3 Common Obstacles to Performance Management in Government (and Ways to Overcome Them)

Hi All,

Halelly Azulay, President of TalentGrow and the DC chapter of the American Society for Training and Development, has just contributed an original perspective on this topic at Senior Fellows and Friends. She would love to have some conversation with you about it.

Kitty Wooley

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Gerry La Londe-Berg

I have a bit of an adverse view of the comments. I think those in the organization lead from below as well as follow from above. I think good leaders listen more than they espouse. I think skill at accountability is a key skill of successful leaders. Based on the article quotes, here’s my thought. I hope they are useful.

“the vision for the agency and any department can change frequently as well.”

Just because there are new people higher up doesn’t change the organization at its core. There is such a thing as inertia in organizations that tries to return to the status quo (good or bad). The pendulum may swing but the forces are toward the middle. The collective force and vision of the people in the organization is probably the stronger force than the current alleged vision. In fact, I would posit that the vision is that which has evolved over time and the top down idea of vision is severely limited unless the “new” leaders take the existing corporate culture into account. Change in bureaucracy happens SLOWLY no matter how it feels. The wise leader takes account of the accumulated knowledge.

“Leaders must err on the side of over-communicating a sense of vision…”

The leader has to start by listening then developing a clear idea of the vision that the followers will accept and embrace. It is definitely not a straightforward process. Listening with sensitivity and strategic vision is the real key to change.

“don’t skip performance feedback that is linked to reality and results.”

The alternative is, in fact, just Bad Leadership. If you accept that someone else actually leads the organization, then you are just taking the higher pay to maintain the status quo. I have my doubts about such an approach.

“Accountability to results as private sector organizations do.”

I have this nagging feeling that the “private sector”, especially at the upper middle and upper levels is not altogether that much different than the public bureaucracy. I think we don’t hear about the mediocrity, but I suspect it is there.

Performance management evolves in the day-to-day interactions of the supervisors, managers, and leaders with the staff. It is as much a social and interactive process as it is a legislated process. Within any “box” defined by laws, policies and procedures there is discretion. It is the guidance of others, in their use of discretion (their inherent discretion), that leadership comes to fruition.

Kitty Wooley

Gerry, thanks for your thoughtful reply. You might want to check back on that blog once in a while, just to see whether anyone has commented on your comment.