Federal agencies “may need to reconsider both the purpose(s) of performance evaluation, and how they are conducting performance evaluation,” the MSPB has said, citing lack of confidence by both employees and management.
“Too often, the annual performance management process boils down to short exchanges to inform employees of their rating and obtain a signature,” its new annual report says.
“Does the process help improve performance, identify poor performers, motivate employees to do a better job, or recognize top performers?” Responses to MSPB’s 2016 merit principles survey (MPS) suggest the answer is a flat “no.”
In that survey, the MSPB said only 63 percent of respondents felt that their appraisal was an accurate reflection of their performance and only 55 percent agreed that the standards used to appraise their performance are appropriate.
“That is not an overwhelming endorsement of the exercise,” the MSPB said, somewhat drily.
It said that government-wide data “suggests that the annual performance rating does not do a good job of making distinctions in employee performance,” noting that more than 99 percent of employees are rated as at least fully successful.
In five-level rating systems more than 75 percent are rated in the top two levels, and “even in systems with only three levels, where the top rating should be reserved for the top performers, almost half were rated at the top level.”
“Also, MPS results show that supervisors do not find the appraisal to be particularly helpful in managing development, promotions, retention, or dealing with poor performers,” it said.
MSPB made those observations in a section reviewing the major actions of OPM in the last year, including its guidance to agencies on standards for evaluating employees and on using performance awards.
However, the MSPB said there are broader issues, including whether performance appraisals: are effective in accomplishing goals or changing behavior; provide valuable feedback to employees on their performance; and result in pay raises or performance awards to recognize and motivate excellence.