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What's the true story behind the number of poor performers in the Federal workforce? The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) study, "Poor Performers in Government: A Quest for the True Story," states that 3.7 percent of the Federal workforce are poor performers and 1.5 percent are rehabilitated poor performers. The study examines the common perception that there are too many poor performers in the Federal Government.
Peter D. Dickson, study coordinator, says this study provides a realistic perspective on poor performers in the Federal workforce. The study notes that by believing the Government workforce is overrun with poor performers, we are diverting our attention from other important issues and from developing a realistic approach to addressing poor performers.
Good management practices were the key to many of the successes in rehabilitating poor performers. In some cases, it took coaching and assigning employees to a mentor or advisor to help them improve their performance. In other cases, it took placing employees on performance improvement plans, giving the employees very candid counseling, and redefining and clarifying their work responsibilities. The study also notes that giving underperforming employees a less-than-fully satisfactory performance rating can be effective. In several instances, "last chance" agreements with poor performers produced results. (The "last chance" agreements provided confirmation that only two options were left and one of them was removal.) In cases where the employees lacked appropriate job skills, additional training or development helped.
Supervisors reported that discipline or removal of the poor performer served as a wake-up call to their marginal performers. Other benefits included improved employee morale, higher productivity, an increase in the supervisor's credibility with other employees, and restored faith that "the system" can and does work.
The study offers several recommendations, including —
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