Common Complaints About Federal Managers

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This topic contains 17 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Tim Evans 8 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #107607

    Jaime Gracia

    A recent article in FCW pointed out the three most common complaints by federal employees about their managers. According to the article, these complaints include:

    1) Freeloaders are given a free pass.
    2) Conscientious workers go unrewarded.
    3) Managers do not trust their employees.
    What other complaints are out there about federal managers? I hope we can also get some issues being raised by federal managers themselves about employees, as I am sure managers must also share similar frustrations.
    Most importantly, the article also ends by asking Now What? What can we do to improve performance for both managers and employees to be more effective?

  • #107641

    Tim Evans

    Managers do not *back* their employees. They approve something, then, when someone questions it, dump on the analyst instead of standing up and taking the heat themselves.

  • #107639

    Peter Sperry

    If some of the “concientious” workers spent less time worrying about the “freeloaders” and more time doing their jobs, managers might trust them more.

  • #107637


    I know this discussion is about Federal Managers, however I believe this is more universal. I have seen it go on at the state level, and in private sector. I know there are folks who believe that training is the answer, but I’m not so sure. A manager must be willing to implement what they’ve learned in the traning room back at their worksite. You know the saying, you can lead a horse to water….

  • #107635

    Darryl Perkinson

    I tend to agree with Tricia. I am a manager and have been privledged to work with some excellent people at my activity. I have also had the employees who tend to challenge your skills. I feel my success has occurred when I had the time to allow the employees to learn in the real environment and be available to answer questions. While I think learning the processes is important the real experience comes from actually doing the work. As experienced workers have left the ability to spend time growing with my employees has diminished. Another impact on managers has been that human resource functions such as hiring, interviews and rating of the employees has fallen to the manager due to HR reductions.

  • #107633

    Tracy Kerchkof

    They are too “busy”. I use quotation marks because I’m not always convinced that they are actually busy, I’ve seen a lot of people that just have poor time management skills.

  • #107631

    Anne Steppe

    I agree with Peter; however, it’s easier said than done. Eventually the affect of “freeloaders” will negatively reflect the rest of the staff; it’s inevitable. Regrettably, too, is the fact that many supervisors won’t take action – ever – because of the bureaucracy in firing a fed, including dealing with the unions. From personal experience, even when an adverse personnel action is justified, the unions hold so much power that it’s a losing situation (from management’s perspective) from the onset.

  • #107629

    Peter Sperry

    Actually, what I was trying to get at is that often the manager is the only one with a broad enough view to correctly identify who is a “freeloader” and who is “concientious”. When i was in the private sector, we used to compare revenue statistics and not uncommonly, some of the reps who seemed to demonstrate subpar work habits were generating more revenue than some of the nose to the grindstone types. I’ve also seen many similar situations in the public sector involving employees who seem like freeloaders but produce great results. The “concientious” employees who are so bent out of shape over “freeloaders” may want to ask themselves, “is the manager really playing favorites or simply rewarding results instead of effort?”

  • #107627

    jill herndon

    MIssing basic subject area vocabulary in IT fields, and non-comprehension of scope of work and employee effort and successes.

  • #107625

    Jenyfer Johnson

    Most managers will not take the time to document the “freeloaders” so that they can take the action to eventually get that person fired (if they are that bad) and then, as someone said earlier, they wouldn’t have to be stopped by the Union because everything would be documented. That’s what makes us “workers” mad.

  • #107623

    Diedre Tillery

    Currently, the biggest complaint I have is the lack of communication. This is the second time I have had a manager that does not leave the office, stays in with the door firmly locked (no open door policy here), doesn’t keep the team in the loop on the status of the agency and ongoing projects and from this all sorts of mayhem follows. The rumor mill has becomes the default communication channel, there is no clear understanding of expectations and morale has been driven to the sub-basement. I am especially concerned since end of year reviews are emininent and so far I have had only one complete conversation face to face so I can’t imagine what kind of evalution I will receive. Apparently this person had a reputation of this behavior before their appointment so I am equally taken aback by upper management’s lack of care in placing this person in a postion that is critical to the external perception of our agency.

  • #107621

    Jaime Gracia

    Management and leadership requires communication, collaboration, and the ability to harness the best in people. If subordinates are not performing, it should be the responsibility of the manager to improve that performance. Closed door policies and the “why bother” attitude only helps exacerbate the real issue; lack of accountability. Managers must manage, by whatever means are necessary which should include coaching, feedback, and ensuring performance.

  • #107619

    Geanie Litzman

    I have a problem with the perceived notion of freeloaders, sometimes you think you know what is going on with a co-worker and what they are and aren’t doing/completing. For example, I take longer to complete something things in my job than others in my office, that was because I was relatively new at the time 3-4 years as opposed to 8-9. One of my co-workers said that I was abusing telework and not doing any work. However, I was just taking longer to do it. I then followed this particular employee on several inspections, we have requirements for what needs to be done on an inspection and I could tell from the problems discovered at the inspection that she had not been doing what was required. She said I was a freeloader because I took more time to do something but she wasn’t actually doing what was required of her. So who is the real freeloader? I have since spoken with several people who have been in the field with her and said that she does not do everything that she is required to do. My other point is that you need to be cautious of calling someone a freeloader because you may not know what is going on with that employee.

  • #107617

    Jaime Gracia

    @Geanie – That is entirely the point of accountability, which as you experienced, is not always a strength of federal management.

  • #107615

    Carol Davison

    This HR specialist believes that it always was a LEADER’S role to interview, provide feedback, train, appraise, and reward employees. How could we be expected to know what your workplaces needs and how well employees are performing?

  • #107613

    Jaime Gracia

    Some functions can not, and should not be delegated. You do not delegate core leadership functions and responsibility, as the leader should be held accountable for these actions.

  • #107611

    Ed Albetski

    I agree that communication can be a big problem, but often that does not originate with first-line managers; they may be under orders not to share. The secrecy over the silliest things often amazes me.

    One solution to the “freeloader” problem that one boss I worked for always stressed was finding the right job for each individual. He took the time to access his “problem children” and more often that not found tasks that they could and would excel at. He was an excellent manager; not all are.

    The number of hoops a manager has to jump thru in the Federal system for any punitive action is rarely worth the time or trouble. These “freeloaders” are then marginalized; put where they can do no harm. Yes, they still get paid, but they get no bonuses or promotions. It’s probably just best to mind your own career…

  • #107609

    Jaime Gracia

    Holding people accountable is a major theme for effective management, but a difficult issue to execute on as you say @ Ed

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