Federal Manager's Daily Report

One main contributor to poor performance in the federal workplace is employees who are in jobs that are wrong for them, the MSPB has said in a new publication analyzing data from its most recent merit principles survey.

“The two factors that supervisors perceived as playing the greatest roles in employee performance deficiencies were the employee’s disinterest in doing the necessary work to succeed and the employee not being suited for that particular job. These issues are often the result of poor selection choices. Therefore, solutions to address these causes of unacceptable performance are related more to improving hiring and selection practices than performance management procedures,” it said.

That also means that instead of firing being the default response, reassignment can be a viable solution, it said, “provided that there is good reason to believe the employee will perform effectively in a different position. Sixty-two percent of supervisors supported reassigning employees if they seem more likely to succeed elsewhere. This may be particularly appropriate for those situations where the unsuccessful performance is caused by poor job fit.”

Other main takeaways, it said, are that:

* “Unacceptable performance does not have a single solution. The MPS provided supervisors a list of 14 common methods for dealing with performance problems and asked supervisors how effective they found each method to be. All of the listed solutions worked for at least some supervisors, but none worked for all. That indicates that the best method to address unacceptable performance will depend on the unique situation.”

* “When unacceptable performance exists, supervisors spend a lot of time trying to address it. Approximately three-quarters of supervisors of unacceptable performers reported attempting at least 10 different approaches for addressing the performance problem of their most recent poor performer. This likely represents a substantial investment of time and resources. Furthermore, no solution was rated by more than 47 percent of supervisors to be effective to at least some extent. Therefore, supervisors are using many methods to address the unacceptable performance, but they do not seem to believe that these solutions are generally effective.”

MSPB added that it is planning to release a more detailed analysis of the issue.