Performance
May 15, 2013

Performance management and poor performers

Quote of the week

“I invite all public servants to take part in this important dialogue about our shared future.”

— Clerk’s 20th Annual Report

Editor’s Corner

This time of year the Clerk of the Privy Council puts out his annual report to the Prime Minister on the state of the public service as he sees it. It always provides a good sense of where the most senior public servant in the land sees the institution going.

The theme of public sector transformation has been a constant in Wayne Wouters’ reports, and we see it repeated here. There’s a reminder that change is constant…though, let’s face it, most federal public servants don’t need to be reminded of that fact.

And there are success stories about how federal government public servants have become more innovative, collaborative, streamlined, adaptable and diverse.

One of his identified priorities for 2013 focuses on an area where there has been considerable buzz and activity. It is performance management, where changes are coming to respond to the government’s view that poor performers are not being dealt with strongly enough.

As Tony Clement told the Globe a week ago: “I think it is perfectly reasonable for management to work with an underperformer, try to get him or her up to performance standards and, if that fails after successive tries, then I think that we have the right to say that perhaps this job isn’t for you…[T]hat goes to the management function that hasn’t been looked at recently, to be honest with you.”

On performance management, the question that everyone is waiting to hear answered is: will the assumption be that all poor performers are malingerers? And will there be a bureaucratic sledgehammer approach to dealing with what might be considered a flea concern?

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