Stand By Your Agency

I just read an interesting discussion string on GovLoop about government employees’ thoughts about what their agency can do to help offset the pay freeze.  Last month, Obama announced a freeze on pay increases for the next two years.  This pay freeze will apply to all civilian workers including Defense Department employees, excluding military personnel.  The topic spurred some excellent responses about the pay freeze.  A few suggestions that were made include telework, tuition reimbursement, flexible work schedules, and permitting federal employees to work a second job to bring in extra income.

Praising is the most powerful activity a manager can do.

An event such as this is never easy on employees whether it is in the public or private sector.   However, after living through a pay cut and pay freeze at my own company, I now understand and appreciate why adjustments in pay must take place from time to time.  Don’t get me wrong, I was not very understanding from the get-go.  My thoughts and feelings solely revolved around myself and how I was going to cope with the looming pay cut.  It was when executives in the company opened up and shared with us truly why the changes needed to take place that I had a change of heart and stood behind the decision.  It didn’t come without some adjustments in my budget but I figured it out and made it work.

A decrease in morale usually comes along with a decrease in pay. Agencies can help maintain and boost morale by offering other incentives that don’t hit the budget.  Alan Weiss, president of Summit Consulting Group, Inc., rewards his employees’ efforts as well as their successes. “Even if their ideas sometimes fail, you want employees to keep producing them,” says Weiss.  “When I consulted with the CEO of Calgon, we created an annual award for ‘the best idea that didn’t work’ and presented a loving cup at the annual awards dinner.  This stimulated innovation as positive behavior, not ‘winning.’”

Although compensation is very important to most people, surprisingly money is not always the biggest motivator.  In fact, research from Daniel Pink as well as employee passion research from The Ken Blanchard Companies shows that intrinsic motivation is actually more important than compensation.  Why people want to do a good job, why they chose their line of work, how they feel connected to a greater purpose – these are all part of what defines intrinsic motivation for people.  

To help tap into the intrinsic motivation of people, stay connected and know what’s in their hearts and minds.  Make sure they know that you see them doing a good job.  That is the message in the book, The One Minute Manager, written by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson.  Blanchard believes that if you catch people doing something right and immediately praise or reward them for it, they will feel good about themselves and they will do even more things right.  This action will lead to people feeling good about the organization and the people they work with.  They will want to company to succeed because they know in turn, they will succeed.

What thoughts or ideas do you have on how management can boost and maintain morale during a pay freeze?

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