If a focus group of the well-intended, including a few officials, were to be convened to identify the most urgent problems in the Australian Public Service, you could bet your socks that so-called “staff under-performance” would be prominent on its list.
It may well be a problem, but it’s of the third or fourth order and usually accompanied by whingeing inversely proportional to its seriousness. So it is unsurprising that a recent audit of eight agencies by the Australian National Audit Office found that between 0.1 and 3.1 per cent of staff were rated as “less than effective”. That may understate matters but it’s good enough to give the matter a rough dimension. Add to it the ANAO’s finding that a high proportion of those going through “structured performance assessment” have lifted their games and you’re left with a mouse that’s roared.
The ANAO report titled Managing Underperformance in the Australian Public Service was released in May this year. It’s anyone’s guess as to how this got onto the priority audit list when there are much more pressing personnel management problems.
The report is conscientious and is worth a pass grade. There are, however, shortcomings.
ONE: Critical terms are not properly explained. While the auditors say that “the key purpose of managing underperformance is to assist the employee to consistently meet the performance expectations of their job”, “underperformance” is not defined. Does it mean staff who are unsatisfactory or…
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