FAQ: Working at NIH

  • Q: How can NIH employees use competencies to develop their career?

    A: 

    Employees can review the competency models and use the proficiency maps to determine developmental opportunities. Employees should discuss with their supervisors the plan for increasing their proficiency levels. This plan could include activities such as performing special projects and assignments, training, shadowing, etc. In addition, employees who would like to change careers can review the competency models for other occupations to understand which competencies they need to develop.

  • Q: What is the NIH Proficiency Map?

    A: 

    The NIH Proficiency Map links GS grade levels to target proficiency levels for each competency in the suggested occupational and leadership and management models.  These maps serve as a guide to understanding the expected proficiency level of top performers at each grade level. The NIH Proficiency Map can be found at this location.

  • Q: How were NIH competency models developed?

    A: 

    NIH employees developed the competency models. The Core, Leadership, and Management models were developed by a group of AO and EO leaders, using models of other organizations as a starting point. Focus groups of top performers in each of the occupational areas developed the occupational models. Some ICs also have developed additional core and leadership competencies and even different or additional administrative occupational competencies.

  • Q: What does it mean if I do not meet the target proficiency level?

    A: 

    If you do not meet a specific target proficiency level, it may indicate that you should focus your development efforts on this particular competency.  However, there are also other factors that will affect your development efforts, such as organizational priorities, team needs, etc.  Therefore, you should obtain guidance from your supervisor to discuss the highest priority competencies for development.

  • Q: What competency models has NIH developed?

    A: 

    NIH has developed competency models in some of the most common roles performed across ICs. These roles consist of competencies that fall within the following areas: non-technical, technical, leadership & management, and executive level proficiencies.

    Non-technical competencies represent the sets of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that apply to all NIH employees. Technical competencies are occupation-related competencies that apply to all employees within a specific business area. The leadership & management competencies apply to all employees with supervisory responsibilities in administrative occupations. The executive level proficiencies are based on OPM’S Executive Core Qualifications for the Senior Executive Service (SES).

    The suggested competency models provide guidance on the expected performance needed by NIH employees in different occupational areas.

  • Q: How can employees increase their proficiency levels?

    A: 

    This can be done in many ways.  For example, employees may take formal training to help build their proficiency levels.  Employees may participate in developmental assignments on the job or on a detail to another job, read articles and books, participate in activities of a professional organization, take e-learning courses, be coached, be mentored, etc.

  • Q: What is an Individual Development Plan (IDP) and how does it relate to competencies, performance, and promotions?

    A: 

    An Individual Development Plan (IDP) outlines career goals within the context of organizational objectives. It is a developmental "action" plan to move employees from where they are to where they would like to be or need to be. It provides systematic steps to improve performance and build on strengths related to one’s current job, and to meet one’s career goals. The goals of an IDP are developed by the employee with input from the supervisor. The IDP links the individual's career interests and needs to organizational priorities. IDPs are used to help employees:

    • Learn new skills to improve current job performance;
    • Maximize current performance in support of organizational requirements;
    • Increase interest, challenges, and satisfaction in current position; and
    • Obtain competencies that can help lead to career changes.
  • Q: What is the Competency Training Map?

    A: 

    The NIH Training Center has identified and mapped training courses to competencies at various proficiency levels. The Competency Training Map aids employees in researching training courses that will help them reach their target proficiency level for a given competency. However, taking a class does not guarantee that employees will attain the desired proficiency level. It is the ability to perform tasks/activities related to their job responsibilities that demonstrates the level of proficiency attained. Training can only aid employees in developing competencies. There is not a specified number of classes that an individual needs to take in order to meet a competency proficiency level.

  • Q: What competency based tools has NIH developed?

    A: 

    NIH has developed competency models in some of the most common roles performed across ICs. These roles consist of competencies that fall within the following areas: non-technical, technical, leadership & management, and executive level proficiencies.

    Non-technical competencies represent the sets of knowledge, skills, abilities, and behaviors that apply to all NIH employees. Technical competencies are occupation-related competencies that apply to all employees within a specific business area. The leadership & management competencies apply to all employees with supervisory responsibilities in administrative occupations. The executive level proficiencies are based on OPM’S Executive Core Qualifications for the Senior Executive Service (SES). 

    The suggested competency models provide guidance on the expected performance needed by NIH employees in different occupational areas.

  • Q: How do I use the competency behavioral-based interview guides?

    A: 

    The interview guide serves as a tool that supervisors can use to understand if and how interviewees have demonstrated key behaviors associated with particular competencies. Past performance may be a good predictor of future performance in a similar situation.

    Most interview guides include a number of questions related to each competency. Interviewers may choose questions they think are appropriate for the candidate, job or organization.

  • Q: Can I submit future leave requests on Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes. When putting in future leave requests, you must enter the start and end times for the actual hours you want to take leave.

  • Q: I tried switching an employee to the Maxiflex Work Schedule but received an error message. What happened?

    A: 

    Ensure that there are core hours established for the employee’s SAC. If not, establish core hours and then try again.

    If the employee’s SAC does have core hours established, make sure the hours listed in the Biweekly Distribution of Biweekly Basic Work Requirements at the bottom of the Tour of Duty page have been cleared out prior to going to the employee’s timecard on the “Timecard” tab and clearing it out as well.

  • Q: Can I submit multi-day leave requests if I participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes.  You can submit multi-day leave requests that are within the same work week by entering the start/stop times and the appropriate range of dates.

    Note that multiple weeks of leave should be entered as separate leave requests for each week (e.g. 11/30/2015 - 12/04/2015 and 12/07/2015 - 12/11/2015). A single request for leave from 11/30/2015 through 12/11/2015 would result in leave being requested for the weekend days in addition to the week days.

  • Q: How do core hours impact an employee’s work schedule under Maxiflex?

    A: 

    During core hours, an employee must be working or on leave. They can be working in the office or at an approved telework location, but they cannot be flexing their schedule to be off. This means that if an employee was previously on a Compressed Work Schedule in which they had Tuesdays off but they are now on Maxiflex and the office has core hours on Tuesdays, the employee must work or be on leave during those core hours.

  • Q: Can I submit future ad-hoc telework requests if I participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes.  When putting in future ad-hoc telework requests, you must enter the actual hours you want to telework. To request a full day of ad hoc telework, two requests must be entered in ITAS. The first request is before your meal period, and the second request is after (e.g. 12/03/2020 from 8am to noon and 1pm to 5pm). 

  • Q: How do core hours impact an employee’s leave?

    A: 

    Core hours impact an employees’ leave in several ways. Employees may find that they do not need to take as much leave on Maxiflex because they are able to work additional hours throughout the pay period. Conversely, an employee may not simply record one hour of leave on a day that they have a core hour from 10 am – 11 am. Because an employee must always work or take leave in 2 hour increments, they must take two hours of leave. If an employee will be out of the office for an extended period of time, i.e. a full week, a Leave Approving Official may request that the employee record 8 hours of leave per day.

  • Q: Under Maxiflex, am I entitled to night differential?

    A: 

    An employee is not entitled to night differential for voluntarily working flexible hours between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

  • Q: Are employees on Maxiflex entitled to night differential?

    A: 

    If an employee voluntarily works before 6 a.m. or after 6 p.m. while on a Maxiflex Work Schedule, they are not entitled to night differential.

  • Q: Do I need supervisory approval to participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes.  Maxiflex, like all other work schedules, is subject to supervisory approval based on organizational work requirements such as duties of the position, office coverage, or participation in collaborative projects.

    Employee participation is an employment benefit and not an entitlement. Bargaining unit employees may participate in Alternative Work Schedules only under the terms provided in a negotiated agreement.

  • Q: Am I required to be in a work status during core hours if I participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes. During core hours, employees must be in a working status or on leave. Working status includes time in the office as well as time teleworking for those employees on an approved telework agreement.

  • Q: Maxiflex requires that I work or take leave for at least 2 hours if I am recording any hours on that day. What happens if I get to the end of the pay period and have between 78 and 80 total hours?

    A: 

    You have several options.

    • If there are several days left in the pay period, you can work additional hours. You will need to record any time beyond 80 hours as credit hours, if you are eligible.
    • You can extend your work day if you have not reached your IC/O’s total hours cap and are within flexible hours.
    • You can also take leave to reach 80 hours. If you attempt to record less than 2 hours of leave on a day that doesn’t have additional regular hours, ITAS will present an error message.

    Note: If you have core hours on remaining days in the pay period, you must work or be on leave during that time.

  • Q: What is the best time to submit or update my timecard if I participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Employees are strongly encouraged to enter their projected hours of work on the Certify Timecard page in ITAS at the beginning of the pay period. That information can be updated as often as needed until the timecard is verified at the end of the pay period.

  • Q: Can I certify a timecard prior to the end of the pay period when I participate in Maxiflex?

    A: 

    Yes, a timecard can be certified at any time during the pay period. However, it is strongly recommended that you do not certify your timecard until the end of the pay period. Once a timecard has been certified, you can no longer make changes and must request assistance from your timekeeper.

  • Q: As an employee who works from an alternate time zone, how do I account for my hours of work and ensure I meet core hours?

    A: 

    Employees that work in an alternate time zone and are on a Maxiflex Work Schedule are expected to work (or take leave) during the core hours set by their organization, at the time they are occurring in their organization's time zone. They are expected to record their hours of work/leave using their organization’s time zone.

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