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Reform of toxic performance management, “a triumph for common sense”


Prospect will work to ensure that the civil service has a performance management system that has the confidence of staff following Cabinet Office moves to reform the much-reviled assessment framework.

The union, which represents 30,000 professionals, managers and specialists in the civil service and government agencies, has particularly welcomed a move away from so-called forced distribution that sought arbitrary quotas for performance categories including under performers. The reforms will give departments and agencies flexibility to develop and design their own performance management systems in future within a framework of guiding principles. This is much-needed good news,” said Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham. “Prospect will be engaging both at a national level with Civil Service Employee Policy and at a local level with employers to ensure that we develop performance management systems that are fit for the future and, fundamental to that, have the confidence of staff.”

Forced distribution
Graham continued: “The system of arbitrary quotas was seen as toxic both by managers tasked with operating the system and staff subject to the process. Many saw the process as demotivating, unfair and potentially discriminatory with it often leading to the perverse situation that those performing to acceptable standards and meeting their objectives were marked down to meet artificial targets.” Heralding the decision as a “triumph for common sense”, Graham added: “The hard work starts here and the prize is a win-win situation where the performance management process works both in terms of supporting staff and the organisation they work for. He concluded: “It is good to see that the arguments and evidence brought forward by Prospect and our members have ultimately been listened to and we will be seeking to engage positively with employers and the Cabinet Office”.

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