Presidential Management Fellows want more program guidance

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Presidential Management Fellows are mostly happy with their initial experiences but the program should address concerns about poor assignment placement and a lack of guidance, says the Partnership for Public Service.

In a survey (.pdf) dated Nov. 30, the non-profit says overall satisfaction in the program is on par with general satisfaction levels for new federal employees but improving the initial experience would boost the satisfaction level with the program over the long haul.

The study, which covered about 65 percent of the 420 fellows in the 2011 class, finds that PMFs like and respect their bosses, tend to have realistic expectations and have an enduring commitment to public service. Fellows who thought their first job assignment matched their skill level and helped them develop new skills, about 65 percent of those surveyed, rated the program higher than those who felt differently.

The initial assignment was the "single biggest factor in overall workplace satisfaction," says the study.

Motivation and expectation were high among the PMFs themselves, including 96 percent willing to take initiative in new projects, 81 percent believing they must prove themselves to get higher-level assignments and 69 percent being willing to take assignments outside of their agency.

The survey, conducted with the Office of Personnel Management, also pointed to some areas of improvement for the program. Around 43 percent of PMFs said their supervisors did not fully understand how the PMF program works and some 40 percent of respondents said they did not get the guidance they needed about the program from their agency coordinators. Fellows also tended to say that OPM should have provided its orientation earlier in the course of the program.

Fellows were also hoping for more mentorship from the PMF program, with 62 percent expecting an assigned mentor but only 43 percent of respondents getting one. "The substantial gap between expectations and what takes place appears to have been on the radar of PMF program administrators and will be addressed by a new Pathways Program requirement that all fellows in the PMF program receive mentoring going forward," the study said.

The class of 2011 is largely white, 79 percent, and female, 65 percent, with roughly 92 percent of the class being younger than 35 years old. Around 58 percent had prior federal work experience.

For more:
- download the survey results (.pdf)

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