Who’s responsible for the day-to-day employment decisions in your agency? Is it an appointed or elected official or a career employee? Does the position make a difference?
Everyday, organizations make decisions that directly affect the terms and conditions of our employment. Who to select for promotion, who will be reassigned or detailed, to whom recognition awards are deserving, what to do when an employee’s behavior affects the rest of the workplace, and whether disciplinary action or employment termination is appropriate are examples of such decisions.
For these and similar decisions, someone in the organization serves as the final, responsible decision-maker. In the private sector, that person is typically the company president or the site manager. For the federal government, employment decisions are shouldered by either an elected or appointed official or a career civil service or SES employee … and it makes a difference to the taxpayer, to whom this responsibility falls.
Elected and appointed officials serve different masters than career federal employees. Today”s GenY, SES and career civil service employees want their work to make a difference; they are motivated to serve their country in the best way possible. These decision-makers tend to base their decisions on accepted management practices and fact-based reasoning.
Elected officials are ever cognizant of “the people who brung them to the dance” so, when it comes to making employment-related decisions, they also take into account what options will make good headlines or deliver the most votes to them. Appointed officials, on the other hand, are a little different than those who are elected. They often receive their appointments as a “thank-you” for helping elected officials win their seats. Many times, they aspire to higher level political assignments, so they are more apt to tow the party line. Their decisions are often based on direction they’ve sought from elected officials or political staffers, despite the lingering after-effects those decisions have down the road to frontline, career employees who remain long after decision-makers are gone.
For Federal employees, conditions of employment are much more vulnerable to organizationally-dubious decisions than are employees working in the private sector. Does it make a difference to you whether the terms and conditions of your employment are in the hands of a career, federal employee or an appointee or elected official?