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FCW : February 2013
• Leaders simplify next steps. Lead- ers ensure clarity on who will do what by when. If next steps are not clear, next steps might not happen. I had a business leader tell me that this single practice revolution- ized his organization. Clear and simple next steps help. Just recently, someone said to me, "Smart people make things complicated. " My response, "The smartest ones can make things simple. " If you're looking for a way to add instant value in your agency or department, look for something to simplify. ■ Mark Miller (@LeadersServe) is co-author of "The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do" and is vice president of organizational effectiveness at Chick- l-A. He writes about leadership at GreatLeadersServe.org. These days, political appointees are expected to have some quali cations, and presidents must be mindful of their choices to avoid making head- line news. However, there are nearly twice as many appointed positions now compared to the 1950s, and the number of people presidential campaigns are indebted to is also greater, Lewis said. Stewart Liff, an expert in human resources management who worked for more than 30 years in the federal government, said turkey farms are still an issue. "I haven t been to one [agency] where it wasn t a problem," he said. As for how many federal employees are poor performers, Liff said he has heard estimates ranging from less than 5 percent to as many as 10 percent. Palguta, however, said turkey farms are less prevalent today, most- ly because the federal workforce has changed. Many government employ- ees used to do clerical work for low pay, but today the workforce is highly skilled, with an average salary hover- ing around $80,000. In such an environ- ment, low performance "becomes less tolerable," he said. "Senior managers become more demanding" and expect a fair return on investment. "That s starting to happen more than it used to," he added. "Tight budgets are working against those employees who aren t carrying their weight. That s not a bad thing." The Merit Systems Protection Board and the Equal Employment Opportu- nity Commission, among others, share Palguta s belief that turkey farms are rarer than they once were, said William Bransford, a partner at Shaw Brans- ford and Roth, which specializes in employment law and federal person- nel law issues. That s partly because today s managers are more likely to put problem employees on a performance improvement plan, he added. Why do turkey farms happen? Turkey farms do not happen because of poor management so much as a "lack of training and the support from higher-level managers to lower-level managers," said Bransford, who also serves as general counsel to the Senior Executives Association. In addition, agencies tend to think there is too much documentation involved in addressing a problem employee. They are concerned that employees might file grievances or complaints, press charges or simply bog down their managers with so much paperwork that doing one s actual job becomes impossible.
March 15, 2013