In March 2014 I wrote about HMRC's performance evaluation system, which insists on fixed quotas wherein 10% of staff fall in the bottom rating regardless of their performance.
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"."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%.
My thanks to a loyal reader, who recently dropped me a note outlining the reality of what goes on behind the scenes when HMRC management decide who has to be placed in the bottom 10%.
"Morale has eroded at an alarming rate.
The competency based promotion system is flawed beyond belief and as for the Performance Management Review process we have to endure, well it is the most unfair ridiculous annual assessment of staff I have ever known, and I've been around a while.
If the taxpayer was aware of how many man/woman hours is wasted on this process there'd be a public inquiry.
I kid you not.
Let me give you an example of how it works. I meet with each member of staff under my management, once at the mid year and once at year end. We will discuss performance and we will agree (or not!) where that person sits within one of the three areas;
- Exceeded Performance,
- Achieved Performance or
- Less Effective Performance.
As managers we have been told that as an office we MUST have 10% of staff in the Less Effective box. This is non negotiable.
However once I've completed my staff reviews and given each one an indicative mark I must now attend a Validation Group where all managers meet under the leadership of a chairperson. This is where my staff will be compared against the staff of other managers. Each manager goes in determined that none of their staff are going to end up in the 10% bracket. Added in to the mix is the fact that a lot of the staff being "Validated" don't even do the same type of work!!
In effect if your manager is going in to these validation meetings you had better hope and pray that they are exceptional at standing their ground. A further twist here is that the validation group chair in at least one example that I know of started the session by saying that his PMR depended on making sure that the validation group reached the target of at least 10% of the staff being discussed ending up in the Less Effective Performance band.
The result of all this is that decisions about individuals' performance is being assessed by a group of managers most of whom have never seen the work of that individual, in a lot of cases don't know them at all. What normally happens it that no one enters the room with anyone in the 10% box. Then the fun and games start as each manager listens intently for any sign of weakness in other managers arguments or in the evidence put before them regarding each individual being discussed.
Once a weak manager or weak evidence is identified, everyone else turns on that individual or their manager. After all, a group attack is the best form of defence. Weak managers are consumed by the rest and their staff suffer as a consequence.
Oh by way, there is supposed to be an independent note taker at each validation meeting. I know of one independent person who was so upset at what she was exposed to she refused to do it again.
The PMR process means that in October and April staff are more concerned with their PMRs than about the job they are paid to do. Perhaps someone should do a survey of HMRC call centres at PMR time. I would guess the waiting time for customers is a lot longer than normal. I would estimate that all staff spend a minimum of one whole day preparing for their mid year and end of year PMR (that's a conservative estimate).
Then you've got the reviews themselves, then you've got the validation groups, then you've got the inevitable appeal processes.
The managers hate it, but Excom ram it down our throats; grumble about it and you could find yourself on the naughty step i.e. the Less Effective Box."
HMRC's performance appraisal system is clearly not fit for purpose!
Tax does have to be taxing.
Professional Cover Against the Threat of Costly TAX and VAT Investigations
Insurance to protect you against the cost of enquiry or dispute with HMRC is available from several sources including Solar Tax Investigation Insurance.
Ken Frost has negotiated a 10% discount on any polices that may suit your needs.
However, neither Ken Frost nor HMRCISSHITE either endorses or recommends their services.
What is Solar Tax Investigation Insurance?
Solar Tax Investigation Insurance is a tax-fee protection service that will pay up to £75,000 towards your accountant's fees in the event of an HM Revenue & Customs full enquiry or dispute.
To find out more, please use this link Solar Tax Investigation Insurance
HMRC Is Shite (www.hmrcisshite.com), also available via the domain www.hmrconline.com, is brought to you by www.kenfrost.com "The Living Brand"