Archive for category Direction

Building a 21st Century Government…One Leader at a Time

Federal Government MoraleWhen Obama’s budget plan for fiscal 2015 was released, the plan had its fair share of supporters and naysayers. There are obviously many sections to the plan, but there is one specific portion that addresses the challenge that a plethora of articles have been written about and many agencies are challenged with lately…leadership, and specifically leadership that could use a bit of an overhaul. Lately, there seems to be less and less agencies that are exempt from a lack of effective leadership. Even the Secret Service has been in the news recently claiming the agency is lacking the right leadership. Reports that I have referred to in this blog, such as the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government and the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS), have found that leadership is on the decline and steps need to be taken now to avoid the situation from continuing to spiral downward.

Will the new budget plan be enough to change the current leadership crisis?

Obama’s goal to “create a 21st century government” includes addressing management initiatives to drive further growth and opportunity and “deliver a Government that is more effective, efficient, and supportive of economic growth.” The President’s budget plan incorporates the following strategies to begin tackling this leadership crisis:

  • Includes initiatives to deliver better, faster, and smarter services to citizens and businesses, including investing in new approaches to digital services to provide a world-class customer service experience to citizens and businesses to Government information technology.
  • Expands the use of shared services between Federal agencies and strategic sourcing to leverage the buying power of the Government, bringing greater value and efficiency for taxpayer dollars.
  • Continues to open Government data and research for public and private sector use to spur innovation and job creation, while ensuring strong privacy protections.
  • Invests in training, development, and recruitment of the Federal workforce, unlocking the potential of our Government and ensuring that we can attract and retain the best talent and foster a culture of excellence.

Recently, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) was requested to conduct a study to analyze the reasons why morale has declined to its current level and determine the steps that need to be taken to boost employee engagement, motivation, and productivity. Research of this caliber would be helpful to provide a set of guidelines to federal agencies that are in desperate need of a leadership change. The training investment President Obama has included in his budget plan is the right direction needed to initiate that change.

The Ken Blanchard Companies has worked with several organizations to conduct an Employee Work Passion assessment that measures employee perceptions revolved around twelve organization and job factors and the intentions that result from these perceptions. An individual employee’s perceptions influence not only their feelings about their job but also influence whether or not they intend to stay with the agency, their discretionary effort and productivity they put forth in their role, and their intent on how they endorse the agency. When an individual’s perceptions are understood, a strategy for improvement is recognized, thus improving individual morale and organizational success. Researchers at Blanchard conducted a study along with Training Magazine that centered on important factors regarding employee retention, job and organizational factors that survey participants felt were most important, and who was responsible for ensuring that the needs pertaining to those areas were met. Learn more about this study and the results the research team at Blanchard uncovered in the Employee Work Passion whitepaper.

What are your thoughts on Obama’s budget plan to implement more efficient leadership and management training and an overall positive perception in the Federal Government? Do you think it’s enough?

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6 Principles Of Committing To Your Commitment

Achieve Your Goals

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?

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A Breakthrough Year for America

state of the union addressIn last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama covered a lot of ground around topics like jobs and the economy, immigration, education, and energy. As with many of these addresses in the past, regardless who was serving as our country’s Chief of Staff, there are several mixed reviews of what the President had to say. Some may support the proposed initiatives highlighted last night, while others may have little faith that many of the changes will occur, and there are many articles already published that critique the address.

One constant that was evident and encompassed the entire Address was change. In order for America to grow, we need change. President Obama structured that change in the form of raising the minimum wage, offering equal pay for equal work, keeping the dream of homeownership alive, driving health insurance reform, providing next-generation connectivity, and incentivizing clean energy solutions, among others. Another change that caught my ear was the examination of federal job training programs.

President Obama stated he is involving Vice-President Biden in an “across the board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need.”  “That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life,” Obama said.

A change like this to federal job training programs could solve a complex issue that is facing our government—leadership deficiency. Agencies need to develop their leaders and equip them with the skills needed to develop into a candidate for the Senior Executive Service (SES) or other leadership positions that are currently unfilled. With a vast number of federal employees set to retire, many agencies will soon be faced with the conundrum of who will fill those leadership roles. Considering that this next generation will lead the federal agencies that support the overall mission of our country, let’s hope that Obama’s hope to reform federal job training programs includes leadership training.

What did you think about President Obama’s State of the Union Address last night?

Are you ready for a Year of Action?

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3 Steps to Discover and Retain the Intrapreneur at Your Organization

intrapreneur, change, innovationChange is a constant. Like it or not, it is inevitable that at some point throughout your career, you will experience a change that forces you to rethink everything; your goals, your strategy, your outlook, maybe even your job. Nobody is exempt from change. Despite whatever GS level you currently hold or where you reside on the corporate ladder, change will find a way to squeeze onto your to-do list. When most people think of change, they think of current events that unenthusiastically impact an agency from the outside in, much like the shutdown or sequestration. The change that I’m referring to is change that comes from the inside and, if leaders are paying attention, has the opportunity to transform the way an agency, even the government, does business.  The change agents that initiate these transformations are called intrapreneurs.

Intrapreneur is not a new marketing buzzword. Most people have heard of these idea generating, passionate, radical thinkers. Many companies, like Google and Apple, encourage their employees to spend time thinking outside the box to come up with the next innovative idea. The challenge, when you’ve been lucky enough to uncover a forward thinker within your organization, is preventing leadership from the unbearable internal resistance that can cause intrapreneurs to take their ideas and run. This is the last thing that government agencies need to happen while they try to obtain and retain the talent they already possess. If you are lucky enough to have an intrapreneur working at your agency, there are steps you can take to make sure they don’t jump ship at the first opportunity.

Allow Employees Time to Think – There may be an intrapreneur right under your nose and you may not even realize it. Heck, they may not even realize it! A good leader encourages and coaches individuals to instill forward thinking. Inspire your staff. Build confidence. Empower their originality. Lead change.

Nurture New Ideas – A new idea doesn’t have to derail the overall strategy of the agency. Often times, leaders dismiss what could have been a more efficient and innovative concept, that contributed to the accomplishment of the agency’s mission, simply because it’s outside the routine way the organization does business. As a leader, recognize that your ideas are not the only good ideas that come out of your department. Work with your staff, don’t dictate, about how their ideas could or couldn’t work for your agency.

Incorporate Innovative Ideas into Daily Tasks – Not all ideas will work for your agency but when a thought-out concept is brought to the table, don’t immediately dismiss it unless you’ve given it a test run. Try incorporating innovative ideas into the daily tasks that are already working for your agency. By changing the routine up just a bit, you might uncover a more efficient way of performing a task or accomplishing a goal. Taking small steps to test out a new idea can set a leader’s mind at ease by avoiding a significant set-back that could occur by taking the idea full throttle too soon. It can also make the intrapreneur feel valued, trusted, and supported knowing that their idea spurred a positive change within the agency.

People often resist change when they’re not a part of the change process. Create a culture where intrapreneurship thrives and ground-breaking ideas are encouraged and the idea generators will want to support the mission.

Are you an intrapreneur? How does your agency allow for intrapreneurship at your agency?

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How are your agency’s training dollars being spent?

In 1967, President Johnson signed an executive order that provided agency leaders and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the presidential guidance on how training programs should be implemented at government agencies. The order requires OPM to support agencies in developing adequate training programs and to provide assistance with planning, programming, budgeting, operating, and evaluating training programs. Specifically, leaders working in OPM’s Training and Executive Development (TED) Group offer direction on how to implement training programs within agencies, as well as, provide counsel to ensure that those training programs support strategic human capital investments. In fact, OPM created five guides that agencies can use to reference when deciding on specific training programs for their staff. These guides include Human Resources Reporting, Training Evaluation Field Guide, Draft Training Policy Handbook, Collection and Management of Training Information, and Strategically Planning Training and Measuring Results.

Many struggles that federal agencies are facing today include building and maintaining the talent pool of employees, preparing the next generation of leaders, and bridging the gap of multigenerational workers. Overcoming these challenges requires appropriate training programs and government leaders must know how to implement that training in order to achieve the agency’s mission. Below is a list of eight best training practices that the United States Government Accountability Office recommends all agencies implement in order to support effective training investment decisions.

Practice 1: (a) Identify the appropriate level of investment to provide for training and development efforts and (b) prioritize funding so that the most important training needs are addressed first.

Practice 2: Identify the most appropriate mix of centralized and decentralized approaches for its training and development programs.

Practice 3: Consider government-wide reforms and other targeted initiatives to improve management and performance when planning its training and development programs.

Practice 4: Have criteria for determining whether to design training and development programs in-house or obtain these services from a contractor or other external source.

Practice 5: Compare the merits of different delivery mechanisms (such as classroom or computer-based training) and determine what mix of mechanisms to use to ensure efficient and cost-effective delivery.

Practice 6: Track the cost and delivery of its training and development programs agency wide.

Practice 7: Evaluate the benefits achieved through training and development programs, including improvements in individual and agency performance:

(a) Has a formal process for evaluating employee satisfaction with training.

(b) Has a formal process for evaluating improvement in employee performance after training.

(c) Has a formal process for evaluating the impact of training on the agency’s performance goals and mission.

Practice 8: Compare training investments, methods, or outcomes with those of other organizations to identify innovative approaches or lessons learned.

Source: GAO analysis based on prior GAO reports, other related expert studies, and federal training requirements.

How many of the practices listed above has your agency put into practice?

On September 26th, several agency leadership training developers will be discussing the training initiatives that are working within their agency and how you can fund and implement a training program in your agency. Learn more about how you can join and participate in that conversation.

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Declaring Your Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Declaration of Independence

Today we celebrate America’s 236th birthday! The Fourth of July is honored with celebrations, parades, carnivals, and fireworks. However, today is not just about a day off from work or backyard BBQ’s. July 4th marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence back in 1776. Today we celebrate the thirteen original American colonies becoming independent states and no longer a part of the British Empire.  This statement was drafted and approved in what is known as the Declaration of Independence.

Independence of our nation was initiated by a publication written by Thomas Paine entitled, Common Sense. In Paine’s writings, he advocated for colonial independence and set forth of flurry of public debate on the topic. Several leaders followed Paine’s vocation of communicating the importance and need of moving our nation towards independence. Finally, on June 11, 1776, the committee of five consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman were appointed to draft the declaration. After some final editing, Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.

Paine, Adams, Franklin, and the many other leaders that had a hand in our nation’s independence were empowered individuals that realized a need for our country. As self-leaders, they took the necessary steps to make their goal a reality. Even 236 years later, companies today rely on empowered individuals to get the job done. Self leaders take the initiative to get what they need to succeed and their leaders respond to those needs. This is when a self leader is truly empowered! Authors of Self Leadership and The One Minute Manager teach three skills of self leadership:

Challenge Assumed Constraints – An assumed constraint is a belief, based on past experience, which limits current and future experiences.

Celebrate Your Points of Power – Every individual holds points of power, they just aren’t aware of them. The five points of power are

     Position power – authority of your position

     Personal power – personal traits such as strong interpersonal skills or passion

     Task power – ability to help or block others in getting a task completed

     Relationship power – association with others

     Knowledge power – expertise associated with degrees or certifications

Collaborate for Success – The initiatives self leaders take in order to get the direction and support they need to achieve their goals.

So whether you hold a manager role or not, everyone can be a leader. How are you creating your independence and self leading yourself to successfully achieve your goals?

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

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Create Yourself: 2 Choices to Functionality in the Workplace

I’m following a series of blog posts by Pat Fiorenza on GovLoop that focus on how to break down silos in government. This week’s post is about what skills the next generation of government leaders need to have in order to be successful. Pat includes the following traits that every government leader should possess.

  • Skilled Collaborators
  • Risk Taking
  • Accepts Failure

Risk taking is one trait that many of us may struggle with because it’s, well, risky. Fiorenza says, “Future leaders will be successful if they are not afraid to try something new, break the mold and test out new ideas.”  If we as leaders never think outside the box, we’ll just continue to do the same things and get the same results.

Check out this video clip featuring Dr. Drea Zigarmi, Founder and Researcher at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Drea states that you have two choices to functionality. You can be comfortably dysfunctional or uncomfortably functional. Which choice are you making when it comes to how you lead yourself or your direct reports?

Want to hear more from Dr. Zigarmi? Register for his upcoming webinar, Beyond Engagement: Key Strategies for Government Leaders on Wednesday, June 6th at 12:00pm EST. Join Drea as he discusses how Employee Work Passion creates a positive emotional state of mind, which results in desired attitudes and behavior including a willingness to apply discretionary effort, long-term commitment to the agency, peak performance, and job satisfaction.

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