Negative employee feedback has prompted a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to seek development of a training program for supervisors on having "difficult conversations." In response to focus groups, the National Ocean Service's (NOS) 200 supervisors will be required take an eight hour course entitled "Delivering Effective Feedback and Having Difficult Conversations."

After the 2013 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, the focus groups conducted by NOS with employees found a "general lack of feedback from supervisors," particularly after employees received unfavorable performance reviews. Employees felt they were not given adequate responses on "ways to improve or what marks they fell short on." NOS concluded that "[t]his general inability to have a 'difficult conversation' seems to be at the heart of the problem."

NOAA is seeking a contractor to develop the class. Among the objectives of the course:

  • Help supervisors understand the different types of feedback and how and when to effectively use them.
  • Help supervisors better understand the importance of and when to have, difficult conversations. This should include understanding the effects of failing to have difficult conversations to correct poor performance or behavior.
  • Breaking the class into small groups, use role playing and exercises to give supervisors experience and opportunity to practice taught curriculum. All individuals should have an opportunity engage in the role playing as well as observe others in the group and offer feedback.
  • Conduct a second round of role playing and exercises focusing on making adjustments based on received feedback.
NOAA is looking for responses by August 29 from small businesses interested in developing and delivering the Difficult Conversations course in NOS offices in Maryland, South Carolina, and Washington State.
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