The issue of poor performers is a perennial topic. This topic seems to continually top the list of issues the President’s Management Council – comprised of deputy secretaries – wants to address by streamlining the rules. But a new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board concludes that it is not the rules, but the managers, who are the problem.
In a story by Federal Times’ Steve Losey, “MSPB: Managers Lack Skills to Deal with Poor Performers,” MSPB notes “many supervisors have a hard time with performance management – setting standards for how well their employees must do their jobs and then track their performance.”
MSPB Chairman Neil McPhie wrote in the report’s introduction: “Ultimately, at least part of the solution to the issues of dealing with poor performers may be in educating and encouraging supervisors in the use of better performance management practices.”
MSPB notes that government often promotes people who have strong technical skills, but lack management skills. Government also tends to not invest in managerial training, either.
Interestingly, the report said that the necessary laws are in place. The Office of Personnel Management, according to Losey, has promised to create a new performance appraisal system ”that will make it easier for manager to track how well employees do their jobs.” But the real issue is recruiting and training competent managers, not better software. What is needed is a leadership commitment from the top to make this a priority, much like the military does. Some civilian agencies are better than others. Social Security and the IRS tend to be better than most.
Investing in better management training, according to the Government Accountability Office, is also a prerequisite to being able to move to a performance-based pay system as well.