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Federal managers: Room for improvement?

How good is your manager?

While it may be true that the federal workforce is top-notch, or at least, pretty darn good, it's also true that a bad manager can sink an otherwise good organization.

So how can agencies help managers improve?

In recent articles, one a feature on performance management and one on what agencies need to do to retain employees, readers who responded with comments offered some perspectives.

The answer could start with government leaders choosing good people to put into management positions, one reader wrote. “There are certainly a few good managers/leaders in the federal government that have actually earned the respect of their employees and deserve to be in those positions. Unfortunately, that number is far and few between. The federal government still does not know how to pick the appropriate people for leadership positions. As long as they refuse to address this problem, the government will always be operating at far below acceptable standards and will continue to loose the good employees that they need to retain.”

Training is important for managers, wrote another reader, a General Services Administration employee. “In the '90s, GSA pushed for a trained supervisory force whose sole purpose was to be supervisors. Much training was required and extra training encouraged. However, over the years, the atmosphere regressed to the 'Your supervisory duties are in addition to your normal ones.' attitude. Supervision training on even the basics for procedures, regulations and restriction have decreased, and extra courses on how to be a good supervisor are rarely encouraged. … It is time for a change in the attitude that supervision is not a career but rather an additional duty.”

Managers should be willing to tackle the more unpleasant aspects of the job – including denying step raises to poor performers even though they'll have to spend some time defending the decision, wrote another reader.

“Managers like the sunshiney, easy aspects of their jobs, but not the more unsavory aspects inherent to a managerial position,” that reader wrote. “I've worked in both private and public sector jobs, as a supervisor and employee. It's a fallacy to say that private sector management doesn't also have to do lengthy reviews of below-standard staff ratings and performance evaluations. They must do so due to myriad issues and ramifications that could result from such an unfavorable action.”

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 at 12:18 PM


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