As much as I would like to jump on the “sequester bandwagon” and write yet another article about the impact this enormous change will have on our country, I’m going to take a different approach on the topic that is monopolizing water cooler discussions these days. I, like the rest of us, have been reading articles, listening to news reports, and paying attention to other’s viewpoints on what the sequester means to them, their interpretations on how we got to this point, and the personal connections they have to specific individuals that will be heavily influenced by this modification. But let’s take a look at the overall leadership that has, for the most part, guided this nation to be where it’s at today.
Most of us are familiar with The Best Places to Work report published by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte. The report is a survey that includes information on how federal employees feel about their workplace and their individual roles with regard to issues such as leadership, training and development, pay, and teamwork. The object of the survey is to alert leaders to areas that are falling short of employee’s expectations and satisfaction. According to the 2012 report, there are three key factors that are the driving influencers among federal staff. These factors include; effective leadership, agency mission and employee skill match, and satisfaction with pay. All three of these factors are significant, but let me call out that for the seventh time in a row, effective leadership has been the principal component that is said to drive employee satisfaction and commitment to their jobs in the federal workplace. The category that evaluates how much leadership at all levels of the organization “generates motivation and commitment, encourages integrity and manages people fairly, while also promoting the professional development, creativity and empowerment of employees,” is the lowest-rated category in the report.
There is no doubt that if this sequester happens, it will have an additional impact on already strained learning and development training budgets. Although this may resolve immediate budget issues, it will only cause far more intense repercussions in the long run. We are already seeing employees leave their public sector jobs in droves. We can’t continue to put a bandage on a much larger wound. A seven-year decline in how our nation’s leaders are performing is a significant indication that improvements are imperative.
Perhaps we need more servant leaders in the federal government, leaders that know their role is to help people achieve their goals. Servant leaders try to determine what their people need to perform well and live according to the agency’s vision and mission. Their goals are focused on the greater good and focuses on two major components of leadership-vision and implementation. Take three minutes and watch this video titled, It’s Always the Leader. In it, Ken Blanchard talks about a trip he took to the DMV and was pleasantly surprised by his experience with the facility’s leadership.
I can only imagine what federal public servants are feeling in this tumultuous time. Want a place to vent? Send in a video of how you’re doing even more with less in your role. Or, if you’re happy with the leadership at your agency (Congrats, NASA!), send us a video about how your leader motivates and inspires you to put your best food forward.
I have an advantage. I reach hundreds of people every week as a writer of this blog. I write about leadership, motivation, communication, work passion, and the latest topic going on in the US Government. This week I would like to do something a bit different. I am not going to write about the vision and mission every agency or team could adopt to help them achieve their mission (although I firmly believe in having both). I do not want to share tactics you can choose to implement in order to be a trustworthy leader (although I firmly believe in the positive impact of an effective leader). Today I hope the message you get from this blog post is geared toward the kindness and empathy we give to each other on a daily basis, both in and out of the work place.
I have shared some personal endeavors of my life with you in this blog; my current educational endeavor, individual encounters I have had with colleagues and clients, and other insights about my job. I have shared information about the leadership best practices of The Ken Blanchard Companies and I hope you have found these tidbits helpful. Today, I would like each visitor of this blog to share a random act of kindness they have completed and tell us how you felt afterwards. How did the act of kindness, no matter how big or small, set the tone for the rest of your day or week? After all, we ARE all leaders and when we share the love we have in our hearts with one another, that is the best form of leadership we can exhibit.
Happy holidays, Everyone! Enjoy this time. Share the love and kindness you possess with the rest of the world. Love and lead one another.
How many times have you heard the phrases, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” or “Don’t take yourself so seriously” in conversations about the workforce? These words of wisdom can be difficult to adopt when we are doing more with less, facing a fiscal cliff, unhappy with our pay, or (gasp!) working for an agency that received a not-so-great rating on the latest Best Places to Work survey.
The truth of the matter is that every organization faces turbulent times now and again. That is a reality and just a part of life. The key is how leaders in your agency are communicating with their employees and motivating each individual during downtimes. Leadership can be fun! Your job can be fun! Too often, we lose sight of that perspective. I recently came across this video that reminds us to remember how to have fun in our jobs and in our lives. Ken Blanchard is always telling us to put our right hand over our left shoulder and our left hand over our right shoulder and give ourselves a hug. So give yourself a hug. Give your colleague a hug. If that doesn’t help, watch the video below and I hope it reminds you to enjoy your job, be a Servant Leader, enjoy life, and have fun!
I work for a leadership organization. On a daily basis, I am surrounded by comments, articles, research, subject matter experts, blogs, and books on how to be a great leader. I believe in these wisdoms and the years of research that the experts walking the halls around here have uncovered. They are prudent truths to me and I try to adopt these best practices every day. A few months ago, I made the decision to go back to school and pursue a Master’s of Science in Leadership. As if I am not inundated with enough about leadership, I wanted to learn how “outsiders” interpret what a great leader looks like, the experiences they’ve had with the leaders in their lives, and how they plan to be the best leader they can be both in and out of the workplace.
This educational journey has been interesting and exciting. What I find most intriguing are the vastly different interpretations of what makes a great leader and the behavior great leaders demonstrate day in and day out. I recently conducted a poll on Facebook and GovLoop and asked people what they believe to be the top three traits of a great leader. The responses I received were so varied. Some of them include thoughtfulness, integrity, consistency, good listener, collaborator, honesty, action oriented, passionate, empathy, and trust. After reading all of the feedback, I started contemplating whether or not there really is a general list of the best leadership traits. Does a leadership model, that we can provide to every individual that wants to be a great leader, really exist? Or does every individual require their manager or supervisor to possess the specific leadership skills that will motivate, engage, and help guide them to success? What if you find your dream job but not your dream leader?
Two traits that over 50% of the responders included in the conducted poll as a must-have in every great leader are communication and listening skills. These skills are critical to every single relationship you will encounter in your life. Sharing information, facilitating conversation, and listening to each other fosters trust and motivates people to want to do something good and productive. What I realized is that if we do find our dream job minus the dream leader, we have the ability to “lead up” and communicate our needs to our leader in order to create a successful relationship. This does require us as individuals to have good communication skills ourselves. An effective way to build on these skills for both you and your manager is to hold regular one-on-one meetings that will allow the two of you to discuss each other’s needs that will lead to goal accomplishment. After all, what should be equally important to the both of you is the success of the organization.
How are you leading up? Are you able to openly communicate to your supervisor the needs you have in order to be successful in your agency?
Posted by Kristina Marzullo in Attitude, Buy-in, Change, Coaching, Collaboration, Commitment, Culture, Employee Engagement, Employee Passion, Engagement, Federal Agency, Goals, Government, Ken Blanchard, Leadership, Motivation, Performance, Productivity, The Ken Blanchard Companies, Trust, Vision on November 28, 2012
Fiscal cliff, political objections, merging agencies, and pay decrease discussions around the water cooler have many government employees concerned. Many of us are wondering what exactly 2013 is going to look like for ourselves and for our country. Now is the time for agency leaders to take action and encourage their teams.
Culture can be a powerful change agent. If you think about high performing agencies, most of them have a clear culture that is actually implemented within the organization. An agency’s culture generally dictates the values, vision, and missions. It is an indicator of how the agency gets things done on a daily basis. When leaders adhere to the culture when integrating change, it will support and encourage employee’s reaction to the change.
Can you explain your agency’s culture? Are your goals and the goals of your team members aligned with the organizations culture? If not, this could be a great discussion to have in your next one-on-one meeting with your employees. Employees that know their performance and success is contributing to the success of the organization are more motivated, confident, and passionate about what they do.
Involving your employees with the agency’s mission can lead to confident, engaged, and high performing individuals. Studies reveal that the more employees are involved in the decisions of a change that will impact them, the more committed they are to the agency. In turn, the more committed they are, the better their performance. The better their performance, the more effective the agency will be at accomplishing their mission.
Would you be more accepting of a decision that was made by others and dictated to you or would you rather have an opportunity to provide your contribution and feedback to that decision? An effective way to implement any change is to allow those who have to endure the change to be involved in the change process.
Our immediate reaction to change tends to be objection. This is where leaders can really use their skills and influence a direct report’s perception of the impending change. An employee’s supervisor is the first line of defense against a closed-minded approach to change. Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings, building trust, and providing the tools the employee needs to successfully overcome the negative mind-set that can occur during change can be the difference in an employee staying with the agency versus leaving for another job.
Do you have a strategy to resolve people’s concern and negative mind-set on change? Ken Blanchard, author and co-founder of The Ken Blanchard Companies, reveals that “none of us is as smart as all of us.” Shifting your employee’s outlook can often lead to a change of heart and commitment to the agency.
Want to hear more about how you can motivate yourself and your employees? Join Dr. David Facer, author of Optimal Motivation, today at 12:00pm EST today as he shares a fresh approach to motivation that can increase employee engagement, productivity, and employee well-being. Now who doesn’t want that during these hard times?
Join Ken Blanchard during your lunch hour as he shares 4 secrets that government leaders can use to take their team to the next level.
November 1, 2012 – 12:00pm EST
Leading in the public sector can be a difficult challenge. Budget restrictions, changing political mandates, varying commitment levels and inadequate training create obstacles for even the most experienced leaders.
In this webinar, best-selling author Ken Blanchard (Great Leaders GROW and The One Minute Manager) will share the four leadership secrets that shift attitudes and break down artificial barriers between colleagues to transform an agency’s culture.
You will learn:
- How to build a compelling vision for your agency and the importance of having a plan to implement that vision
- How to take care of your people—including strategies for involving and empowering others to act
- Developing a servant-leader mindset—and when to turn the organization chart upside-down to achieve the agency’s mission
- Why leadership skills should continuously be developed—even at the SES level
Don’t miss this opportunity to spend a life-changing hour with one of America’s top leadership experts. Learn how to develop and encourage leadership skills that create a healthy and productive work environment.
At a recent conference in Richmond, VA, I had a chance to conduct a workshop with 160 Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. It was part of a week-long National Conference of State Legislatures. The topic for the morning session was Creating an Engaging Work Environment. In an exercise during the session, I asked participants to remember a time when they were the most engaged in their work environments.
Participants thought back over their past and present experiences and shared with each other some of the factors that created such an engaging environment. Factors such as meaningful work, growth opportunities, collaborative work environment, trusting and caring relationships were all mentioned.
Next we looked specifically at their present roles and work environments. Using a six point scale they evaluated their current work environment on 12 different factors that Blanchard research has identified as contributing to individual engagement and passion.
While their scores averaged a “4” on the 6-point scale, there were also “2s” and “6s” included in that average. This is true anytime you bring a group of people together—there is always a wide variation of scores that an average often conceals. While an organization may score a “4” overall, the reality is that the average represents some low scores as well as pockets of excellence.
So what does a smart leader do? Actively seek out both groups for more information.
You want to identify low scores early on so you can address them. You also want to identify pockets of excellence so that you can learn from them. In our work with clients, one of the biggest ways we help is by identifying these high performing pockets so that best practices can be shared with others.
4 steps to identifying your pockets of excellence
How’s your organization doing when it comes to measuring overall engagement levels? Do you know where your pockets of excellence are operating? If not, here’s a 4-step process to get you started.
- Conduct an employee engagement survey across your entire organization. Be sure to capture responses from as many different functions, sub-units, and teams as possible. Survey widely.
- Review responses and look for patterns at the team, functional, or location level. Identify your individual pockets of disengagement and pockets of excellence.
- Conduct follow-up interviews—especially with your pockets of excellence. Your goal is to find out what is contributing to high ratings. What managerial practices or environmental factors are contributing to positive employee perceptions?
- Share best practices broadly across other units. Share the practical strategies that you discover from individual teams and units with others in the organization.
Too often we think that the answer is “out there” somewhere. The best ideas are usually closer to home. Be sure that you are looking for them!