9:33 pm, April 20, 2014

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  • where to begin?
    Just me
    *sigh* Mike, as with many things in life the answer is neither all one thing nor all another. It's easy to bash federal managers, in this matter, but let's look at what's really going on. First, the process is cumbersome, adversarial, and frustrates us at every turn. Second, the results are problematic, and difficult to measure. Third, the system is set up to discourage firings because hiring replacement employees is so difficult. Fix these problems and you're about 1/2 way there. In addition, most managers are not just managers, we are often expected to act as lead subject matter experts. We have our own share of "projects" and "workload" that we are expected to complete. We often don't get to spend 100% of our time managing workforce performance as a result of this demand. Second, many managers also find ourselves in the position of being the "head cook and bottle washer"...we manage budgets, logistics, and human resources. By this I mean that, on any given day, 60-70% of our work day is eaten up by things that are pushed down from above and pushed up from below. This leaves us with only 30% of our time to actually manage the performance of our subordinates. Now let's consider the nature of the federal service. Probation weeds out the most egregious of the non-performers, but it does not eliminate them all. Remember, slackers are not, by definition, stupid. Once they are past the probationary period these employees are quick to take advantage of a system that is adversarial to management. They learn all the rules, and the tricks, that effectively stymie attempts at discipline and removal. The basic problem, here is that federal HR is risk averse. Their goal is to avoid going to court. Employees quickly learn this fact and use it to their advantage. Managers often end up feeling like Sisyphus when trying to remove all but the most egregious of bad employees. Finally, let's look at the numbers. When we talk about "firings" we don't typically include voluntary separations in lieu of firing. It has been my experience, in my 25 or so years as a manager, that federal HR will JUMP at the chance to allow an employee to voluntarily separate rather than go through the hassle of firing them. It's little wonder, to me, why we managers are reluctant to spend the time and effort to try to remove the bad 20% rather than managing the remaining 80%.
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  • TREPIDATION
    BeanerECMO
    There is no doubt that trepitation of the effort and/or possible fall-out occupies the mind of the middle managers on up. Trepidation is mainly caused by the first line managers not being strong enough or guided to properly document and counsel an employee's shortcomings. It's no doubt true that 10% of the employees receive 90% of the attention; and, unfortunately, the vast majority of the 10 percenters are the borderline to poor performers. However, the attention is not properly documented and that leads middle to higher management to unsupportable leadership decisions. A lot of the counseling done by muiddle to upper management has to be done on the first line managers. It's the most difficult part of being a manager; i.e., addressing the negative aspects of employees' performance. I've seen it from GS-13 to SES-6 and from O3 to O8. And, it is especially vexing when there is gender or ethnic background in the mix. The middle to upper managers (supposed leaders) run for the hills even if extensive documentation support the remedial action.
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  • To Beaner
    Moderate
    I have no idea what ECMO stands for. Do you or did you work for the feds? How do you know all of the stats you are providing? How do you know what is documented or not documented? And how do you know what middle and upper level management does as far as counseling. You said you've seen...That must mean you were or are a federal worker. Please tell us where and when are what you did.----------To be fair, I am a technician, never in management and never will be in management. I do not have the temperment nor desire to do that kind of work. I would be drummed out of management if I tried it.----------I will say that you could not be a good manager because you have no clue how to deal with unions among other things.---------You were never a liberal or progressive. You learned to read and write from sweatshop operaters who gave you a job. You mugged workers when they tried to assert their legal rights.
    worker
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  • I asked for the facts
    Moderate
    You spewed many stats and other "facts" out including 10%, 90%, 10% are borderline and poor performers, lack of documentation, who does the counsellingrunning for the hills etc. I asked for your personal experience in the federal government because you make yourself sound like you know what you are writing about. I even asked what ECMO stands for as this might be relevant. I saw no answers to these questions. I even disclosed my experiences to show that I may have some knowledge.-------------You failed to respond. That makes it appear that you have no clue as to what you writing about. It appears you spout out lots of sticky stuff with the hope that some of it will stick to the wall. Well, nothing has stuck.--------------Hopefully, you will disclose your experience in the federal government that will show your actual knowledge in the area you wrote about.
    worker
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  • Numbers lie
    contrarian
    Not all terminations are by firing. Many people get pushed into: resigning, retiring or disability. Remember, management's goal is to simply get the person out of the work group, and not necessarily by the cheapest route. What many people never hear is that those put out on disability often get pushed off disability by another group of HR people with that specialty. But, shhh. It's a secret.
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  • Today's Government
    Just My Opinion
    It's always interesting to read these posts because many have seemed to have been around for awhile, and each agency seems to operate differently. From what I have seen, however, the government workforce has greatly changed. You could get a job where I work right out of high school. Today, however, you aren't likely to be hired unless you have a Master's Degree and you graduated at the top of your class. The workforce is a lost more competitive and political. I guess you can be naturally smart and still be lazy, but it's not as likely that you are lazy if you are also an overachiever. My point is--under the new workforce conditions there should be less reasons to fire someone so if the numbers seem low, maybe it's not a mistake, but for good reason.
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