Delivering Excellent Services
and Continuous Improvement -
A Guide to Performance
Management in Merton
This booklet is a brief guide to our performance management
framework. More details are available on our intranet page:
Merton Council’s performance management framework was first published in
2004. Although the principles of performance management remain the same
this framework has been updated to ensure that it remains up to date with
changes such as new business planning arrangements, the community plan
and the introduction of cross-cutting priorities.
Performance management is really just good management. It is about how
we consistently plan and manage improvements to our services. In Merton,
it is about how we organise ourselves to deliver our ambition for continuous
improvement and excellence in everything we do.
Improving public services and providing value for money is a high priority for
the Government. In local government top performing councils have shown that
managing performance is key to achieving high quality services for their citizens.
Although better performance management does not guarantee better
performance, sustainable improvements in services are unlikely to happen
Everyone in the organisation has a part to play in improving our services and
achieving our ambitions. All of us need to understand the principles of
performance management and how they are being applied in Merton.
Our performance management framework has been developed and reviewed
to ensure that it is:
• Simple and clear
• Built on progress made and lessons learnt so far
• Owned, used and communicated
• Consistent yet flexible
• Practical and easy to navigate
• Part of the day job
Our framework will help all of us to:
• Be clear about what we are trying to achieve as an organisation
• Understand exactly how we are going to achieve it collectively
• Understand how we will monitor and report progress through regular
evaluation and review
• Understand how the contribution of individual members of staff, managers,
teams and departments relate to each other and help to deliver the targets
set for the whole organisation
The guide provides an overview of the arrangements in place to manage
performance. It will act as a reference point for all of us, using the tools that
will drive up performance across the board.
The different elements of the framework are also represented diagramatically
as a wall poster which can be downloaded from the intranet.
The performance management framework has three parts:
1. The planning framework - how the plans fit together - the ‘golden thread’.
2. The planning, monitoring and review cycle - what happens, when and how.
3. Taking responsibility for results - how we go about doing it.
Part One -
The planning framework - how the plans fit
together - the Golden Thread
The performance management framework links plans and targets together through
the ‘Golden Thread’. The performance triangle shows how our plans fit together and
how this thread runs through them, connecting the broad strategic objectives of the
council and its partners with the actions of managers and staff at service, team and
Merton Performance Management Framework Triangle - the Golden Thread
Medium Term Council Business
Financial Strategy Plan (3 year rolling) Annual Report
Workforce Development Plan Performance Plan
Statutory Plans Departmental Plans
Divisional Plans *
Team Plans *
Individual work programmes / appraisal objectives
* Departments must complete either Divisonal or Teams Plans
The Community Plan sets out the priorities for the council and its partners over
the next ten years and provides the foundation for the three-year Local Area
Agreement which will run from 2007-2010.
The Business Plan sets out the council’s priorities for improvement over the next
three years. The plan is reviewed every year to ensure that it always reflects the
most important improvement priorities.
Departmental Service Plans are produced every year and outline the key issues
and priorities for the department. Departmental plans are monitored on a regular
basis by DMTs.
Divisional and Team Plans outline how each work area is going to contribute
to corporate and departmental targets and priorities.
Appraisals take place twice a year and are used to agree individual
work programmes and targets.
Statutory and other plans are produced for central government. A full list of
plans and policies is available on the council’s website.
The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) outlines how much money we
expect to receive over the next three years and in broad terms what we expect
to be spending this on.
The Workforce Development Plan is focused on making the best use
of the skills of staff to deliver the services residents demand and deserve.
The Best Value Performance Plan (BVPP) is published in June each year and
summarises our achievements in the previous year, outlines our ambitions for
the next year and reports on our progress against statutory BVPIs.
The Annual Report is published in October each year and provides details
of our financial performance over the previous year and reports on our
performance against our business plan targets.
Part Two -
The planning, monitoring and review cycle -
what happens when and how
The planning, monitoring and review cycle shows how we continuously review
our performance in order to improve our services.
There are four stages to the process:
Planning - Where are we now and where do we want to be?
Where we are now is reflected in performance against our PIs, the results of
satisfaction surveys, our CPA scores and other inspection results. Our corporate
ambitions and objectives that describe where we want to be are laid out in the
community plan and the business plan.
Doing - How do we get to where we want to be?
To get where we want to be we need to maximise our capacity to deliver the
actions laid out in the various plans, and use our performance management
and appraisal systems to ensure that we remain on course.
Reviewing - How are we doing and are we there yet?
By monitoring and managing performance, consulting with our partners and
service users, and benchmarking against other providers, we can assess our
progress towards achieving our ambitions and learn from the good practice
Revising - What do we do next?
It is important that our services evolve to meet the needs of our residents.
Having reviewed our performance we may need to change what we are doing
or revise our ambitions and objectives so that we can continuously improve as
To maximise the cycle’s effectiveness we have an agreed timetable for
the process which takes into account both performance and financial
considerations. This timetable enables councillors to agree priorities
and allocate resources based on community views and needs, and accurate
performance information. These priorities are translated into planned
outcomes and performance targets to make sure that the right things
Part three -
How we go about doing it - taking responsibility
A performance culture
Everyone contributes to improving Merton by working within and using the
performance management framework. This ensures that measurable activities
at individual, team and service level translate into outcomes and effects on
Individuals: Services units Departments: The council: Meeting our Achieving our
and teams: corporate priority to: strategic objective
(objectives, set during (targets from Divisional/ (targets from Departmental (Business plan of :
annual appraisals Team plans) service plans) outcome)
Empty litterbins in our Monitor a sample of Increase the Creates a better local Improve the quality of Sustainable
parks at least once parks to check that percentage of sites environment, working the public realm for Communities
a day (Monday-Friday) we are keeping surveyed with little with local communities residents of and
them clean or no litter visitors to Merton
Introduce a enchanced Engage all schools Increase the percentage Reduces childhood Promote healthy Healthier
assessment criteria in the Healthy of schools achieving obesity and increases life styles and choices Communities
to move schools Schools programme Healthy schools award levels of physical
forward in their fitness in Merton
of the Healthy
Deciding what to measure and setting targets
Performance measures and indicators describe how well a service is performing
against its objectives. Targets are defined levels of performance for a particular
performance measure or indicator. Setting targets is an important discipline and
should involve all the appropriate stakeholders, including members, partners
and staff. More information and guidance on measuring performance and
setting targets is available on the intranet.
Having set targets it is important that we report progress against these in a timely
and accurate way. The key to accurate reporting is good data quality. The council
adopted a data quality strategy in 2006 which outlines the principles
and standards of data quality expected by the council.
Roles and responsibilities - Who does what
All staff have a responsibility to deliver the tasks that have been agreed in their
appraisal and understand how their work contributes to team, departmental
and council goals.
All service units should meet regularly to share information, review progress of
their divisional and team plans, develop ideas, identify areas for the next plan
and agree the way forward on a variety of team and work issues. Service unit
managers attend quarterly performance boards for their division.
Heads of service
Heads of service are responsible for overseeing the performance of service
units within their remit.
Departmental Management Teams (DMTs)
DMTs develop and deliver their departmental plan, incorporating targets from
other plans and strategies as appropriate. They monitor their departments’
performance information and are responsible for taking action to deal
with under performance.
Each director is responsible for the performance of a department.
They make sure that departmental plans are monitored at least every three
months and regularly provide progress reports to the appropriate cabinet
Corporate Management Team (CMT)
CMT reviews performance monthly and it can ask DMTs to review areas of
concern and agree management action to address under performance.
Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny
Ultimately, councillors are responsible for setting the direction of the council. All
councillors can review monthly performance information via the dashboard, and
cabinet members have challenge sessions every two months with the cabinet
member for performance. Overview and scrutiny panels have regular performance
monitoring task groups to examine performance data, detect trends and identify
key areas of concern.
The diagram below shows how the data we collect feeds though the system to
ensure continous improvement.
meetings with Cabinet Reports
Scrutiny task groups Scrutiny panel discussions
Directors bi-monthly meetings with Chief Executive
Data Dashboard CMT
Supporting managers and staff
The Policy, Partnerships and Performance Division in the Chief
Executive’s Department co-ordinates the performance management
framework and provides guidance on how to use the framework.
Other sections can advise on individual aspects of the framework.
The main contacts are:
Performance management, data quality Suzanne Barrows (x3662)
the BVPP and the Annual Report
Community Plan Monica Wambu (x3864)
Business Plan Joanna Richards (x4161)
Service Planning Penny Collins (x3706)
Effective Merton Programme James Scott (x3983)
Appraisal policy & the workforce Steve Key (x3088)
Medium Term Financial Strategy Andy Wood (x3492)
For more information on how the performance management framework
works in departments, contact:
Chief Executive’s Suzanne Barrows (x3662)
Children, Schools and Families Michael Sutherland (x4090)
Community and Housing Hilary Di Salvo (x3676)
Corporate Services Karin Lane (x4081)
Environment and Regeneration John Stutchbury (x3151)