“Eliminating unnecessary functions and positions and effectively addressing poor performing employees are particularly vital for agencies if they are going to show Congress, the President, and the American people, that they have done as much as possible with as few resources as possible.” --Source: Merit Systems Protection Board survey, as reported in GovExec
According to this research:
Given all the emphasis on innovation and good government these days, why do federal agencies still find it tough to optimize work functions and retain top talent?
@Mark, what is the gist of Mitchell and Lee's findings?
As far as the "30-year mistake" this is really core to the way government hiring works vs. private sector. We invest in people for the long term rather than in their productivity over the short term ("churn and burn").
The problem is that we don't maximize productivity as well as we could for a few reasons.
#1 the bureaucracy is slow to adapt.
#2 it's only human for people to compete against one another rather than collaborate
#3 while the mission is clear the goals often are not, and when the goals are articulated clearly they inevitably cause controversy, leading some organizations to adopt a default model of silence
#4 there is a tendency to adopt technology first and training/customer service is an afterthought
#5 when difficult decisions need to be made the resistance is so strong that it can eat people alive.
The scope of Terry and Tom's work is evident in the publication titles one can see listed here: http://www.foster.washington.edu/centers/facultyresearch/facultypro...
One of the ideas the two, and their colleagues, have put to the challenge is that turnover occurs principally because of lousy bosses or working conditions. In actuality, a lot of people, competent and not, leave jobs they love, and stay in jobs they hate. In some instances, bad management/supervision plays a role, but in many it doesn't. Departures can occur because of what they refer to as "shocks". Those shocks could be an intolerable standoff with a co-worker or supervisor, but could also be a required change in the commuting arrangements dictated by child-care or other caregiver needs (e.g., frail parents), or an informal offer of position from someone you struck up a conversation with at a little league game. Shocks can be positive or negative. The extent to which such shocks precipitate departure will depend on the "embeddedness" of the employee. People can be committed to "the mission", the compensation or needed benefits, their co-workers, the ease of commute, the familiar routine, or any of a host of things. And as Mitchell and Lee have also argued, departure intentions can be "contagious". (Indeed, I asked the question, last year or the year before, whether retirement was "contagious", and as a kind of departure, the answer may well be 'Yes".)
If I could summarize their stance, there are "pull" factors (a great offer, a shorter commute, better use of skills/training), "push" factors (a lousy boss, boring work, an increased workload due to under-resourcing), and "sticky" factors (great co-workers, meaningful work, good compensation, few alternate opportunities). If the push and pull are stronger than the sticky, people leave. If the sticky are robust, people stay. Being competent, liking their management/supervision, or liking the work itself, may have very little to do with it.