Federal Manager's Daily Report

Federal employees at different levels view their unit’s work differently and have different priorities which can lead to disagreements in the workplace, the MSPB has said in analyzing results of a survey showing differing views of the most important outcomes of a work task by level of employment.

While nonsupervisors, supervisors and SES members all valued producing a high-quality result the most:


* those in the first group “were then mainly focused on were meeting a specification or standard and using the correct procedures. It makes sense that someone in a line position is most concerned with output-related goals because their job is directly related to the production of the work product.

* senior executives “were most concerned with meeting organizational expectations and dealing with the workforce fairly. It is not surprising that executives value outcomes that are more closely related to broader organizational goals.

* supervisor responses “fell directly between those of nonsupervisors and executives on almost every outcome. This demonstrates that as employees progress up the chain of command, they start to think about work differently and start prioritizing different outcomes.”

Said MSPB, “Management sometimes has goals that cannot be achieved by following standard procedures—and in turn, they may be slower to recognize when these procedures are crucial for safety or compliance reasons. There is also a direct tradeoff in many tasks between finishing quickly and working in a more reflective manner that explores alternatives. Finally, concerns about fairness in distribution of work and opportunities may lead supervisors and other leaders to make staffing decisions that can seem at odds with other outcomes.

“Such differences in perspective among executives, supervisors, and nonsupervisors may lead to incompatible expectations and potential disagreements about how work tasks are to be performed, which could in turn result in disagreements over the quality of the work product. Recognizing and resolving such differences in expectations should be a skill employees in every role strive to develop,” it said.