Archive for category Accountability
Who should be held accountable for employee engagement in the federal workspace? Many different arguments and perspectives surface when this question is posed. Recently, the White House, the GAO, Cabinet leaders, the SES community, and direct managers have all been mentioned.
But in some ways, it is a misleading question. Engagement is addressed best when there is a collaborative accountability. Collaborative, or joint, accountability ensures that resources necessary to support engagement initiatives are planned for and allocated, targets are set, and managers are provided with refresher and advanced skills training needed to manage and lead daily activities.
While it might be a radical paradigm shift with respect to the current situation, it would make perfect sense to design and deploy a check and balance system of accountability. Such an approach would be consistent with the principles of government that hold the three branches of government accountable to one another. In the instance of engagement, this check and balance system should ensure that frontline managers to SES staff are held accountable only if budget authorizations are approved in a timely manner, and that such budgets make provisions for training leaders in improving employee engagement on a continuous basis.
Assuming that the budget authorization and allocation process provides for the necessary tools and techniques to appropriately and adequately lead and manage engagement efforts, there must be some consequence associated with not driving and achieving higher levels of engagement.
That seems to be where the current conversation is headed. However, in a joint accountability scenario the following would need to be in place:
Set a Baseline: With the introduction of consequences, a baseline must be established that would represent a starting point upon which improvement must be made. A timeframe would also need to be set. In our experience at The Ken Blanchard Companies, a two-year cycle would be an equitable timeframe that would give managers an opportunity to influence engagement outcomes.
Provide Training: A proven skill-building program that provides insights into key drivers of engagement can help focus the application of tools and techniques. This would allow agency managers to concentrate on specific interventions proven to influence engagement scores. The idea here is something new that goes beyond the standard satisfaction survey approach of the past. Knowing where employees draw their energy and passion from and how to address it is essential to focusing time and energy.
Measure Results: When we reference consequence, there has to be a tangible byproduct. One that has certainly captured a lot of attention recently has been indexing agency leader compensation to engagement scores. However, in the spirit of the two-year cycle (or window) for improvement, only the second year of the cycle would connect pay to engagement outcomes. This will provide the time to work through the responsibility, motivation, and attention all parties need to explore resources, budget, execution, and outcomes.
In working with organizations large and small in the government and private sectors, The Ken Blanchard Companies has found that a collaborative effort, where strategic and operational leaders work together, generates the best results. Employee engagement is a big issue. Plans, alone, won’t fix it. Accountability, alone, won’t fix it. Only collaborative efforts will generate the long-term, sustainable results that everyone is looking for.
Have you ever struggled with accomplishing, getting through, or getting started on something that you wanted to do? Many of us do. Often times we come up with an idea that we’re passionate about or that we know we can do but are hesitant to actually go through with it for fear we may fail or not have the drive or motivation to see it through.
In Ken Blanchard’s latest book, Fit at Last, Ken and fitness authority, Tim Kearin, follow Ken’s personal journey to improve his health and fitness. This quick read applies the battle with getting healthy and losing weight, something many of us can relate to, as an example of how sticking to a goal and making it happen can provide a sense of accomplishment, satisfaction, and happiness. Whether your goal is to get healthy, like Ken, start a business, or complete a major project at work, these six principles can keep you grounded as you tackle your goal.
Principle 1: Have Compelling Reasons and a Purpose
Figuring out what motivates you to make something a goal in the first place is the first principle that will set the stage to accomplishing your goal. Why do you want to do this? How will the outcome make you feel? What are the benefits that you will realize after this goal is met? If the goal is work related, find out whether or not your goal is aligned with your agency’s goals.
Principle 2: Establish a Mutual Commitment to Success
It’s tough to go it alone on any goal or task. Find someone who you care about, wants to see you succeed, and who can keep you motivated and remind you of why you started on this path in the first place. It is also important that you trust this person and value the feedback and support they can provide to you. Setting a mutual agreement that benefits both parties involved is a great way to not only hold you to your commitment, it also makes you want to accomplish your goal to reap the rewards once you reach your target.
Principle 3: Learn About Situational Leadership® II
Situational Leadership II (SLII) is a model that employs one common language and process for growing great leaders. It is a program that teaches leaders to analyze, diagnose, think, and apply leadership concepts effectively to reach their goals. SLII guides individuals at each developmental level, both business and personal, they encounter in every situation. When you have a clear understanding of your goal, your level of development, and the right leadership or support that helps you accomplish your objective, you increase your commitment, motivation, and productivity toward that task.
Principle 4: Develop Appropriate Goals
Jumping in and tackling a goal without carefully planning out your strategy can lead to burn-out and failure. Take the time to assess the goal and set some action items that will outline how you can accomplish each task. Making your goals SMART can also help you monitor your progress along the way. Evaluate where you are at certain points so you can have a clear vision of how you are progressing in your goal.
Principle 5: Set up a Support System to Hold You Accountable
It’s inevitable that you’ll struggle at some point on your quest to accomplish your goal. When this occurs, it’s important to have a support system to keep you on track toward success. Whether it be a spouse, friend, or coworker at your agency, establish regular check-ins with this person or group to report on your progress. Again, trust is important here since you need to value the feedback that you receive from your support group in order to actually apply it.
Principle 6: Have Measurable Milestones to Stay Motivated
Anyone can become disengaged if they feel that they are not making progress on a goal or task. Setting specific milestones, big or small, will remind you of each success and how far you’ve come. Setting mini rewards along the way is another way to make your journey fun. Rewarding yourself suddenly turns your hard work into something that doesn’t even feel like work at all.
What other strategies do you use to stick to your goals and commit to your commitments?
As we begin to wrap up 2013, many of us are starting to think about resolutions for the New Year and what we can do differently in 2014. The common resolutions like going to the gym more often, losing 20 pounds, or the like tend to lose their luster before the end of January. Why not take a different approach to your New Year’s resolutions and make it a goal to be a better leader? People follow and support leaders they believe in and create positive influences in their lives. A Gallup poll found that only 1 in 11 (9%) employees are engaged when led by a leader that neglects to focus on individual’s strengths. Yet when a leader acknowledges an individual’s strengths, that statistic jumps to 3 in 4 (73%) employees.
While we can’t necessarily control the budget cuts or whether there will be another round of furloughs next year, we can absolutely control the type of leader we choose to be and the reputation we build as we lead others to greatness.
Here are a few traits you can add to your resolution list in your quest to becoming a more well-rounded leader.
1. Allow for autonomy – Empowering your staff to make decisions is key to creating a motivated and productive staff. Employees need to be allowed to make mistakes as well as have the support and guidance from their manager when flubs do happen. A Situational Leader knows when to provide support and allow individuals to grow into great leaders, while a self-serving leader only has their best interest in mind. Coach your direct reports to come up with a winning strategy and work with them on defining that strategy rather than dictating their next move.
2. Build trust with everyone – This is a tough one as trust among many government employees has been tested with the recent sequester, shutdown, pay freezes, and furloughs mandated government wide. But all hope is not lost. The individual encounters you as a leader have, not just with your staff but with everyone you come across at the office, help to build, or in some cases rebuild, trust. Trust is the crux of everything we do and is the foundation of effective leadership. Without it dedication, loyalty, motivation, willingness to support the agency’s mission falters. The ABCD Trust Model that promotes a leader’s Ability, Believability, Connectedness, and Dependability is a good place to start to evaluate how trustworthy you are within your agency.
3. Create a culture that people want to be a part of – I recently watched a news segment about Zappos, the online shoe retailer, and was impressed with the culture they’ve created at the organization. The CEO of Zappos, Tony Hsieh, was proud to say that the first requirement they take into consideration when hiring for a position at the company is whether or not the candidate would be a good culture fit. In fact, they label the coveted culture they’ve built as their biggest asset. Take a look at this 30 second video the folks at Zappos created to give you an insight to their fun, yet productive, culture.
4. Acknowledge even the smallest successes – It’s an important motivator and morale booster when you catch people doing things right. People like their accomplishments to be acknowledged and to know they are truly appreciated for the hard they do day in and day out. The number one criteria, however, is to MAKE IT MEANINGFUL. There’s no point in praising someone for a task they’ve accomplished if there’s no substance behind it. Be authentic with your praisings.
5. Thank your employees – It’s amazing the impact a smile and a thank you can have. Government workers are dedicated and work hard, despite the continuous ups-and-downs they’ve endured lately. Showing your employees some gratitude for that dedication, loyalty, and unrelenting productivity makes a difference. Follow your action from item #4 above with a thank you and watch your employee’s motivation and satisfaction soar.
What steps are you taking to become a more motivating government leader?
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?
Do you have more trust in your local corner store owner than you do in the Federal Government? Would you have more confidence in the ability of private businesses solving national problems in our country? The 2012 Public Affairs Pulse survey, released yesterday by the nonpartisan Public Affairs Council and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that to be true among the majority of Americans. The state of our nation has given the American people cause for concern. When will we see positive strides in the economy? Whose responsibility is it to boost the unemployment rate? Will our next president make the changes the public is demanding?
Sixty-seven percent of Americans have a favorable view of major companies versus forty-one percent having a favorable view of the federal government. In fact, more folks agree that private businesses should take on solving many of the national problems facing this great country, rather than have the government continue to try to resolve them.
- 72% say private organizations should provide community services such as food banks, free clinics and job training for the poor.
- 68% believe that businesses should take on more responsibility for improving the quality and affordability of health care.
- 66% feel that improving the quality of education is in better hands of private organizations than the governments.
- 62% think that businesses would have more of an impact on relief efforts such as floods, tornadoes and earthquakes.
Although the findings from this survey have increased slightly from last year on issues like the economy and regulation, the overall favorability of our government is still not very positive.
How can we improve American’s opinion of our government? Could private businesses make more headway in solving some of our country’s problems? Is it our nation’s leaders that should bear the brunt of this crisis? According to Jack Bowsher, author of Educating Votes for Rebuilding America, the answer is yes. Bowsher says, “all the problems facing our country resulted from decisions made by political leaders in past administrations.” However, all hope is not lost. Jack also believes that these bad decisions can be turned around by political leaders that will step-up in the future. Exactly how that will happen is yet to be seen, according to the American people.
Change is inevitable. Change is good. Change is bad. Change is coming. I don’t like change. Whatever your viewpoint is about change, it’s a reality of life. Change happens in our professional lives, in our personal lives, when we’re children, and when we’re adults. It surrounds us. The key is how you as an individual react to change. A reader recently sent me a story about the bald eagle’s 150 days of “rebirth” that allows the bird to have an additional thirty years of life. Well, it turns out that the story is an urban legend but the message got me thinking about our ability to endure change in our lives and the “lows” we discipline ourselves through in order to come out on the other side a better, more fulfilled person.
Probably the biggest implementor of change is the Federal Government with issues ranging from voting for a new leader in the latest election to censorship on internet search engines. OPM Director, John Berry recently delivered the commencement speech at the University of Maryland. His comments were rather inspiring. He discussed the changes that have incurred in government over the past 30 years touching base on how public officials, both Republican and Democrat used to work together to get things done and how “thinking through solutions and arriving at compromises that make the best sense for our country” was what inspired federal leaders. If you haven’t listened to his comments on YouTube or read the entire speech, I highly encourage you to do so.
So how do we make change a positive success in our lives rather than a daunting task? In the book, Who Killed Change, co-authors share 13 foundations that can support your change effort.
- Culture – defines the predominant attitudes, beliefs and behavior patterns that characterize the organization
- Commitment – builds a person’s motivation and confidence to engage in the new behaviors required by the change
- Sponsorship – a senior leader who has the formal authority to deploy resources toward the initiation, implementation and sustainability of the change; ultimately responsible for the success of the change
- Change Leadership Team – actively leads the change into the organization by speaking with one voice and resolving the concerns of those being asked to change
- Communication – creates opportunities for dialogue with change leaders and those being asked to change
- Urgency – explains why the change is needed and how quickly people must change the way they work
- Vision – paints a clear and compelling picture of the future after change has been integrated
- Plan – clarifies the priority of the change relative to other initiatives and responsibilities; works with those being asked to change to develop a detailed and realistic implementation plan, then to define and build the infrastructure needed to support the change
- Budget – analyzes proposed changes from a financial perspective to determine how best to allocate limited resources and ensure a healthy return on investment
- Trainer – provides learning experiences to ensure those being asked to change have the skills needed to follow through with the change and succeed in the future organization
- Incentive – recognizes and/or rewards people to reinforce desired behaviors and results that enable change
- Performance management – sets goals and expectations regarding behaviors and results that enable change, tracks progress toward the goals and expectations, provides feedback and training and formally documents actual results versus desired results
- Accountability – follows through with people to ensure their behaviors and results are in line with agreed upon goals and expectations and that leaders are walking the talk, and institutes consequences when behaviors or results are inconsistent with those that enable change
There you have it, 13 reinforcements that you can work on this summer to make some changes for the better.
What changes, if any, do you plan on making in the next 150 days?