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It seems in the Public Service the world does owe you a living

By johnboy - 16 November 2012 70

The Canberra Times has the endlessly depressing news that the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has ruled that trying to help a poorly performing employee improve is now “bullying”.

Feet up on the desk time our public service friends.

Nothing can be done now.

What’s Your opinion?


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70 Responses to
It seems in the Public Service the world does owe you a living
drfelonious 3:37 pm 16 Nov 12

Supervisor should have held the meetings with the employee in her home with appropriate mood lighting, snacks and ambient music (all pre-approved by the employee but paid for by the supervisor of course).

breda 3:35 pm 16 Nov 12

What a debacle. Reading between the lines of the AAT judgement, we had a toxic workplace with high levels of absenteeism and low morale, high staff turnover, inept management and probably overpromoted employees. That someone who performed as poorly as the person in question could get a ‘good’ rating says it all. An APS5 whose job it is to use Excel … well, should be able to use it.

I don’t doubt that this woman had a miserable time, but she seems to have been way out of her depth, as were her supervisors. I mean, after six months she still hadn’t completed updating the personal profiles of Board members? It should have taken a few days, at most. Incompetence all around, it seems.

Ah well, it’s only taxpayers’ money.

schmeah 3:35 pm 16 Nov 12

Interesting. I actually know the alleged “bully” in this scenario and can be reasonably certain that what she was trying to achieve was ‘performance management’ .. it’s also typical for EL1s to be involved in performance management issues – at least from my years in this machine at the noted department.

I do get pretty fed up with this sort of rubbish though. I can accept that her initial fall (in the AAT report) would have impacted on her work .. but to take down a couple of your colleagues over years?

This sort of reaction just makes managers very reluctant to adequately manage under-performing people who are disruptive, unproductive and in their own unique way, bullies themselves.

Thumper 3:17 pm 16 Nov 12

As many here would know, the public service is a strange and different sort of beast.

poetix 3:14 pm 16 Nov 12

johnboy said :

Personally I’d rather a superior took an interest in my performance before I recorded an unsatisfactory appraisal.

Perhaps you could ask?

ezy10z 2:42 pm 16 Nov 12

no one these public service jobs are so highly sought after

johnboy 2:38 pm 16 Nov 12

Personally I’d rather a superior took an interest in my performance before I recorded an unsatisfactory appraisal.

dtc 2:33 pm 16 Nov 12

Interestingly, one of the reasons for the AATs decision is that the supervisor (I think APS6) didnt elevate the issue to higher management but dealt with it on her own (and not appropriately). So much for trying to prevent time consuming CYA actions.

schmeah 2:30 pm 16 Nov 12

birder said :

One woman I know, who is no longer with the public service, was repeatedly demeaned for taking time off – to recover from a second trimester miscarriage

That would make me quit too, in a heart beat. There are some real, REAL office-psychopaths in the public service .. who never seem to get sacked, just promoted and moved around to cause more people workplace grief.

davo101 2:25 pm 16 Nov 12

Jim Jones said :

That gives an entirely different — complex and nuanced — perspective on the whole thing.

Indeed. Particularly right at the end:

The particular administrative issue is whether there were other actions she could have taken to address Ms Martinez’s performance needs without humiliating her by the more formal meetings in a separate room, given her knowledge that Ms Martinez had personal and professional issues, that she had poor self-esteem, and that the management she had instituted hitherto had not been sufficiently effective. The Tribunal considers there were alternative options. She could have sought advice from her superiors or from the human resources team about an alternative approach. Neither of these steps was beyond her personal or professional competence. She did not take them. Instead, to have implemented what could be characterised as an underperformance procedure without the protections for the employee built into that procedure and without going through the formal step of a finding of ‘unsatisfactory’ at a performance appraisal, and to do so in a manner which could reasonably be anticipated would result in the humiliation of the employee, was not tolerable or fair in the circumstances and meant she did not undertake her management action in a reasonable manner.

geoffappleby 2:09 pm 16 Nov 12

Hoe Lee Krapp.

I feel sick.

Jim Jones 2:09 pm 16 Nov 12

RiotFrog said :

And for anyone who cares, all the sordid details: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/aat/2012/795.html

That gives an entirely different — complex and nuanced — perspective on the whole thing.

Quite different from the glib “public servants are all lazy and don’t do nothing” bollocks offered by the OP.

The standard of *cough* ‘journalism’ *cough* in reporting this case from both the Canberra Times and the OP is about on par with a typical Today Tonight story.

birder 1:59 pm 16 Nov 12

Look, I don’t know all the facts. I do know 2 different public service employees, and both are routinely bullied at work. For one, the employee was pulled into a private meeting once a week and harassed about work outputs (that relied on others, so being behind deadline was unavoidable). I agree that the write up in the Canberra Times makes it seem silly, but given what I’ve heard about the rampant bullying in the public service here, I really wonder what isn’t being reported. (One woman I know, who is no longer with the public service, was repeatedly demeaned for taking time off – to recover from a second trimester miscarriage.) BTW, wasn’t there a thread on how public service employees have a greater likelihood of mental health conditions … maybe 6 months ago or so?

colourful sydney rac 1:57 pm 16 Nov 12

awesome, 5 pints at lunch. time for a sleep wahoooooooo!!!!

RiotFrog 1:57 pm 16 Nov 12

And for anyone who cares, all the sordid details: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/aat/2012/795.html

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