Preconditions for succeeding

The senior management in central government is an important resource for the Government. Its commitment, capabilities and operating conditions have a crucial impact on how the societal objectives are realised. Meaningful tasks and professional performance management support succeeding in the management tasks.  The key stages in performance management include agreeing on the objectives, providing guidance and support for achieving them, evaluating the results, and the necessary development, rewarding and support measures. 

A well-working dialogue between the manager and the supervisor is essential for the manager’s successful performance. Management discussions between the managers and their supervisors increase the shared understanding of what is good management. Mutual trust and a genuine dialogue in which both parties become heard and understood are the precondition for successful interaction. At best, management discussions are also places for learning together. They are held when necessary, however, at least once a year. 

Good management also requires effective feedback. The most senior civil servants also have the right to receive feedback on their management work. First of all, it makes it possible to agree on the support and development measures required by the manager. Furthermore, it promotes fair play when the manager’s service relationship is discussed.

Management agreements and management discussions support performance management

Management agreements are an essential tool for setting the objectives for the most senior civil servants and monitoring their performance. As part of the steering process of the operating unit, the management agreement must be compatible with the performance agreement and the budget framework. The perfor-mance agreements of the agencies determine the objectives for the activities, i.e. what will be done, and the management agreements determine how the agency will be managed so that the objectives can be achieved. A well-working dialogue between the manager and the supervisor is essential when the agree-ments are drawn up, making it possible to also agree on the development measures and support needed by the manager. The management agreement procedure has been in use in central government since 2005. In 2019, it was conducted with one half of the most senior civil servants. 

In 2017, the Ministry of Finance reformed the management agreement procedure and the content areas of the agreements and provided instructions for them. The reform simplified and harmonised the agreement procedure and adapted it to the performance agreement procedure of government agencies. The new agreement model includes: 

  • common management objectives in central government (based on the Government’s objectives) 
  • key performance targets (to be linked) 
  • management and leadership (the ministry’s and the agency’s objectives) 
  • personal development and service relationship of managers (informal)
  • The Ministry of Finance continues to develop the management agreement procedure and the content of the management agreements. The Ministry has also examined the suitability of management agreement practices for the permanent secretaries at the ministries and prepared a specific model for the management discussion and a support package to be applied to discussions between ministers and permanent secretaries. 

Rewarding nature of the tasks

Meaningful management tasks, good development opportunities and competitive terms of employment as a whole ensure the competitiveness of central government as an employer in the labour market. Central government must at all times be able to attract and retain qualified managers and supervisors who have the capacity to develop. 

It is particularly important to introduce and develop diverse rewarding methods at economically difficult times. These may include various competence development methods, such as new types of tasks possibly with more responsibility, training or deepening or widening of expertise through mobility and the rotation of personnel. Systematic planning of competence development and flexible career opportunities and career path options are important incentives in central government positions. In addition, societally important tasks and the value base of the operation are strengths when central government competes for managers and other personnel.

Stick to what is agreed. Final report of the working group on management agreements, publication of the Ministry of Finance, 39/2016 (Abstract in English) 

Contact information

Ari Holopainen 
Senior Ministerial Adviser, Financial Affairs 
tel. +358 295 530 520 
[email protected]