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I Hate the Civil Service PMDS System (rant!)

  • 24-09-2021 6:50pm
    Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭

    I really hate it. No I'm not exaggerating, I use the word 'hate' on purpose. Let me explain why:

    1. It's so inflexible and massively *massively* time-wasting. We have new entrants being asked to fill out goal setting so they can do a mid-year performance review. They've literally been in the job a week, how the f does it make sense to review their performance 7 days into the job and how is it fair that this review has to go on their permanent record?! It's not! You just can't apply a piece of automated software (which is essentially what the PMDS System is) to human circumstances, this is ludicrous.

    2. I hate how there is an assumption underpinning it that you're underperforming if you're not doing a course or qualification of some kind on top of your fulltime job. Much as I love to further my education and skill set, I also want a good work life balance! And this is connected to:

    3. The goals you set have to be a development on the previous ones, whereas so much of the work in the civil service is responsive in nature so it can't be captured by goal setting. Some believe there are ways to capture this type of work. Maybe there are, but the PMDS form sure isn't it. God, I really really hate this one!

    4. But I think the worst of all is the fact that PMDS is only tied into promotions or transfers in a cursory fashion, even after all the time you waste on it 4 times a year. It doesn't ask you how the competencies for your grade are reflected in your achievements, and you can't add that information in yourself because the software is so inflexible. It can't be used in interviews, it does not provide a way for you to show how your goals could evolve to reflect the competencies of the grade above you, which would be very useful if you wanted to get promoted. I could go on. But ultimately it should be a document that you find very useful when you're going for promotion, at least in my opinion. Yes, I know it's handy to look back at goals to remind yourself what you did for this project etc. (And because we're talking about PMDS let's hope you were working on projects and not working in a customer service role or carrying out research...oh wait...) But I can keep my own records thank you very much. Whch leads me to my last issue.

    5. There's a whiff of infantilisation about it. If you remove the record keeping element, PMDS is there more or less just to prove I've done my job to third parties. This is really offensive, if you ask me.

    FWIW I've never got a bad PMDS rating. I still hate it though!

    Anyway I just had to get that off my chest. Rant over!



  • Registered Users Posts: 347 ✭✭Wonderstruck

    Once literally anyone in your unit at your grade has done it you can copy theirs. Frankly if ANYONE ever has worked in your unit at your grade you can copy theirs. Brilliant for the customer service / research as ctrl v is king !

    Rest assured no one ever looks at old ones once you're onto a new one. I keep changing role and dept so often I think only twice has it even been possible to look back at my PMDS a year later.

    As for education I just throw in I want to do an excel course every single time.

    I just fill it in as early as possible for each review, the boxticking is complete! Does your manager actually "believe" in PMDS? I've either had nuts managers who gave me an obscene amount of unachievable goals or managers who just sign off on it without reading it, I've never had anyone who used it as a performance management tool really.

  • Registered Users Posts: 260 ✭✭markest

    This is reflective of public service it does not affect pay/bonus which you may or may not get in private sector.

    Public sector pay rises are agreed nationally.

  • Posts: 5,917 ✭✭✭[Deleted User]

    No different in the private sector, IBM actually called their process the exact same name.

    Same bullsh1t with no affect on any bonus or pay rise as you got the same as the a person who did the minimum amount of work and had their cases transferred to other more competent team members when the customer eventually got hold of the team manager to complain.

    If you actually wanted a pay rise you went above your line manager, to the centre manager and stated your case.

    The only time it was used against people was when someone fell out with their manager, wouldn't stand up for themselves and accepted a bad rating because the company wanted to reduce head count. But that backfired as they had to initiate a PUP which meant that a person's line manager actually had to do some work or simply as was often the case do a rubber stamp job and the person was back on normal ratings within a year.

    Same sort of stuff used in Irish companies where they have family members/relatives in well paid positions that they don't have the skills or in some cases inclination to do, as they aren't going to be on the dole unless the company folds.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,374 ✭✭✭SortingYouOut

    Unless you get an unsatisafctory rating at the end of the year after I dunno.. murdering your boss or something. I've yet to see someone get a bad one.

    Beverly Hills, California

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,377 ✭✭✭Aisling(",)

    I agree that its a lot of faffing about and time wasting but I've seen it used to put people on improvement plans and used when people were underperforming on probation to be fired/bounced back to their old grade.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 377 ✭✭ThumbTaxed

    I know of one scenario and yer man didn't care.

  • Registered Users Posts: 519 ✭✭✭tv3tg4

    They never ask staff - are you happy in the area.

    Training is ignored,

  • Registered Users Posts: 57 ✭✭starringme

    I've done a lot of research for this question pre-interview and this isn't a PS thing - there's no such thing as a perfect rating system. Some companies have deserted the idea entirely because they're so imperfect but I'd rather have one. My main issue with the PMDS specifically as with most people is the binary rating. Although it's a pain in the hole, the goal setting can focus the mind to an extent. The rest is box ticking and takes no time at all. I also haven't ever been managed via the form.

    OP - agree it's inflexible and frustrating e.g. you can't take on staff mid-year but there are aspects of the rant I don't really get. Training isn't mandatory, and if staff start mid-year then presumably you just say 'ongoing' in their mid-year review. And on point 5, as I understand it that's basically the point of any 'performance management system' anywhere - to prove to your managers you've done your job and see what's the problem if you didn't.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,208 ✭✭✭✭recode the site

    I do do do agree with OP!! Biggest waste of working time, an absolute farce. I’m retired now, but PMDS records where I worked everybody’s records were left visible to all and sundry because they were in a folder on a shared VPN. The extremely lazy boss gave the exact mediocre 3 point score to every single staff member and made no secret about it. Made no odds anyway, you got paid the same. It was just demoralising and pointless.

    An example of the Attendant’s PMDS, if I can recall correctly, or something very like it:

    Task: To open front door daily.

    Outcome: front door opened successfully each day.

    Potential Barriers: Potential mechanical obstruction of door.

    Score: 3/5

    Can I get away with anything if I pay the piper, so to speak?

  • Registered Users Posts: 279 ✭✭HartsHat

    I find the textual feedback/rating good. It's also useful to keep track of what you did during a particular year.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 6,424 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

    It's handy to refer to when going for promotion. List off the courses you've done but otherwise its pointless.

    Had to do my mid year review the day before I left a department.

  • Registered Users Posts: 20,336 ✭✭✭✭Rikand

    I like the goal setting and the courses that you intend to do as i feel it gives me something to work towards if I've got it written down somewhere official.

    But otherwise, it is largely pointless and everything year on year is a copy and paste of the previous year

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,397 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

    Its a mostly a dumb tick the box form filling exercise.

    But it be used negatively. You can set someone unrealistic goals, and mark it unsatisfactory.

  • Registered Users Posts: 347 ✭✭Wonderstruck

    Seen the last one quite a few times, strictly speaking you're supposed to set your own goals, though with the kind of manager who does this sort of thing it's not exactly easy to push back on it!

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,208 ✭✭✭✭recode the site

    Yeah you are supposed to suggest your own goals, but naturally the manager is likely to make suggestions and sometimes it is just practical that they do.

    Can I get away with anything if I pay the piper, so to speak?

  • Registered Users Posts: 11,397 ✭✭✭✭Flinty997

  • Registered Users Posts: 347 ✭✭Wonderstruck

    Ah yeah you know what I mean, I once had a goal back in my first CO job that was "cleaning teacups" you can't make this stuff up. Anyways she was hoist by her own petard as later she tried to deny she had given me such an nonsensical goal (as if I had came up with it myself?) and also failed my mid year / end of year (cant remember which now) on the basis my tea cup cleaning skills were poor(?!) I would think it was a hallucination but it's still there on my pmds record hahhaah.

    Obviously your manager would know what the future plans are in the unit, no point specialising in something if that task is going to be shelved / automated / given to another division / not even handled by your dept anymore etc. But I don't think every goal should be spoonfeed from the manager you should have a little flexiblity on what stuff you genuinely would like to put time into getting better at.

    But again again you can see that after the teacup incident perhaps that's why I'm very pleased my present manager is one who approves it without looking too closely(!) Also I can rest assured no one has ever looked at my old pmds cos it's so crazy I feel at least one manager since would have been like "that's an odd goal / why did you fail pmds that year?" No I don't work in that dept anymore!

  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭lucat

    Cleaning Teacups?! My god. Goals like that prove my original point, I think!

  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭lucat

    I was asked to do a goal setting and a mid-year review the week I started in a new department. Seriously, a performance review after 3 days on the job! Lets just say I "lost" that email! You wouldn't want to be new in the CS though. The lack of common sense & flexibility is what irritates me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 916 ✭✭✭Páid

    That's not correct. Having an unsatisfactory PMDS review will mean that the staff member won't get an increment or be eligible for promotion.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 337 ✭✭lucat

    I think that sliding scale rating is done away with now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,424 ✭✭✭SouthWesterly

    Common sense with some doesn't improve with service.