My thanks to a loyal reader, who directed me to a recently published blog by Sir Bob Kerslake (Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)) on the subject of Performance Management within the Civil Service.
"We are now starting the End Year Review period for the new Civil Service-wide performance management system. This system has introduced a consistent model across our organisation, which now looks at both “what” civil servants achieve and “how” they achieve it. Feedback on this has been positive, and I’m very proud that we now have a system which reflects our values as well as our achievements.This is the system that I wrote about in February which demands fixed quotas, wherein 10% of staff fall in the bottom rating regardless of their performance.
I am confident that introducing new performance management arrangements, done well, will radically improve the way in which we are all managed, and raise our overall effectiveness – whether that’s identifying and recognising high performers, or supporting those who need to improve."
I noted at the time that:
"This is not a new concept, many "successful" private sector companies have used this technique (or variations thereon) eg Enron and Arthur Andersen (the failed accountancy firm that audited Enron). Seemingly the fear of "failure" is meant to be "motivational"."Anyhoo be that as it may, Sir Bob is confident that the system will work:
"..the intention is that these ratings are guided not forced. There is a key role for managers here to ensure the system is applied fairly and consistently and that is why work is already underway to make sure they have the capability they need to run the process properly."Aside from the nonsense of having fixed quotas for staff performance, its "success" or otherwise rests on the quality of management who make the assessment and then "guide" those who are in the bottom 10%.
Sadly for those in HMRC, based on comments on this site, the management skills of those "in charge" appear to be somewhat lacking; ie Sir Bob's wish that performance management arrangements should be done well is somewhat overoptimistic.
Aside from the comments on this site indicating that the system is not working, there are 300 comments on Kerslake's blog, most of which indicate that the system in the civil service as a whole is not working eg:
"I am sorry to say that I am not convinced. I know of many members of staff who have not had mid year review/talks with their line managers. Some still have not had last year's end of year review/talk. Bottom 10% has led to increased stress and depression. I am still waiting to find somebody who once in the bottom 10% has had guidance to help them improve."
"Sir Bob, this system is wrong. It allows perverse behaviour to reign supreme, it rewards favouritism, challenging performance markings does not result in changes and staff do not have faith in the system. We all know why you ask the poor performance question in staff surveys, and that is to get the result you want in order to say the staff want poor performance tackled – in turn you argue this is why you have this system. How about next time you leave out the loaded performance questions from staff surveys and put in protection to stop favouritism. I will sadly never be a box 1 from my manager's inferences – I'm a great performer, respected in the office, seen as reliable and positive – but unless I am best pals with the bosses it's hard cheese."The key to an efficient organisation that staff are happy to work for is good management, poor management inevitably leads to failure and lousy staff morale.
Comments and views are most welcome, eg how is the "guidance" part of this system actually going?
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