(From FedSmith) -- In his FedSmith article Performance Management and Angry, Frustrated and Dissatisfied Employees, Dr. Howard Risher reinforced that “performance management is a serious problem in government.” In reporting the results of a survey on Pay for Performance, he reported that close to 90% of the respondents viewed their experience with pay for performance negatively, with the overwhelming complaint being bias and favoritism. The complaints also indicate waste, abuse and corruption. He attributes the problems to “institutionalized management practices,” which is another term that describes the performance management “system.”
The design of a system is the responsibility of the system owners. The system determines the majority, if not all in some cases, of the results. Assessing individual performance and then attempting to associate pay with performance independent of all the system variables that impact performance is a root cause that contributes to “angry, dissatisfied and frustrated” employees. This outcome is why Dr. W. Edwards Deming considered individual rankings as a deadly disease that infects an organization and negatively impacts quality, productivity and an individual’s right to experience joy in their work.
The quality of line and operations managers who are responsible for administering a performance management system was the topic of a survey discussed in the Government Executive magazine article HR pros offer bleak assessment of federal managers. The survey, conducted by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service reported that “one-third of federal human resource professionals don’t think agency managers have the skills to succeed.” The “skills to succeed” include managing their performance and the performance of the employees they manage.
Unless agency managers have a basic knowledge and understanding of variability, the more accurate assessment may be that 99.5% of agency managers (and non-management personnel) lack the skills and knowledge needed to accurately assess and recognize performance.