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Federal HR Pros Think Agency Managers Lack the Skills to Succeed

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Thu Aug 09 2012

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(From Government Executive) -- One-third of federal human resources professionals don’t think agency managers have the skills to succeed, according to a new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton LLP.

The bleak assessment of agency line and operations managers shows a growing unease among HR professionals in the current political and fiscal environment, ranging from concern over potential workforce reductions to the increasing competition for talented employees. Thirty-three percent of the 55 HR leaders surveyed this past spring said managers and supervisors in their agencies either lacked leadership skills entirely, or had them “to a limited extent.” That’s an increase of 15 percentage points from a similar 2008 survey.

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Forty-nine percent of those interviewed in 2012 believed managers had the talent to succeed “to a moderate extent.” Just 18 percent of those surveyed for the 2012 report, however, believed managers possessed the right skills to be successful at their jobs to a “great extent” or a “very great extent.” The report, which called that statistic “alarming,” said it was 26 percentage points less than findings from a 2008 survey.

“It does jump out,” Robert Shea, a principal at Grant Thornton, said of HR professionals’ assessment of managerial talent. The federal workforce has “horrible morale issues” right now due to negative characterizations of government employees from political leaders and shrinking budgets, among other hurdles, he said. People realize how important leadership skills are in that kind of environment. “You can see who is really good and can handle the pressure, and who’s not,” Shea said.

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