July 12, 2010 at 2:16 pm #105343
My director asked me to do an environmental scan of survey practices and content “out there”. We have been using a survey of hiring managers, and another of candidates, to monitor the state of the merit system, and staffing practices across the whole of the Canadian federal public service. Although we have been doing so for several years now, we are approaching an “inflection point” in the design of the surveys, and would like to know what others might be doing of a similar nature, in case there are better ideas out there. A little lateral thinking is good for us now and then.
Some context for the request would be good. Canadian federal law now adopts an individual-merit notion, that permits the manager to use top-down if they wish, or to select whomever they feel is a best-fit (provided they are deemed as qualified in a defensible manenr). Government agencies are permitted to use the recruitment and staffing techniques they wish, as long as those methods correspond to the staffing values outlined in legislation. As the overseer of merit, we (the Public Serrvice Commission of Canada) no longer micro-manage staffing, but delegate authority for hiring to agencies/departments. We “check in” on all those organizations annually, via surveys and audits (on a 7-year cycle), and the delegated authority can be revoked if we find the values are not being respected.
While it would be great if HR information systems were so well organized that everything we need to know about staffing was automatically provided electronically as administrative data, that is sadly waaaaayyyyyyy off in the future (along with hoverboards, home robots, and cheap electric cars for everyone). So, the role of our survey activity is to find out what it is that hiring managers DO when staffing, how processes are conducted, and what those who participate in processes think about them. Perhaps more importantly, we are using surveys as an ongoing monitoring mechanism for the long-term, rather than as a one-off for research purposes.
Does YOUR organization use surveys to see what’s doing in staffing in a remotely comparable fashion, and of so, could you contact me to chat a little about it? If such a scan is of use to you, I’ll be happy to provide feedback on what I’ve learned.
Thanks for your interest, and for whatever help you can offer.
Mark Hammer, Ph.D.
Principal Analyst – Surveys Division,
Data Services and
Audit, Evaluation and Studies Branch,
Commission of Canada,
300 Laurier Ave. W., Ottawa
July 12, 2010 at 3:15 pm #105347
I work for Canada Revenue Agency and we’ve developed a brief survey which we send to hiring managers at the completion of a selection process. We’ve been using the “best-fit” model now for about 10 years and it works very well for us. Giving managers the flexibility to place a candidate based on one or more specific criteria or even depth and breadth of experience vs “overall performance” is seen as a plus.
I’ll send you a copy of the survey we use and would be happy to chat about it if you want.
Canada Revenue Agency
July 12, 2010 at 3:25 pm #105345
That’d be great, Rod. I tried looking for you on G.E.D.S., but I guess you’re one of the many that aren’t listed. Pop me a note off-line, and we can continue.
I would not in any way describe what we presently send to managers as “brief”. Part of that results from a perceived need to be able to extract data to look at particular circumstances and contexts. It is also the case that, when surveying across “the whole of government”, the diversity of approaches to staffing makes it exceedingly difficult to use the resulting data to compare organizations of different sizes and missions UNLESS one acquires a mountain of contextual data to know WHAT constituency you’re hearing from what the heck it is that managers are telling you about. I don’t expect the exact same things to matter to a local supervisor in a small district office of 20 employees who have the best damn jobs for 100 miles around, and a manager of a large directorate at HQ whose employees keep leaving because of all the local promotion opportunities.
I would expect any within-agency survey, even for an agency as big and geographically decentralized as yours, to be leaner and more focussed. Part of our own challenge at this juncture is to do some soul-searching about what it is we really need to be asking, and what we can safely leave behind.
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