Majorities of federal supervisors said they are not confident that they could remove an employee for performance or misconduct reasons, MSPB said in a white paper based on its most recent government-wide survey.
Only 41 percent of supervisors reported they were confident they could remove an employee for serious misconduct, slightly below the 42 percent who said they were not confident—the rest were not sure. To separate question asking whether they are confident they could remove an employee who was deficient in a critical performance element after going through a performance improvement period; only 26 percent said yes, while 51 percent said no and the rest were not sure.
In both cases, agency culture and support from top management were named as the main hindrances. They were cited as problems to some or a great extent by 81 and 79 percent, respectively, regarding removing employees for serious misconduct and by 83 and 78, percent, respectively, regarding removing poor performers.
Almost as high a concern was the quality of support from HR, named as a problem to some or a great extent by 75 percent regarding poor performance and by 77 percent regarding misconduct. The supervisor’s understanding of the process and their own comfort level in taking action were cited by 51 and 43 percent regarding poor performance and by 53 and 43 percent regarding misconduct.
The report noted that even though what it termed “discomfort with taking away a person’s job” was cited by the fewest, an additional 28 percent in both cases said it was a consideration to a little extent, leaving only just above a quarter saying it would have no impact.
As it had in a recent newsletter article based on the survey that did not go into as much depth as the white paper, the MSPB said that firing is not always the best option for dealing with poor performance or misconduct, saying that reassignments can be effective if there is another available position that would be a better match for the employee. However, it added that the goal of a reassignment should “not be to make one supervisor’s problem into a different supervisor’s problem, but rather to maximize the value of an employee who has strong potential to be a valuable asset.”