Conducting performance appraisals sounds about as fun as going to the dentist, but the impact of these employee evaluations can’t be overstated. It’s how the job determines if you should be rewarded for good work, disciplined for not meeting expectations, promoted to a better job, or fired from the one you have.
That’s why AFGE demanded a seat at the table when the Department of Defense got to work on designing a new performance appraisal system, called New Beginnings, that will be deployed to nearly all civilian employees over the next two years.
The stakes are high to make sure New Beginnings is successful. Some leaders within the Pentagon have proposed scrapping the entire civilian personnel system and giving supervisors carte blanche authority to determine who is hired, fired, promoted, or demoted.
“We’ve got one shot to make sure this is done right or we may end up with a system that guts all of our existing rights and protections,” said Don Hale, chairman of AFGE’s Defense Conference (DEFCON).
AFGE and DEFCON have fought to ensure that locals are able to negotiate details of the new performance appraisal system before it’s rolled out. DoD originally wanted to move the first wave of 15,000 employees into the new system on April 1. But because it didn’t give locals enough time to complete bargaining, AFGE pressed the Pentagon to hold off on moving non-bargaining unit employees into the new system until a majority of bargaining is done so all employees can move into the system together.
A second, smaller group of employees will move into the system in October, but the next major transition will be in April 2017, when about 280,000 employees will move to the new system.
Under New Beginnings, employees will be evaluated using a three-tier rating scale. Employees will be involved in setting their performance expectations at the start of the year and writing a self-assessment at the end of the cycle that the supervisor will consider in setting the final rating. Employees must meet at least 3 times with their supervisor during the year to discuss progress toward meeting performance goals and be given clear guidance on what to do to improve any performance issues.
AFGE believes New Beginnings meets the desire by Congress for an effective performance appraisal system which protects the legal rights and protections of the Pentagon civilian workforce.
AFGE has developed detailed training on the new system. The first training was conducted in April in Memphis; subsequent trainings are planned for the Midwest Regional Training in July.