Members’ Briefing

To:       All Members

cc:       Group Executive Committee

Date: 3 August 2016 HO/MB/049/16
Summary: Department begin consultation over proposals to replace current PDR and forced ranking system.


As reported in the last briefing on the subject of the PDR and forced ranking, the Department is on the way to a remarkable change of direction on this issue.  This loss of faith in the current PDR process is undoubtedly in no small part down to the activities and pressure exerted by members here in the Home Office and across the Civil Service.


Consistent and persistent challenges to the process through consultation meetings, and members’ grievances, followed by a magnificent effort in collecting signatures to a petition, in the face of a ban on collecting them on Home Office property, has led to our current situation. PCS has backed this by commissioning academic studies into the disastrous diversity outcomes (view full report) and a Civil Service wide survey of members, which again has been analysed by the same academic team (report available online).



Following the last briefing and the launch of the “Let’s Talk” initiative to consult with the wider workforce, PCS held members’ meetings up and down the country.  We were able to put together real life examples, the views on the current system and what members wanted to replace it with.


Our feedback was submitted to management, and we have subsequently met to discuss the results.  Of course there is no need to rehearse the problems with the current system as members will be fully aware of those and more important were the issues around what good performance management looks like and what a replacement system should be.


New Proposals

Members may have noticed a story on Horizon, which swiftly disappeared off the front page, announcing that the Department had designed four potential prototype systems which they intend to consult staff over.


To do this they intend to hold (what they describe as), “Dragons’ Den” events.  At these it is intended that each of the systems will be pitched and interrogated by Dragons.  PCS was concerned that the badging of these risked trivialising a subject which does not feel like light entertainment to those on the wrong end of the forced ranking system.  However, more importantly we were concerned over how Dragons were selected and that all the audience would have the opportunity to quiz the four proposals and have their say.  We would therefore encourage members to attend the events to be held in Marsham Street today (3/8), Vulcan House on 11 August, Capital Building on 12 August and Lunar House on the 16 and 17 August.  PCS believe that it is important that our members attend and their voices are heard.


Looking at the list of locations members will notice that they do not fully cover the UK and our members in operational areas especially ports and enforcement offices are not going to be able to attend.  It is planned that this will be done via team briefing sessions, and we ask that members ensure these occur and report to their local reps if they are not.


Details of the Proposals

Unhelpfully PCS has not been provided with the full details of the four separate proposals, which we would like to share with you in order to properly consult and represent your views.  However, what we do know is that it is likely that the proposals will cover a broad range and that forced ranked (guided distribution) will not be included in any of them.


What we do know is the principles that members have given us through feedback, members’ meetings and conference policy.  We believe that any replacement system, should be:

  • Consistent across the Department – Members work in a variety of roles in very different fields.  However we are all Civil Servants and work for the Home Office, and should be subject to the same overarching performance policy and process, ensuring consistency of application and treatment.
  • Removal of Forced Ranking – As noted above there is not much to add on this despised and discriminatory aspect of the current process.
  • End to box markings – In addition to the above, members were clear that they saw no value in being pigeon holed at the end of year.  What was important was qualitative feedback on their progress and performance rather than an arbitrary marking.
  • Removal of Bonuses – None of us objects to receiving more pay! However members felt the use of bonuses could not be justified as an incentive, proper reward mechanism or that its current use was demonstrably fair or equitable.
  • Regular One to Ones – Members value honest regular feedback with managers about training and development, rather than a box ticking linked to mid year and end of year appraisals.  This would obviously mean more time for managers and a refocus of the discussions away from punitive measures and towards a developmental positive approach.
  • Fully Equality Proofed – One of the major issues with the current system is that it detrimentally effects members in protected groups.  This is true for disabled and BME members, and links have been demonstrated to age and working pattern.  Any replacement must be equality proofed and not contain aspects which could lead to similar outcomes.



PCS is concerned that these Dragons’ Den events are scheduled for the summer period, when we know many members will be unavailable.  We expect the finalised proposal to be put before PCS for final consultation towards the end of the year with the possibility of launch for the next performance year starting 2017.


We have made some great strides but our success will not just be judged by removal of the current system but by what replaces it.  As ever it is PCS Union and our members that are driving this change and we are demonstrating that we are stronger together part of a union that delivers.


  James Cox
  Assistant Group Secretary