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Director's Response: SPE PAP – Award Task Force
Blog by Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos
My thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments on my recent SPE – PAP/Award Task Force Blog. The responses touched a number of important themes that I would like to address. First, I want to point out that the SPE PAP – Award Task Force is part of a larger, overarching effort to revamp the performance plans of all managers including Technology Center Directors, Deputy Commissioners, and Commissioners. Their performance plans will be revised to reflect a leadership culture of increased employee development responsibility, cooperation, collaboration, transparency and responsiveness that we are working to establish at the USPTO.
I agree with the perspective of a number of posts that training for supervisors – both new managers as well as experienced managers – is a critical investment for the USPTO. It is true that many individuals join the ranks of management with little or no direct management experience and on –the- job training is essential. It is also true that formal management training can provide needed insights and perspectives that would otherwise take years to acquire. This is one reason we are moving ahead with a Leadership Development Program that will strengthen the management skill set we develop in all our managers.
The importance of employee retention was also noted. I couldn’t agree more. Our employees are by far the most important asset of our Agency -- they literally make the USPTO work. We invest a large amount of time and effort in the training of our examiners to provide them the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career. We want our solid performers to stay, contribute, and add value at the USPTO. So it is important to me that all managers work with employees to assist them in developing their careers to the greatest extent possible. We have added the critical element of Coaching/Mentoring to the SPE PAP to reflect the important role supervisors play in our employees' career development. The SPE who is adept at the roles of coach and mentor can make all the difference in an examiner’s choice to make the USPTO a full-career employer.
There were several suggestions that some component of SPE performance include examiners' input. Others mentioned peer input as a useful information source for SPE development. I think both of these suggestions have merit. I will ask the SPE Task Force to explore these concepts and develop assessment tools that offer examiners and peers the opportunity for constructive feedback.
The SPE PAP - Award Task Force is reviewing feedback from external stakeholders, POPA, and my Blog. If you have any other suggestions, please submit them soon; the FY 2010 SPE PAP will be finalized in early February.