Table of Contents
Public personnel administration in the United States has a long and complicated history. It has been evolving since the 18th century and endured different phases. Among them, there were the following: the era of “gentlemen” (1789-1828), the “spoil system” (1829-1882), and the “merit system” (1883-today). It is obvious that the evolution of the public personnel administration is closely connected with the changes in the public personnel management and its principal components, namely recruitment, selection, and promotion. According to the latest research, about 22 million people are occupied in the 89,000 governments in the United States (Rosenbloom, Kravchuk, & Clerkin, 2014). It is curious to know how all these people were selected, recruited, and promoted.
Recruitment is the process of the individuals’ stimulation to apply for the government positions. Among the critical units of the successful traditional management recruitment, there are the following: efforts to recruit not for a single job but for the career; upgrading of the public employment’s image; removal of the useless background requirements (non-job-related requirements, for example, age), attempt to reach all the layers of the population; examining at the convenient place and time. Moreover, the way these units are applied may vary according to the value of the economy and needs for personnel.
The other important element of the public personnel management is the selection process. There is a wide variety of the approaches that are used across the United States to making it. However, the predominant pattern comes from the 19th century reform period. It is based on the ranking system or competitive examination that has to generate the biggest degree of the contest between the applicants. The competitive examination makes it possible to hire the individuals according to their exam scores. In general, the person who scored the highest grade would be employed first whereas the one who achieved the lowest score would be employed last but only if there are enough available positions. Unfortunately, in practice, the person with the highest score is not necessarily the best for the job. Consequently, most jurisdictions try to modify this approach. For instance, they use the selection between the applicants of the groups that have achieved from three to ten highest scores. Such methods nowadays are called the “rule of ten” or “three” or another number (Rosenbloom et al., 2014).
The selection by the examination may produce a list of the persons who have passed the exam. They are ranked according to their results obtained during the examination. Such a list is called the eligible register. When the “rule of three” is applied, for example, the employee is chosen from the top three persons who have achieved the highest scores. Then, when another vacancy occurs, the selection would be made among the last two individuals and the fourth one from the eligible register. Furthermore, a candidate who has not passed the selection phase for three times, for instance, is removed from the list. There would be no difference if his/her score was the lowest or the highest one. Moreover, the modern technologies make it possible to build the eligible registers among the applicants who have passed the relevant examination for the particular job. Also, the direct hiring approach exists. It fosters the greater flexibility and makes it possible to hire the most qualified candidate among all participants.
There exist several types of the examinations. According to Rosenbloom, Kravchuk, and Clerkin (2014), among them there are the following:
- Performance examinations. The major goal of these is to determine whether the applicant is able to perform the tasks that are required in the particular position.
- Written examinations. These exams may stress aptitude, achievements, or both. Typically, the written examinations have machine-scored and multi-choice variety. The main advantage of these exams is that they are inexpensive to administer. Moreover, the written examinations are commercially purchased by the jurisdictions without the necessity of developing own ones.
- Oral examinations. Such exams are typically used for the positions that are of upper-level and include discretionary authority or those with few applicants. Usually, the oral examinations are developed and administered by the commission that makes its judgments according to the beforehand set criteria. The applicants during such exams may appear in groups or alone.
- Assessment centers. The assessment centers may duplicate some features of the performance examinations, but the major idea of them is to put an applicant into the situations that may occur on the job to check his/her abilities of engaging in leadership, getting along with others or exercising discretion. Usually, the ratings in the assessment centers are made according to the predetermined criteria by the commission.
In fact, it does not matter what kind of the examination is chosen. The key thing is its validity. It has to predict the performance level of the applicant at the particular job. However, there are some problems with examinations validations. According to Rosenbloom, Kravchuk, and Clerkin (2014), among them, there are the following:
- It is difficult to create the exam that reflects the conditions of the particular job position. The reason is that the environment of the workplace also affects the productivity of the workers.
- The variations in the scores of the persons who were selected may appear. The applicants may have the same scores, and the ones with the lower scores will not have a possibility to be hired because of the rule of three despite the fact that they may perform quite well at the particular position.
- The performance of the employee has to be measured not only according to his or her score during the examinations. If the performance cannot be measured properly, the validity cannot be demonstrated. The examinations major objective is to show the connection between the applicants’ scores and performances.
However, despite the problems described above, there is a well-developed set of the examination validations approaches.
Promotion is the controversial aspect of the public personnel management because there are fewer positions at the top that at the bottom. Moreover, there is a limit on how high the worker can rise. In addition, when one employee gets a promotion, the other one loses this opportunity. It may cause the fierce competitions among the workers and lead to the discords. To reduce the negative impact on the employee relationship, the promotion by seniority may be used. However, it is not always the best choice in terms of the productivity. Also, the usage of the fair and legitimate examinations may limit the role of the favoritism or other issues in the promotion process. Supposedly, a single employee or a team can be rewarded for the producing the results without having the promotion, especially in the less hierarchical and more flexible organizations.
Modern American public personnel administration has moved from its simplicity to the considerable complexity. Nowadays, approximately 22 million of the citizens are occupied in the public administration sphere. It is important to know how to choose individuals that suit the particular position better and perform with the higher quality. To solve this problem, the public personnel management exists. It includes the three major aspects. Among them, there are the following: recruitment, which is making the government positions more attractive to the applicants; selection or developing and administering the different examinations that will help to choose the best individual among the candidates; and, finally, promotion, which is the employee’s opportunity to move to the higher positions due to his or her performance despite the different subjective reasons.