department of Communities and Justice are expected to grow by 14.2% before 2025.


With more employees, the Department recognised that a performance culture that aligned their people would be business-critical.

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Formal and informal learning

Launched from the DCJ LMS and intended to respond to any screen available to geographically diverse learners, this solution used three fundamental approaches:


  • Acknowledge the preconceived idea that performance conversations are difficult, uncomfortable, and unnecessary.
  • Include a hero who finds the confidence to have performance conversations and unintentional villains who detract from the hero’s journey.
  • Simplify the call to action.


To summarise the eLearning and focus on the ‘why’, a short animation was developed to act as a lightning rod to attract managers and employees' trust, attention, and motivation.


Understanding that talking about performance can be complex; the 3-minute animation demonstrates that performance conversations are an opportunity for managers and employees to work together and discuss opportunities. The target audience for the animation is wider and designed to create interest in the broader program.


Building on Success

To be precise, 6,960 people have been given a genuine opportunity to discuss their career aspirations and goals.


The increase in Performance Development Plans proves that the performance support project that scaffolded the existing performance management responsibilities has worked to:

  • impart skills needed to have performance conversations in a compelling and productive way.
  • instilled managers with the confidence and motivation to engage in a performance conversation.


There are approximately 3,900 managers at DCJ, 1,035 of whom have completed the program.


This means that 4.8% of DCJ employees have created an impact on 1 in 3 of their colleagues.


imc and the Department of Communities and Justice were recognised as Gold winners in the 2021 LearnX awards. The international award program honours innovative and creative projects in the fields of learning and design every year.

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Increased accomplishments of Performance Development Plans
32.4% employees finalised their plans, a 30% increase in comparison to last year
Reinforce managers' confidence for Performance conversations with their team
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The performance program helped me feel more confident in having really meaningful conversations with each of my employees. It was easy to follow, has great resources and even a short video clip which made it engaging. I truly recommend it to any manager and often refer to it in my current role as a HR Business Partner.
NSW Department of Communities and Justice