The Fonctionnaire (Part 2): The Manager

From the previous post, it became clear that the "Can't-get-fired" policy has turn the European Institutions, and the Commission in particular, into an unmanageable beast. The reason for this policy, once again a legacy of France, was to insulate the civil servants from the politics.

But before let's recap a bit. At the AD level (Administrators), you have in order: the Fonctionnaire, the Head of Sector, the Head of Unit, the Director, the Director General. It is very compact, given that head of sector is just informal, the head of unit is the one really managing the troops. One very odd thing is that each level is only achievable with a given grade, which, in fact, poorly relates to your competencies. The grade thing (when you move one grade up, you have been promoted) was not really a reward of your competencies rather than a "tour-de-role" (it is changing now). Every year, one fourth/fifth of the unit got some promoted and in 4-5 years, the whole unit moved on step up.

As a result, you have Heads of Unit at around 50 who gets their first real management position. No time to train first on small team... And units can go up to 120 people.

But with the "Can't-get-fired" things, managers have basically no sticks... You end up with quite a huge management issue there.

Imagine yourself at the head of a team and basically no way to reward or punish your people. Quite often, you focus on those people who are still motivated (because they are usually new) or on Contract Agents. On the other hand, you have some unmotivated or lazy bastards who do nothing... What you do with them? you just gave them good points at the end, hoping that another unit will get them!

Heads of Unit are not generally bad bosses. But at this level the competencies required are management skills, and I don't think people are prepared well enough in their transition from technicians to managers.

Eventually, you have units working at the 100% level with only 50% of the headcount. It is not then unusual to have people working until late (those who have a minimum level of motivation or ethic)... The others are just, well, they are just waiting for retirement.

It is now changing, since 2004 with the Kinnock reform, for the worst or for the best... but that will be the subject of an other post.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting stuff, will keep reading!