The case of DG NEAR: an organisational chart …
“doing the job”
The results of the Staff Survey for DG NEAR are very worrisome and
require an immediate and effective response!
In the past we have criticised the practice of leaving senior management positions vacant for long periods. This criticism has also been echoed in the press.
Plunging the services into a state of uncertainty, contributing to the setting up of a “permanent election” campaign among potential internal and external candidates and feeding internal communication with “corridor rumours” concerning the persons likely to be selected in fine, can only weaken the functioning of our institution and also weaken the perception of the independence of its services.
This is particularly true when the political responsibility for these services is assumed by Commissioners who indulge in micro-management practices in their administration… and who seem to enjoy it by taking advantage of the precariousness of the senior management…
The case of DG NEAR: an organisational chart … “doing the job”
Back then, we highlighted the situation at DG NEAR and praised the spirit of dialogue shown by former DG Christian Danielsson when he accepted the pressing demands of his staff and their representatives and decided to give up the project of installing an open space.
Mr Danielsson left DG NEAR in September 2020 for a post at the Representation in Stockholm. 18 months later, the post of Director General is still vacant (a record in the Commission?) and there is already press speculation about his replacement (lPolish envoy’s bid for top EU post sparks Brussels backlash – POLITICO), which should have helped to ensure a speedy appointment procedure that would guarantee the stability that these services desperately need.
However, there is more to it than this one post: to date, 5 out of 6 Director posts are vacant!
This is an absolutely unique situation in the Commission, for which we cannot find any logical explanation: aren’t there enough qualified colleagues to be appointed to these posts?
This situation is all the more intolerable in view of the extremely sensitive tasks entrusted to DG NEAR, which are of even greater importance in the current political crisis.
The point here is not to question the qualities and commitment of the colleagues who ensure continuity in the running of the services under conditions which are obviously very difficult and whose efforts we hail, having to carry out the twofold function of Head of Unit and Director, but rather to strongly denounce the procrastination resulting from discussions or disputes over granting these management posts, which can only weaken and plunge a Directorate General into a state of deep uncertainty.
Moreover, these extended vacancies are bound to lead to the painful scenario of political parachuting ahead of the end of the college’s mandate, which we strongly hope this Commission can spare its staff and the European citizens from.
The results of the Staff Survey for DG NEAR are very worrisome and require an immediate and effective response
Indeed, the colleagues of DG NEAR have expressed all their concerns, in particular on the assessment of Senior Management.
Concerning “Senior management”
There is no doubt that colleagues are deeply dissatisfied with senior management, or rather with the lack of stability.
Indeed, DG NEAR is among the 3 DGs with the lowest satisfaction rate as regards the question “The senior management team takes a visible leadership role“, with a drop of 15 points from 62% in 2018 to 47% in 2021 and a gap of 14 points compared to the Commission average (61%), which itself has increased by 6 points.
DG NEAR is ranked among the 5 DGs with the lowest satisfaction index for the following 3 questions:
47% of staff are satisfied with the question “The senior management team gives clear guidance on the mission, objectives and tasks”, while the Commission average is 57%, i.e. a difference of 10 points.
Only 39% of staff are satisfied with “The senior management team demonstrates strong leadership skills” with a 12 point decrease compared to 2018. The Commission average is 53%, a rise of 7 points.
“The senior management team communicates effectively with staff” with a satisfaction rate of 41% compared to the Commission average of 56%.
It is also among the 10 DGs with the lowest satisfaction rate on the question “The senior management team is open to input from staff” with a rate of 47%, compared to the Commission average of 55%.
Concerning « Middle management »
On the other hand, it is reassuring to note that the satisfaction rate of middle management remains within the average of the Institution, which shows that the staff of DG NEAR acknowledges the efforts made by the Heads of Unit when faced with the precarious situation concerning senior management.
Concerning the objective and purpose of the organisation
DG NEAR is also ranked among the 5 DGs whose satisfaction index has dropped regarding the question “the institution has a clear set of priorities and goals” with a drop of 8 points. It is ranked among the 6 DGs with the lowest satisfaction index for the question “My DG has a clear set of priorities and objectives“.
Furthermore, there is also a 5 point drop in the question “I believe my work makes a difference to the lives of European citizens” to 66%, well below the Commission average of 74%.
Concerning well-being and work/life balance
DG NEAR is among the 10 DGs with the lowest satisfaction index for the question “I think my DG cares about my well-being” with a rate of 42%, whereas the Commission average is 52%, i.e. 10 points lower.
It is also among the 10 DGs with the lowest satisfaction index for workload, at 44% compared to the Commission average of 51%.
Despite an increase of 4 points concerning work/life balance, DG NEAR remains among the 10 DGs with the lowest satisfaction index, 46%, and 7 points lower than the average for the institution.
DG NEAR is also among the 10 DGs whose staff find it most difficult to disconnect during their time-off and rest hours with an index of 47%, while the average for the institution is 54%, 7 points lower.
Conclusion, Facta non verba : R&D calls on Commissioner Hahn
Commissioner Hahn advocates the culture of trust which we strongly support and which he rightly puts at the heart of the new HR strategy.
As the Commissioner responsible for Human Resources in our institution, it is also his responsibility to ensure that his words are backed up by deeds and to ensure that DG NEAR’s organisation chart ceases without delay to be an organisation chart … “doing the job”.