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Performance mismanagement?

Do public sector workers get sacked?  Many think not...

There are many myths and anecdotes about performance management in the public sector.  One thing is certain, that organisations with large numbers of employees have to have a myriad of employment policies and procedures in place.  Aimed at abiding by the law and providing a framework to deal with all sorts of situations, these safeguard both employer and employee. 

Having worked in the public and the private sector and seen the practices adopted by both, in my view best practice lies somewhere in between. 

In the private sector I felt frustrated because we had perfectly good procedures for dealing with discipline and poor performance, but there was a reluctance to use them. A quick and painless process (for whom?) was used, such as taking the offending employee offsite to say goodbye and stuff their sticky mitt full of ££ notes to ease the path to the next job - and the guilt of the manager.   A reward for non-performance?

In the public sector, on the other hand, the process seemed long and laborious with employees using every trick in the book and often race, gender or some other discriminatory excuse (sorry, reason!) to avoid the chop.  And it works!  Public sector organisations provide a haven for serial complainants, who tie up weeks and months of management time. 

More employment tribunal cases are apparently brought against public sector employers (I couldn't find any data to substantiate this) - an interesting fact considering the effort put in to avoid them.  Transparency and the public purse provide further reasons for dealing with transgressions 'fairly' in the public sector.  But when you look at the awards in 2008/9, including discrimination cases where there is no ceiling, they average £19,500 across all jurisdictions.  Of course the cost is much greater than this, with management time and the cost of barristers et al.

So the contents of this article rings lots of bells for me.  The point I disagree with though is the one about trade unions.  A good trade union official knows the procedures and can help to resolve issues effectively.  HR practitioners have an important role in helping to resolve such issues, and where there is a collaborative working relationship with the trade union representatives, resolution can be reached in many cases.

I think one way to move forward is through considering the risks involved.  Perhaps a way forward is for HR to take more risks with the advice offered.  What do you think?



#1 Guest 2011-05-18 13:39
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