Government execs in U.S., Canada take similar positions on performance pay

Government executives in the United States and Canada have remarkably similar attitudes about performance-based pay systems, recent surveys have found.

The latest survey, conducted by the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX), shows that although most Canadian managers support the concept of performance-based pay, fewer than half believe that methods of assessing performance are fair and accurate.

In addition, slightly more than half of the executives surveyed believe that the benefits of Canada’s Performance Management Program, which was implemented four years ago, outweigh the costs.

“That’s not a ringing endorsement,” said Dal Hines, a visiting executive at APEX, speaking Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C., at a luncheon sponsored by the Senior Executives Association. The results of the Canadian survey were released at the luncheon.

SEA’s own survey last September revealed that U.S. government executives have similar takes on performance-management systems.

Common themes that emerged in both surveys are:

  • Executives support performance management principles, but they perceive ratings distributions to be the result of forced quotas rather than merit and feel they were predetermined by senior managers.
  • Executives are concerned about a lack of transparency and communication in performance-based systems.
  • There is a general failure to create meaningful distinctions and standards to measure performance.
  • Executives are dissatisfied with the ways pay is linked to performance.
  • Performance pay has little effect on motivation, quality of work or innovation in the workplace.

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