Commentary by Jeff Neal
Founder of ChiefHRO.com
& Senior Vice President, ICF International
This column was originally published on Jeff Neal’s blog, ChiefHRO.com, and was republished here with permission from the author.
I’ve done three posts on problems with performance rating processes.
The first focused on the judgmental aspects of performance ratings and how damaging they are to morale.
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The second focused on neuroscience and what it is telling us about how our brains work, and how performance ratings push all of the wrong buttons in the human brain.
The third focused on the reasons we do performance ratings, their cost and the fact that they are not really effective in doing any of the things they purport to do.
While writing those three posts, I did a lot of reading, thinking about rating processes, and talking to a number of people whose opinions I trust.
I have learned some things that have shaped my views of what we should do to improve how we handle performance in the federal government.
So if ratings are so bad and expensive and useless, how do we do something different? I will not presume to be able to solve a problem that has bedeviled HR professionals for years in one blog post, but I do believe there are some basic changes the federal government can make, within the confines of existing law and regulations, to make the process better, not destructive, and more likely to produce improved performance. Here are five things we can do now to make this wretched process something that may be helpful and, at least, is not destructive.
There is no silver bullet for performance management, but these recommendations can address some of the most troublesome aspects of current processes. Unless we do something to deal with them, we will continue to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on processes that do little good, generate countless grievances, arbitration and EEO complaints, and discourage rather than encourage performance. We can certainly do better than that.
* Cost estimate based upon 2 million employees with an average salary of $77,535 and approximately 260,000 managers and supervisors with an average salary of approximately $107,000. Because supervisors and managers also are employees for purposes of performance ratings, they are included in the count of employees as well. If each employee spends only five hours annually in the process and each supervisor or manager spends 40 hours (very conservative estimates), the annual cost of the current processes is over $900 million. That does not include systems and other non-labor costs, nor does it include the cost of grievances, appeals, arbitration and lawsuits, which could easily push the number over $1 billion.
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Copyright 2014 by Jeff Neal. All rights reserved.
Jeff Neal is founder of the blog, ChiefHRO.com, and a senior vice president for ICF International, where he leads the Organizational Research, Learning and Performance practice. Before coming to ICF, Neal was the chief human capital officer at the Department of Homeland Security and the chief human resources officer at the Defense Logistics Agency.