This resource was produced by a joint project team from Public Service departments, the Public Service Association and the State Services Commission. June 2004.See also Guidelines on Structured Secondments and Structured Secondments: Base Secondment Agreement .

Checklist for the Host Manager

Steps

Process

Prior to the secondment

 

Identify short-term capability need and whether a secondment is appropriate

Determine there are good reasons 1 to seek a secondment as opposed to:

  • filling a fixed-term vacancy
  • making a permanent appointment, or
  • contracting a temporary consultant.

Advertise the secondment

See Appendix B for the template to advertise secondments, or click here to advertise secondments on Government Jobs Online.

Advertise secondments to internal staff also.

Identify the most appropriate person for the position

Use the organisation's existing selection processes, taking into account:

  • the good employer and merit principles
  • the capability needs of the organisation, and
  • the development goals of the individual.

Undertake security and other relevant background checks, if required.

Negotiate terms and conditions of the secondment

The secondment agreement has three parties - the secondee, their home organisation and the host organisation. The secondment agreement identifies remuneration, allowances, start date, duration, reviews, performance appraisal, etc. Attached to it is a Duties and Development Plan, to identify the work objectives and development initiatives.

The agreement must ensure that expectations, accountabilities and performance objectives are clear to all parties.

The home and host managers agree how the secondee's performance will be assessed, who will conduct the assessment, how often, how the information will be fed back to the secondee, and how it will be delivered to the home manager.

Finalise agreement

After all three parties sign the secondment agreement:

  • Advise unsuccessful applicants. There is no right of appeal for unsuccessful applicants.
  • Advise payroll and finance in both organisations about invoice and leave arrangements.
  • Advise staff in both organisations about the secondment: who has been seconded, when they will start and what their objectives will be.

During the secondment

 

Induct the secondee

Treat the secondee like any new recruit, by

  • erring on the side of over-induction;
  • tailoring the induction process;
  • including the secondee in planning meetings and social events.

Complete personnel requirements.

Provide resources on the organisation's policies and procedures, and introduce the secondee to key contacts.

Explain access to the building, IT systems, etc.

Provide feedback

Encourage and answer any questions on an ongoing basis.

Provide constructive feedback to the secondee within a couple of days on how they are settling into the work environment and how they are undertaking the assignment/project etc.

Adhere to the timetable set out in the secondment agreement for feedback and review.

Meet development needs and/or ensure transfer of skills

Deliver on the commitment made in the Duties and Development Plan.

Discuss the secondee's progress in regular formal interim reviews.

Assess if there are any other development needs and/or whether the opportunities for skills transfer have been provided.

Monitor "stretch" assignments.

Review the secondment

Continually review the purpose/outcome of the secondment.

Identify any problems.

Come to an agreement for changes.

Maintain contact with secondee's home organisation

Keep in touch with the secondee's home organisation.

Provide feedback to the home manager. Seek their input if there are any problems.

If problems arise

Deal with problems as you would in any other instance by

  • acting immediately and consulting appropriately;
  • inviting open discussion, listening actively, and providing honest, constructive feedback;
  • involving the home organisation if appropriate;
  • considering what is best for the individual, the host and the home organisation.

Invoke early termination only as the last resort.

At conclusion of secondment

 

Evaluate the secondment

Evaluate the secondment separately from the performance appraisal process for the secondee.

Evaluate what went well in the secondment process, what did not go well and what should be done differently next time.

Provide Human Resources with a copy of the evaluation.

If relevant, update the secondment agreement for future secondments.

Checklist for the Home Manager

Steps

Process

Prior to the secondment

 

Identify whether external secondment is an appropriate option to meet a capacity need in another Public Service organisation or a development need for an individual staff member

Respond to:

  • a request from a staff member who suggests a secondment would assist their development or wants to contribute their skills, or
  • an identified need for particular skills in another organisation.

Identify whether this is an appropriate learning intervention or capability offer, taking into account the home organisation's need to consider their business needs, including:

  • work deadlines or commitments;
  • the current staffing level within the team;
  • how the position could be back-filled.

Approval for a secondment request should not be unreasonably withheld. However, if approval is withheld, meet formally with the staff member to discuss the reasons. Discuss other available options.

Consider how to back-fill the secondee's position

Options include:

  • appointing a colleague to 'act' in the position;
  • bringing in a secondment, or a contractor;
  • an internal rotation;
  • a fixed-term appointment; or
  • a reallocation of duties, provided this can be done without placing stress on remaining staff.

Design the secondment

Identify the specific benefits and learning objectives of the proposed secondment and include them in the Duties and Development Plan.

Discuss the desired outcomes of the secondment with the host manager.

Reach a mutual agreement with the host and secondee.

Negotiate terms and conditions of the secondment

The secondment agreement has three parties - the secondee, their home organisation and the host organisation. The secondment agreement identifies remuneration, allowances, start date, duration, reviews, performance appraisal, etc. Attached to it is a Duties and Development Plan, to identify the work objectives and development initiatives.

The agreement must ensure that expectations, accountabilities and performance objectives are clear to all parties.

The home and host managers agree how the secondee's performance will be assessed, who will conduct the assessment, how often, how the information will be fed back to the secondee, and how it will be delivered to the home manager

Complete the secondment agreement

Home manager, host manager and secondee sign the secondment agreement.

Advise payroll

Advise payroll of the secondee's pending departure and expected date of return.

Pre-secondment performance appraisal

Complete a performance appraisal of the secondee before the secondment commences.

Identify how to maintain contact

Maintaining contact throughout the secondment ensures:

  • the secondee continues to feel part of their 'home' team;
  • the secondee keeps informed about their home organisation; and
  • a smooth transition occurs when the secondee returns.

Set in place a system for maintaining regular contact with the secondee, for instance by:

  • forwarding key emails and documents to the secondee;
  • regularly meeting and/or talking with the secondee; and
  • inviting the secondee to planning or other key meetings where any major changes or introductions of new policies are being discussed.

Plan for the secondee's return

Prior to the secondee's departure, plan how you will use the experience you expect this person to gain on secondment.

After the secondment starts

 

Stay in touch with the secondee

Keep the secondee informed on a regular basis of news and events from their team and the organisation as a whole.

If problems arise

Deal with problems as you would in any instance where problems with an employee arise.

Refer to the secondment agreement.

If the problem lies with the secondee, ensure they have discussed the problem in depth with the host manager. There may be a need to move the problem to a formal process. If a work situation arises in the home organisation that means the secondment needs to be terminated, or if, for example, the work in the host department ends early, discuss the situation with the host manager and the secondee and reach mutual agreement.

Invoke early termination only as the last resort.

At conclusion of the secondment

 

Prepare for the secondee's re-entry

Prior to their return, discuss the secondee's expectations and concerns with them. The person may

  • see their previous position in a different light;
  • have higher expectations;
  • feel like a 'visitor';
  • find the organisation and people have changed.

What are the secondee's new expectations as a result of the secondment? Help the secondee re-adjust by:

  • jointly identifying how the person can continue to be challenged and developed;
  • having suitable work tasks prepared for the secondee, to commence upon their return;
  • fully re-inducting the secondee into your home organisation;
  • providing the secondee with a 'buddy', preferably someone with personal experience of returning from a secondment.

Ensure the host manager has completed a performance appraisal of the secondee's performance during the secondment tenure. Discuss the secondment with the host manager, to identify any areas not mentioned by the secondee. Help the secondee re-adjust by:

  • discussing with the secondee the setting of new performance objectives and development plan goals.

Consider ways the secondee's new skills can be used. How can you assist the secondee to build on the experiences gained on secondment? What are your new expectations of the secondee as a result of the secondment? Help the secondee re-adjust by:

  • avoiding bringing the secondee back into a position with less responsibility and autonomy than they had while on secondment and prior to departing on their secondment;
  • being open to opportunities to use the secondee's new skills and knowledge to enhance the capability of your team; and
  • dealing with any problems promptly and appropriately.

Evaluate the secondment process

After three months an evaluation of the secondment should cover what went well, what did not go well, and what should be done differently next time. Evaluate whether the secondment resulted in the secondee demonstrating increased competencies, or whether the desired transfer/injection of skills was achieved.

Provide Human Resources with a copy of your evaluation, which may be used to update the responsibilities section in the secondment agreement for future secondments.

Checklist for the Secondee

Steps

Process

Prior to the secondment

 

Identify the purpose of seeking a secondment

A secondment may be:

  • an opportunity to meet development needs identified during a formal development need process (e.g. performance appraisal, development/learning plan, career plan, etc.);
  • an opportunity for you to transfer/use skills and knowledge that could contribute to whole-of-government outcomes by building capability in another organisation.

Decide whether a secondment is the appropriate capability or development opportunity

Your manager may have different views on how best to meet your development need or capability offer. Some points to consider are whether:

  • it may be more effective to consider other development opportunities, such as: on-the-job training; opportunities to act up in current organisation; attendance or presenting at courses; seminars and conferences, etc.;
  • contributing capability may be more effective by participating in inter-departmental project teams, peer reviewing and coaching project teams, etc.; or
  • the timing is right in terms of the home organisation's business needs, staffing levels, etc.

Obtain your manager's approval

Your manager will need to take into account the timing of a secondment and options to back-fill your position. They need to consider their business needs, including:

  • work deadlines or commitments;
  • the current staffing level within the team;
  • how the position could be back-filled.

Offer your manager suggestions if you have some ideas about back-filling.

They may wish to approve the idea in principle and wait for a secondment opportunity to arise before giving full approval. They may also need to seek approval from other areas of the organisation, e.g. their own manager, before a decision is made.

Approval for a secondment should not be withheld but if it is, meet formally with your manager to discuss the reasons.

_ Identify a secondment opportunity

Secondment opportunities can be identified in a number of ways such as:

  • the secondment section on Government Jobs Online (

    http://www.jobs.govt.nz/

    );
  • Public Service networks;
  • personal contacts or through your manager.

Some advertisers of permanent vacancies also accept proposals for a secondment.

Assess the suitability of the particular secondment

The suitability of a secondment will depend on a number of factors. Once you have identified the specific benefits and learning objectives of the proposed secondment, ascertain whether to proceed further. Does the secondment:

  • provide an opportunity for you to contribute capability?
  • meet your development needs? or
  • fit with business needs, e.g. duration, start date, etc.?

Apply' for the secondment

The application process for each secondment may be quite different.

It usually involves your submitting a curriculum vitae and letter of application, just as you would for a vacancy.

The host organisation will have their own means of determining whom they will appoint to the secondment.

The host organisation is responsible for advising you whether or not your application is successful. There is no statutory right of appeal. 2

Negotiate terms and conditions of the secondment

The secondment agreement has three parties - the secondee, their home organisation and the host organisation. The secondment agreement identifies remuneration, allowances, start date, duration, reviews, performance appraisal, etc. Attached to it is a Duties and Development Plan, to identify the work objectives and development initiatives.

The agreement must ensure that expectations, accountabilities and performance objectives are clear to all parties.

The home and host managers agree how the your performance will be assessed, who will conduct the assessment, how often, how the information will be fed back to the you, and how it will be delivered to the home manager

During the secondment

 

Expect induction

The host organisation will induct you, like any new recruit, into the aspects of the organisation you will need to know in order to understand its culture and to fulfil your work objectives successfully. This may involve a full induction programme or the induction may be tailored just to the specific aspects you need to know.

Expect feedback

Throughout the secondment, regular feedback from your host manager will assist you to evaluate your achievement of both the work objectives and your learning objectives, as outlined in your Duties and Development Plan. The plan also sets out the timetable for feedback and review meetings. You are primarily responsible for getting the most out of the secondment opportunity. This may mean requesting additional meetings to seek and receive feedback.

Review performance and term of the secondment, if applicable.

Your secondment agreement will confirm how a formal review of your secondment performance will link into the performance management process at your home organisation.

Some secondment agreements may contain a clause outlining when, how and who will decide if the secondment duration is extended. Once again, this is a three-way negotiation between the secondee, the home manager and host manager.

Maintain contact with the home organisation

Take responsibility for maintaining contact with your home agency in order to:

  • keep abreast of any major organisational changes, development opportunities or current vacancies;
  • maintain social networks;
  • understand the outcomes from business processes (strategic planning, work programmes, etc.); and
  • foster a sense of still being a part of the home organisation.

Some suggestions for how to stay in touch include:

  • regularly catch up with your home manager;
  • get yourself on the mailing lists for key publications and newsletters, and scan the home organisation's website;
  • ensure you are invited to key meetings where any major changes or introductions of new policies are being discussed;
  • remain a member of or keep in contact with the social club or catch up with members of your immediate work unit periodically.

If problems arise

From time to time, a secondment may have problems. In such instances, open communication is important.

If the problem is not resolved after initial discussions, you may have to use a formal process. In this case, you could talk with appropriate parties in the host and/or home organisation e.g. a manager, a member of Human Resources, etc. It is the responsibility of the secondee to ensure the home manager is properly informed, kept abreast of changes, and requested to mediate if necessary.

If the problem cannot be resolved, it may be best to terminate the secondment early, in accordance with the secondment agreement. However, invoking early termination is the last resort.

At conclusion of secondment

 

Prepare for re-entry

Here are some things to think about and bring up with your home manager before re-entering your home organisation:

  • You may see your previous position in a different light or have higher expectations. In some cases, you may even feel uncomfortable about returning to your guaranteed position. You and your home manager will need to discuss this before your return date and jointly identify how you can continue to be challenged and developed.
  • You may find the organisation and people have changed during your secondment, so you may need to re-establish your profile with a new manager and colleagues. You may find it useful to be fully re-inducted onto your home organisation and to outline your key skills, networks, experience and personal style to your new manager and colleagues.

Evaluate the secondment

Evaluation of the secondment is completely separate from the performance appraisal process for the secondee. Complete the evaluation three months after the secondment finishes.

The evaluation should cover what went well, what did not go well, and what should be done differently next time. Were you able to contribute the skills you had been asked to share? Did the secondment further your career aspirations? Are you now using what you learned in your current role, back in your home organisation.

Provide Human Resources with a copy of your evaluation.

1 These reasons must not contravene the requirements of the State Sector Act, and must comply with the Human Rights Act.

2 The State Sector Act s65 applies to appointments under the Act. Secondments are not appointments under the State Sector Act, the people concerned remain employed by their home organisation. If you want to have a review process it would fall outside s65. Under s23 of the Official Information Act a person concerned can request the reasons why they were not successful.

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