The current 'obsession' with target-setting in the public sector works against good people management and undermines performance, new research claims.
The report, 'People and Public Services: Why Central Targets Miss the Mark' from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says the public sector needs to rethink its ‘top-down’ approach to public service reform.
The research shows that local leadership capable of energising and enabling people is the key to transformational change in the public sector.
Mike Emmott, CIPD head of employee relations, said focusing on targets can undermine the trust needed for high performance and slow down the process of change.
"Targets are, at best, an imperfect tool for managing change. By definition, many stretching targets are going to be missed but this does not mean an organisation is necessarily 'failing'," he said.
Michael Barber, head of the Prime Minister’s delivery unit, in written evidence to the House of Commons’ Public Administration select committee this week, said: "Any target that is shown not to be contributing to better performance should be reviewed or dropped."
The report argues the Government should replace the existing framework for reform with one that:
- reduces the number of centralised targets
- increases consultation on the targets that are set
- allows greater managerial discretion at local level over pay-setting
- puts people management at the very heart of the reform process by shifting from a command-and-control style of management to a high-performance model based on autonomy and trust.