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FCW : February 2013
30 February 2013 FCW.COM plain, but there was little opportunity to air grievances to anyone who could take action. Since the 1940s, administrative pro- cedures have been implemented that grant employees the right to a hearing. Feds who feel their termination was unfair can also seek the aid of the Merit Systems Protection Board. Strong sup- port from unions also helps employees ght arbitrary terminations. Those protections are good for employees, but they create hassles for managers when legitimate perfor- mance issues surface. "A federal manager who simply wants a poorly performing or non- performing employee to go away, to re them may take more work than they want, so the notion is, I ll just put them in a corner somewhere and give them make-work, and in the worst-case scenario, they can just sit there and gure out how to spend their time, " Palguta said. And although that might be an easy out for the manager, it "is very irritating to the taxpayer." How prevalent are turkey farms? Although turkey farms can be incon- spicuous to outsiders, those in the know say certain titles can be a tip- off. Positions such as "special proj- ects," "special assistant" and "out- reach" often indicate turkey-farmed individuals, said one former federal manager who spoke on background. Getting an actual estimate of how many turkey farms or low perform- ers exist is not easy. "There s no data gathered because there s not an of - cial category with personnel records of someone being assigned to a turkey farm " Palguta said The most recent numbers are from 1999, when the Of ce of Personnel Management s study "Poor Performers in Government: A Quest for the True Story" found that 3.7 percent of the federal workforce were poor perform- ers and 1.5 percent were rehabilitated poor performers. An OPM spokesperson told FCW the agency no longer produces that report. One insider said the of ce might have discontinued it due to the lack of a common de nition of a low performer. "Also, keep in mind that if such a number was published, the political fallout would probably be enormous --- from both sides of the aisle," the source said. Experts have different opinions on whether turkey farms are as common today as they were decades ago. "I don t think we have any evidence that we have less of it today " Lewis said farm, Palguta said. we have less of it today, Lewis said. BY MARK MILLER Leaders are called on to do many things for their organizations: articulate a vision for a better tomorrow, mobilize people, constantly drive improved outcomes, and so on. However, there's one thing the best leaders do that is never written about. They are masterful at simplifying things. Here are some examples of how this happens in real life. • Leaders simplify the mission. Exactly what are we trying to accom- plish? If your answer takes more than a sentence or two, you might not have simpli ed the mission enough. Peter Drucker said a mission statement should t on a T-shirt. If it doesn't, you don't have it yet. • Leaders simplify the values. What are the beliefs that you want to drive the behavior in your organization? The longer the list of values, the less impact they'll have on your organization. So how many should you have? I don't believe there's one right answer, but I do think it's closer to ve than 10. • Leaders simplify the score card. What are the key metrics you use to drive your team and organization? Again, the watchword is "simplify. " I've seen organizations with 20-plus key metrics. You guessed it --- it didn't work. Every- one picked the three to four they wanted to pursue. The result: no organizational focus, no traction, no improvement. • Leaders simplify problems. Admit- tedly, many of the problems we face as leaders are very complex. Don't let that stop you from breaking the problem down into smaller, more manageable chunks. • Leaders simplify processes. The best leaders I know don't like bureau- cracy. Those men and women are always interested in streamlining the process. The questions they ask include: How can we make it easier, make it faster, or reduce the number of steps? • Leaders simplify the strategy. Can you write your core business strat- egy or strategies on the back of a nap- kin? Better yet, can you do it in a picture a 10-year-old could draw? If you want everyone implementing the strategy, they need to get it. • Leaders simplify communica- tions. The next time you're tempted to present a 40-slide PowerPoint deck, try to reduce it to four slides. Here's a sobering test: After you speak to a group, would the audience members agree on your core message? They should. STAY OUT OF THE WEEDS HOW TO Executive Handbook
March 15, 2013