The new model, currently operating in 90% of the civil service, advises managers to divide their staff into three categories: the top 25%, the middle-ranging 65%, and the bottom 10%. Kerslake’s blog ‘Performance management – addressing your concerns’ said that the ratings are intended to be “guided – not forced”, and that feedback on the new system has been “positive”.
However, civil servants rushed to attack the new system, branding it “unfair”, “wrong”, “divisive” and “unworkable”, and complaining that it’s creating stress and depression, fostering staff anxiety and tensions, and worsening favouritism.
Many argued that while the category percentages are presented as guidelines, in practice managers are treating them as hard targets. One comment read: “Managers are stressed having to adhere to unfair forced distribution curves and deal with grievances and the impact on staff.”
Of 524 comments online as CSW went to press, only 22 were supportive: 17 submitted by 10 managers, and five written by two lower-ranking civil servants.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said the new system “focuses on...recognising those who are performing well and supporting those whose performance needs improvement,” adding that “any change can be unsettling as people get up to speed with new processes”.
See also: Editorial