Filling the gap between today’s talent and tomorrow’s leaders

Succession PuzzleLike it or not, leadership will turn over as a function of retirement or resignation.

In fact, according to OPM data, from 2011 to 2013 total federal government retirements increased by 40 percent.

As today’s GS 7, 8 and 9s move toward 10, 11 and 12s and beyond, there must be an identification of the talent pipeline—those high potential individuals with the skills, capabilities, and desire to take on more responsibility.

A talent pipeline is essential because:

  • A feeder pool to GS 10 through SES positions needs to be established to determine the set of people to develop. With constraints of time and budget, investments must be made in an actionable set of individuals.
  • Once the pipeline is identified, there is retentive value in sharing that one is included in the planning of future leadership roles. Of course, there are no guarantees; however, when aware of future potential and the investment in development, there is a greater likelihood of retention with the government and enhanced engagement.
  • Further, the pipeline should and can be stratified to understand where critical talent exists. Critical talent consists of those individuals who can perform and contribute in more than one way. For example, critical talent should be able to work across multiple agencies and in a variety of roles or functions. Their value and contributions represent horizontal possibilities rather than vertical limitations.

How to invest in future leaders?

  • Identification: Chief human capital officers would organize a government-wide effort to establish criteria for high potential candidates. With the identification of common criteria, a framework for evaluation would be developed by chief learning officers. The evaluation framework would consist of common tools, processes, and templates to evaluate, nominate, and build an inventory of candidates to consider. The final selection of pipeline candidates would occur in a discussion among senior agency leadership (a small group who ensures confidentiality and maximum opportunity for healthy debate). The final product would be a targeted and manageable list of individuals that would become part of a high potential watch list. This exercise would be repeated once every two years to ensure the vitality of the process and identify additional future leaders. It would be critical to conduct a semi-annual review of progress.
  • Development: Given the 70/20/10 approach to development, several low cost, highly effective techniques are available for investing in the development of high potential talent. For instance, experiential development can consist of job rotations: challenging assignments monitored by a mentor and assigned reading with follow-up discussion groups. Moreover, in the spirit of public service, participation with and contributions to community and civic organizations can focus on and improve teamwork and presentation skills. In addition, we should not forget about the core, basic, and critical leadership skills that can only be acquired in the classroom. It is critical for high potential future leaders to learn and work with a common leadership language. Because these individuals will likely rotate throughout government, they should use a common leadership language and framework to ensure consistency among agencies. It is also helpful to refer and relate back to a common framework when these future leaders meet as a group to discuss the current and future state of the government.
  • Self Awareness: Any development needs to be accompanied by a focus on self awareness. Self awareness is of utmost importance for future leaders—it is the critical ingredient to ensuring blind spots are identified and avoided. In this context, blind spots result in a lack of appreciation for conflict, organization distraction, the political process, and ineffective communication. For instance, 360-degree feedback is an excellent tool to help individuals improve their awareness of how others perceive and react to them.

Opportunity Cost 

Of course, talent pipelines and succession planning take time and some level of investment. It is always easy to ignore this initiative given lack of time, budget constraints, or time away from the job. The question is not: Should we engage in identifying and developing our future leaders? The question is: What happens if we avoid this critical step toward continuing our progress as a leader among nations?

 

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Millennials: The Future is …

Knowledge Level ConceptYoung, bright, capable, eager—these words describe many people, but especially individuals with about ten years of government service, aged in the low to mid 30s and likely in a GS 11-13 role. Management and leadership development theorists would identify this group as Millennials.

While this group of future leaders is especially well prepared academically, this does not necessarily ensure readiness to lead others in the mission of public service. Skills such as motivating others, addressing conflict, developing teams, building trust, providing extraordinary service, anticipating policy changes, and assigning tasks are typically not included in undergraduate or graduate degree programs.

Are your leaders ready?  

Agencies considering the development of future leaders need to begin with an assessment of competencies that will be required to lead the government over the next five years. This process is not costly; however, the cost of not doing this type of assessment can be detrimental to preparing the next generation of leaders.

Once identified, core skills must be taught, reviewed, reinforced, and mastered. For example:

  • Delegation – Multiplying oneself by successfully assigning projects to others in a way that creates commitment, ownership, accountability, and engagement.
  • Motivation – Learning various methods for motivating others to maintain energy for and commitment to the mission.
  • Conflict – Knowing how to spot and address conflict to ensure continued focus on necessary outcomes.
  • Measurement – Developing performance metrics to measure output and productivity.
  • Management – Providing encouragement for assignment completion and taking corrective action when the assignment is not on the proper path.

It’s necessary to be mindful that leadership is by definition a dynamic topic. In this context, leadership is situational and future leaders must learn to evaluate the readiness of their teams to engage in tasks and be ready for change. Specifically, a leadership technique that works for one situation cannot necessarily be applied to the next, even if the circumstances appear to be similar. The situational nature of leadership requires a commitment to continuous learning and practice.

Making the Transition 

The development of leadership capacity is more important than ever given the dynamic, fast-paced, and unpredictable world we live in.

While ambition, desire, and commitment are necessary ingredients for evolving leadership responsibilities; a range of topics needs to be addressed, learned, and applied. If we are mindful of this, our future will be bright and led by a group of well developed and ready individuals.

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Time for Action!

Time For ActionThe results of the latest Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) remind us it will take a concerted effort to slow down and reverse the decline in engagement scores across the federal workforce.  After four years of declining scores, it’s time for a comprehensive human capital strategy for the largest workforce in the world.

For agency leaders—including chief human capital officers and chief learning officers—The Ken Blanchard Companies has just released a breakthrough pricing opportunity for federal agencies to elevate leadership capacity and address workforce disengagement and dissatisfaction.

Leverages Government Purchasing Power

Blanchard’s Core Solutions License Package allows all agencies to meet their missions with greater flexibility and effectiveness by offering a tiered-pricing model based on headcount. The package enables agencies to leverage combined government-buying power and have greater access to training solutions at the individual, team and executive levels than ever before. The train-the-trainer qualification process quickly moves agencies to self-reliance, an important ingredient to reducing dependency on outside consulting fees.

The annual licensing solution allows agencies to implement a proven, affordable, award winning end-to-end Leadership Development Maturity curriculum, resulting in more than $1 billion in savings if adopted government-wide.

Applying a value-based, people-centric tool that is comprehensive at all levels gives agencies the ability to realize a common passion and accountability throughout an organization. As accessibility to training is a primary success factor for many government organizations, Blanchard’s solutions package grants agencies a transformative approach to motivate and evolve the nation’s most critical workforce.

Enhanced Return on Investment Where It Is Needed Most

As Paul Wilson, Blanchard’s vice president of federal solutions identifies, “These solutions allow for unprecedented savings and training advancements to make a tangible, substantial impact and enhanced return on investment where it’s needed most – our federal workforce.”

You can learn more about Blanchard’s approach to a comprehensive human capital strategy via this press release. To view Blanchard’s full suite of solutions, visit www.kenblanchard.com/licensing-package-for-gov

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The Largest Workforce on the Planet

Business People Silhouettes With North American Flag Speech BubbDoesn’t it seem odd that when industry, Wall Street, and academia consider and explore human capital strategy and best practices, United States government workforce practices are usually not cited as a standard to emulate? It’s even more peculiar when you  consider that our federal government is the world’s largest workforce with three million individuals on the payroll, providing services and products on a scale parallel to some of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world.

The results of the 2014 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) point to several opportunities and challenges in the government workforce. For example:

  1. Only 62 percent of federal workforce respondents indicated they would recommend their organization as a good place to work—down from 69 percent in 2011.
  2. Just 38 percent of respondents believe survey results will be used to make the agency a better place to work. This trend has steadily dropped from 45 to 38 percent over the past four survey cycles (2011-2014).
  3. A mere 38 percent of the respondents believe that senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce.
  4. From an information sharing and recognition perspective, only 46 percent of the respondents are satisfied with information provided by management and just 45 percent are satisfied with the recognition that is received for doing a good job.
  5. Overall, only 50 percent of the respondents have a high level of respect for their senior leaders.

Although these trends are not necessarily unique from a human capital strategy perspective, it makes you wonder what it will take to help the world’s largest workforce begin to move the needle on human capital management. The good news is that an increase in taxes is not necessary. Instead, the manner in which strategy is designed and deployed needs to be developed across agencies in order to:

  • effectively support teams of employees from the front lines —give them a voice;
  • reduce overlap and leverage buying power; and
  • utilize experts who can accelerate the development of practice and policy by drawing from practical and proven experience.

My last post argued that there is not a difference between private and public sector leadership capabilities and corresponding organization outcomes. In the context of developing and leading the world’s largest workforce, there is much to be gained by an open and thoughtful exchange between private and public sector human capital strategy executives. In my next post, I’ll begin to explore those strategies.

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Public vs. Private Sector: The Big Five Elements of Effective Leadership and The Five Corresponding Outcomes

QuestionIs there a difference between private and public sector leadership development and practices? This is a timely question given the recent turbulence of global financial markets. The short answer is that leaders in both sectors, no matter the organization or agency, need to be sensitive to how they set the stage for success. In fact, it is leadership that drives organizations and agencies through change—whether the change is planned for or in response to market conditions.

There are five interconnected and common elements of effective leaders in both the public and private sector:

  1. Promoting open communication
  2. Supporting individuals
  3. Allocating resources
  4. Removing obstacles
  5. Sponsoring innovation

These elements must be embedded in the culture of an organization or agency to ensure successful fulfillment of the mission. Today’s operating environment is complex: the rapid rate of change, the instant availability of data, the pace of product innovation, and the global connectedness of people all require organizations and agencies to ensure the development of leaders. This development can range from identification of who has the potential to be a leader to refresher training, and is even more critical for those who are making the leap from individual contributor to first-time leader or from manager of a project to leader of people.

When an organization or agency addresses the five core leadership elements, there is a greater chance that:

  1. Ideas will flow from those who are on point for delivering to end users—customers in the private sector and constituents in the public sector.
  2. Employees will operate with enhanced passion, leading to an improvement in discretionary effort and a commitment to the organization’s or agency’s purpose.
  3. The right resources will be allocated to the places of highest impact with the least amount of cost. Employees will be better equipped to fulfill both their own and their organization’s or agency’s mission.
  4. Barriers to success will be removed, thus changing and improving processes so that information flows better, measures are in place that support key indicators, and gap closure is a reality.
  5. Because of rapid change and a constant stream of unpredictable events, an idea factory will be created that will support the need for continuous and necessary innovation and change.

When leadership capacity and development are not a part of standard work, there is a far greater risk of atrophy. In other words, leadership is fundamental to creating a strong and vibrant organization or agency just as daily diet and exercise is fundamental to sustaining healthy living and reducing medical costs.

In the end, there is no difference between the private and public sectors when it comes to the five core leadership capabilities and the five corresponding outcomes.

The Ken Blanchard Companies can help organizations and agencies build high performing leadership and change roadmaps to improve operational efficiency and mission effectiveness. Future blogs will address how to measure leadership development.

To learn more about the Blanchard approach, download Building the Capabilities to Lead Agile, People-Centered Companies in the 21st Century.  You can also check out other free resources and white papers in the research section of the Blanchard website.

 

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Moving the Employee Engagement Needle

Engage Button On Computer Pc Keyboard KeyEngaged workers use three less sick days each year than their disengaged counterparts.  In a workforce the size of the federal government, this difference translates to a loss of nearly 19,000 work years annually. That’s one of the startling statistics Paul Wilson, VP of Federal Solutions at The Ken Blanchard Companies, shared at a recent government executive briefing looking at moving the engagement needle.  Pointing to the results of recent Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys, Wilson identified that an effective employee engagement framework is critical now more than ever.

Part of that framework involves identifying the work factors and understanding the evaluation process workers use in deciding whether a particular work environment is deserving of effort above and beyond basic job requirements.  It is a state of mind that Wilson describes as employee work passion which goes beyond satisfaction, or even engagement at work.

Wilson was joined at the briefing by Dr. Drea Zigarmi, a founding associate and Director of Research at The Ken Blanchard Companies.  Zigarmi shared details on Blanchard’s research into employee work passion including the 12 environmental factors that—when perceived to be present to a high degree in the work environment—result in employees who intend to

  • Perform at a higher level
  • Put in extra effort as needed
  • Act as good corporate citizens
  • Stay with the organization longer
  • Recommend the organization to others

Zigarmi shared how an assessment of employees’ perceptions allows leaders to focus in on the issues that translate into intentions and behaviors moving in the right direction.

At the operational level, managers can begin to think about the four Job Factors and start to explore the degree to which their direct reports feel their needs are being met in each area. Once identified, managers can look at ways to set up the conditions that are more favorable for each factor.

At a strategic level, senior executives can begin looking at ways to shape the organization’s systems, policies, and procedures to address the four Organizational Factors. The scores on the four Relationship Factors will allow leaders at all levels to understand how to improve the connections between people in the organization. The goal is to create a pull-type organization and a workplace environment that invites people to choose to be their best.

With a solid grounding in the latest behavioral science research, the Blanchard approach offers leaders a way to thoroughly understand what is happening in the work environment and how to improve it. By taking a more in-depth look at employee perceptions, their own leader behaviors, and the subsequent impact on intentions and performance, leaders now have a tool that allows them to move the needle and bring out the best in their people.

To learn more about the Blanchard approach and the 12 work environment factors measured, download a four-page overview, The Employee Work Passion Assessment: Moving Beyond Satisfaction.  You can also check out other free Blanchard resources and white papers at the research section of their website.

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Overachievers Anonymous and the 80/20 Rule

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My name is Amber and I am an overachiever and a perfectionist at heart… I often hold myself to an unachievable standard, something I have worked hard to stop doing over the years. For a long time I knew this was my worst habit, but did not know how to give myself permission to let some things go. I often found myself overcommitted, overwhelmed and burnt out.

People who push themselves too hard and expect too much are setting their own path to failure. Whether you are paralyzed with fear of failure, fear of missing out, or over commit and cheat yourself out of leisure time, those overly ambitious expectations can lead to disappointment.

Years ago, a few colleagues and I formed what we jokingly called Overachievers Anonymous. We would catch each other in the halls and take a minute to chat and laugh about whatever was the latest example of our reach for perfectionism. It was the first time I got real feedback about my unrealistic expectations. It was helpful because it was a safe way to recognize challenges, attempt to make adjustments, and laugh through it instead of being frustrated.

More than anything the 80/20 Rule has helped me move forward. This is the idea that 80 percent of what is accomplished is completed with 20 percent of effort. It reminds us that if we prioritize and set goals, we will be able to accomplish the most important things, and often have time left over to do the little things too.

For overachievers, is important to recognize that others may not hold themselves to your standards. Nor do they hold you to those standards. We do that on our own. Here are some basic tips I used to determine what is important and should be my focus:

  1. Identify the important things – For yourself and your team, you need to know how you define success in career, family, even health.
  2. Set achievable SMART goals – Remember to apply the 80/20 Rule. Don’t assume your team know and remember their goals, talk about them often. You can find out about SMART Goals here.
  3. Get some perspective – Ask someone you trust to point out when you are being too hard on yourself and your team.
  4. Schedule breaks in your day and your year – It is important to have some real down time to recharge. I mean, the get-out-in-nature, meditate, travel, or whatever feeds your soul type of break. Schedule a walk into your day, set a regular lunch with a friend, and go on vacation! You really will be better off in the long run.

With practice I’ve learned to relax, stay focused, and to live without perfection. I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I even let go a little too much. But life is about learning and it gets easier with practice.

What helps you remember to focus on the truly important? How do you keep your own bad habits from getting in your way?

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