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PS managers ranked the worst

Public service managers aren't hitting all the marks.

Public service managers aren't hitting all the marks. Photo: Erin Jonasson

Public service managers rate poorly in a study released by the Australian Institute of Management.

They ranked lowest across all 10 categories in the Australian Management Capability Index, an online survey of 460 CEOs.

It gives a particularly low ranking to the public sector across the three tiers of government for innovation and people leadership.

The problems have been recognised by governments, with the Australian Public Service Commission running a session on innovation for all SES later this month.

Institute national president Brian Nye is also concerned Australian managers across all sectors are ill-equipped for the Asian Century because they are working at only 70 per cent of their capabilities.

"Managers across the economy underperform in key business areas," he said.

"We face serious issues unless managers improve their skills and knowledge and then apply them in the workplace."

The index rated managers in areas affecting performance and profit including leadership, financial and organisational management, technology and relationships.

Australian managers scored 70.3 out of 100 for management capabilities.

"The index's lowest score, 60.3, is for managers demonstrating international perspectives and understanding global markets and thinking," Mr Nye said.

"That level of capability means we will struggle to meet the government's challenge to benefit fully from the Asian boom."

29 comments

  • PS is a strange beast. Being in a department for 10 years doesn't make you a people manager, nor does it make you a leader no matter how many role playing classes you went to. A strange phenomena that time in service equates to skill, knowledge or ability - which it does not

    Commenter
    TheJoker1214324
    Date and time
    March 13, 2013, 1:43PM
    • This is true. Many 'mamangers' in the PS are in management positions because they've been there long enough and its the 'next step' on their career progression. Not because they're actually good at managing. How you change that however...

      Commenter
      That Guy
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      March 13, 2013, 3:23PM
  • In order for public servants to protect their domain, in a lot of cases they are adverse to hiring people they see as better qualified or where a candidate has more experience. Merit based selection fails here as candidates are selected by people wanting to protect their fiefdoms, and they use this process to do so. Also most accountability currently is with the SES band 3's and the EL2's. Use of consultants or advisors is also rife and a waste of taxpayer dollars because these people are paid to make decisions and don't, due to them being risk averse. I know recently of someone given a position in public sector because she is the wife of another, buddy. How was this merit based selection? Then there are public servants of Indian, Sri Lankan and Pakistan origin bringing folks in on 457 visa and "bonding" them all their families for positions.. It's a joke and needs a thorough brush put through it.

    Commenter
    Motherofopinion
    Date and time
    March 13, 2013, 1:53PM
    • totally agree, nepotism is rife. PS needs to bring in Ari Gold (entourage) with his paint gun.

      Commenter
      stoney
      Date and time
      March 13, 2013, 2:43PM
    • +1

      Particularly agree with your comment on Managers protecting their domanancy in the workplace. I witnessed this first hand last year which was discraceful. For some, having your ego massaged each day becomes more important than work output, and staff management slowly begins to reflect the change in priority...

      Secondly, staff too quicly promoted to EL1 never learn key staff management skills, and aren't monitored for their lack of staff management skills by their EL2 supervisors far too busy to notice. Thus you end up with the scenario this article is concerned with.

      Commenter
      ACT
      Date and time
      March 13, 2013, 4:03PM
  • This is a bit deceptive. The article states they are the worst - but the report is a self assessement and outlined that CEO's of the public service could benefit from working on their management capabilities. The article headline assumes that public service managers were 'ranked' from an independent outside source. If anything - this article should outline that public service management feel they could improve and should be given resources to do it.

    Commenter
    M
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    March 13, 2013, 1:59PM
    • Its impossible to be an effective manager when you are constantly worried about poor performers playing the "Bully" card, ethnic workers using the "Racist" card and women following the PM's lead and crying "Misogynist". Added to that is the impossiility of sacking the dead wood and bludgers. 15 years in the APS - 9 of those years in management positions - was enough.

      Commenter
      Bronte
      Date and time
      March 13, 2013, 2:10PM
      • You know what also makes a good manager? Not being racist or sexist or a bully. Those things being an obstacle don't mean the system is wrong... It means you're being a bigot.

        Commenter
        orly
        Date and time
        March 13, 2013, 7:17PM
      • I think you hit the nail on the head Bronte, Managers are finding it difficult to manage people who are there solely to bleed the public purse. Those things surely are an obstacle to the progression of the PS. Traditionally, people have not had this level of protection from being a functioning member of society by way of PC, HR and OHS distractions, that older australians have grown accustomed to. The vast majority of the current batch of PS workers feel an entitlement to their position. They do not have to prove their worth because their managers cannot ask them to do so from fear of reverse criticism and possible legal retribution.
        I cannot imagine where we are headed in the next 10 years, given the fall from grace of the past 10. Glad I'm in the private sector!

        Commenter
        mashers
        Date and time
        March 13, 2013, 10:42PM
      • Ah, now look who is playing the Bigot card, Orly! Your comment validates mine!!!

        Commenter
        Bronte
        Date and time
        March 14, 2013, 8:18AM

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