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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 309

(Question No. 1574)

Senator Calvert asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 22 July 1994:

  (1) What type of videos were purchased from Vitascope Productions, St Kilda, at a cost of $40,000, through the Corporate Services Division, Services Branch?

  (2) How many videos "Side by Side" and "Face to Face" were purchased?

  (3) How will these videos be used?

  (4) Who will use them?

  (5) Please provide a brief outline of what these two videos are about.

Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

  (1) On 21 June 1994, the Department, through its Services Branch, purchased a quantity of "Face to Face" performance appraisal training videos and software, and one "Side by Side" Corporate Pack performance agreement training videos and software. Each "Face to Face" pack contains two videos (Video 1 for managers and Video 2 for appraisees), three booklets (Leaders Guide, and a booklet each for Videos 1 and 2), and one computer disk (containing text files of the three booklets, thus enabling customisation). The "Side by Side" Corporate Pack contains two videos, three manuals and ten CompuTutors (software enabling simultaneous performance agreement training and the production of a performance agreement).

  (2) A total of 30 "Face to Face" packs, and one "Side by Side" Corporate Pack were purchased, at a total cost of $40,000.

  (3) The Department has this year introduced a new performance appraisal system for officers both at home and overseas, and accords its implementation high priority. The training system, purchased from Vitascope Productions after careful consideration by management and training staff, is well suited to the Department's needs. Five of the "Face to Face" packs will be used to assist in performance appraisal training of Departmental staff based in Canberra. The training will take one of three forms:

  scheduled training workshops of up to three hours, led by a Departmental trainer and using the videos to supplement other performance management techniques;

  ad hoc Branch and Division training as requested, led by a Departmental trainer; and

  individual home or work-station based training, whereby an officer borrows the video on a short term basis.

  The balance of "Face to Face" packs will be used for post and regional office performance appraisal training. One pack will be sent to each post and regional office on a one month rotation, so that within a three to four month period all posts and regional offices will have had an opportunity to use the packs either through a workshop or individual use. A performance appraisal manual will accompany the pack, with instructions for how the workshop should be conducted.

  The capacity of "Face to Face" to be used by non-expert trainers was one of its attractions for this Department. Within a very little time, with the aid of the Leaders Guide booklet, an officer at post can act as trainer. Thus, considerable money is saved and posts and regional offices are able to have the benefits of performance management training.

  The "Side by Side" Corporate Pack has been purchased on a trial basis, to test its value in two contexts:

  as a database tool which allows management to monitor the translation of the Departmental mission statement into practical performance agreements; and

  as a training tool for performance agreements.

  (4) The "Face to Face" training packs will be used by all officers of the Department, whether employed in Canberra, at a regional office or at an overseas mission or post. The "Side by Side" Corporate Pack will be used by a small number of Senior Officers and SES as a trial for its potential wider application to senior management performance agreements.

  (5) "Face to Face" provides guidance in the conduct of performance appraisals from the perspective of both the appraiser and appraisee. Both videos present two appraisal scenarios (in a neutral work environment, using professional actors). The first is an employee and her supervisor who both dread appraisal because both approach it in the wrong way. The second scenario shows performance appraisal conducted well. The scenarios are structured such that the good manager advises the poor manager as to how to get more out of appraisal (Video 1 and Booklet 1), and the well-managed employee helps the poorly managed employee get the most out of her appraisal (Video 2 and Booklet 2). The booklet and accompanying overhead projections clearly indicate appraisal do's and don'ts.

  "Side by Side", on the other hand, is structured as a meeting of managers (using the same neutral work environment and the same actors), discussing the merits of striking performance agreements. As such, it is far more didactic in tone than "Face to Face", but is nevertheless extremely interesting as a training tool, run by the officer him- or herself together with supervisor, which actually results in a complete performance agreement at the end of the process.