Civil service red tape makes talented staff ‘bored and disillusioned’ according to minister Francis Maude

Excessive bureaucracy and red tape has created a culture in the civil service where talented people become disillusioned and poor performance is rewarded, Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has said.

“Civil servants often find themselves frustrated by numerous layers of management and a culture that tends to value generalist over the specialist, and process over outcome,” he said.

“Caution too often trumps innovation, and talented people can feel unappreciated and become bored and disillusioned … too often good management is constrained by people’s terms and conditions, whether real or perceived,” he added.

Speaking at the Civil Service Live exhibition in central London, he also criticised the culture of rewarding poor performance in the civil service, citing one example where an underperforming worker was given a £100,000 payoff.

“We should not be paying poor performers to leave at a time when we are constrained on rewarding our top performers,” he said.

Maude also unveiled plans to reduce the size of the civil service from 80,000 to 45,000 and to save costs by relocating them from expensive offices.

There was, he said, “a recognition that we don’t need to have so many people within the central London postcodes”, adding that some Cabinet Officials had already moved in with HM Treasury.

He also criticised the culture whereby policy officials were often preferred for promotion ahead of those with management experience.

“We rightly insist that no one can occupy a top job without some serious management exposure,” said Maude.

“But it remains the case that departmental permanent secretaries are overwhelmingly drawn from the ranks of policy officials.”

XpertHR’s performance management policies and documents include a line manager briefing on conducting effective appraisals. A survey published earlier this year looks at the most common poor performance issues.

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