Archive for category Productivity

You Forgot Your Socks… Again?! Leadership Priorities in a Time of Change

Leadership Priorities in a Time of ChangeToday’s post was written by How Gov Lead’s new contributing author, Amber Hansen.  Amber has worked in Government contracting for over nine years. She is currently a Project Manager working with Federal Government clients at The Ken Blanchard Companies. Watch this blog for more thought leadership from Amber.

Have you ever met someone who is really great at one part of their job and terrible at another?  I happen to be married to a man who for many years was a Navy Corpsman who loved his job but struggled with some of what comes with being in the military.  I once heard a leader of his say he was “an amazing Corpsman and a terrible sailor.”  To put it in very simple terms, that means he was really good at caring for his patients and training junior members of his team and not so great at keeping his uniform in order and being on time.  This leader understood clearly that my husband had significant strengths but like all of us, he had weaknesses, too.

What happens when forgetting to bring the right kind of socks for a uniform becomes a reason to be reprimanded at work?  That may depend on one’s leader.  Some of us are truly adept at handling the details of life; we might keep backup socks in the car just in case.  Others just do not think this way.  My husband is very bright, he learns things quickly, takes what he believes is useful and leaves behind what he sees as a bit of a waste of his time.  I suspect the things that may have made him a good sailor, like bringing the right pair of socks, were the same things that appeared to him to be a waste of time.  In my husband’s world, ensuring he had the right medical supplies packed for a mission ranked just a little higher than the socks.  If my life depended on him and I had to choose between socks and medical supplies I would be glad to have left the socks behind.

Some of the military leaders I have met would focus on those missing socks because they see that as the foundation to doing the rest of any job well.  They could not see past the socks to find a truly valuable and talented team member.  They allowed the socks to become the focus of their interaction with a Corpsman who by the end of his career was influencing the careers of junior Corpsman, helping them build their skills, improve their productivity, and learn to teach others.

Our military is dealing with stressors many civilians cannot fully comprehend.  From multiple deployments and Post Traumatic Stress to shrinking budgets and less time and resources to train; our military members work hard and they deserve leaders who are prepared to support and serve them. Our military and government leaders need to be innovative in this new world of looming sequester budgets and ongoing wars. And they must ensure their teams are able to fully realize their potential in order to bring the most value to the organization and to themselves. Empowerment is key!

When a team member can’t seem to remember to bring the right socks the leader must set him up to succeed anyway.  Helping that direct report remember to “bring the appropriate socks” may seem like a waste of time, but if it is a waste of time for the leader, perhaps that is the heart of the reason it’s a waste of time for the individual.  If a leader can show that helping that sailor succeed with his socks, the payoff is that the sailor will trust the leader to help him succeed in much more significant ways.

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Learning To Be A Great Leader: How Leading Up Can Influence Your Supervisor’s Leadership Skills

leadership skillsI 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?

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Motivating Your Employees When Change is Looming Around the Corner

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?

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See Ken Blanchard LIVE in D.C.

When agencies are hit with budget cuts, leadership development training initiatives are often the first to go. Without a clear understanding of the positive and measurable mission impact, it’s easy to dismiss leadership development as being too expensive and too time consuming. The result can lead to employees showing up for work to collect a paycheck, without the maximum motivation and engagement to support the accomplishment of their agency’s mission.

Reserve your space now to join Ken Blanchard and other leadership development experts who will share insights on how investing in your agency’s most important asset–people–will re-engage employees and grow great leaders.

Why you need to attend:

  • Learn ways you can motivate yourself and others by increasing productivity, enhancing motivation, encouraging creativity, and building loyalty.
  • Understand the three inherent needs every disengaged employee requires to get motivated. 
  • Address generational differences impacting today’s leaders and the next generation in line for those leadership roles, and why this is critical to attracting – and keeping – Generation X, Y, and Millennial employees engaged.

Share Best Practices, Skills, and Ideas with your Colleagues

You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with a panel of your colleagues as they share the leadership training, strategies, and programs that have been successful within their agencies.

Speakers include:

  • Ken Blanchard, Co-founder, Author – The Ken Blanchard Companies
  • Sharon Ridings, National Training Manager – Environmental Protection Agency
  • Sioux Thompson, Head of Organization Development and Learning – Board of Governors, Federal Reserve
  • Jeff Vargas, Chief Learning Officer – Commodity Futures Trading Commission
  • Peter Shelby, Chief Learning Officer – National Reconnaissance Office, Co-Chair – Federal CLO Council
  • Naomi Leventhal, Director – Deloitte Consulting

* Register by September 17th and bring a colleague from your agency for half the price. ($174 savings)

For more information, click here or call Christine Simmons at 800-272-3933.

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Is a Disengaged Government Employee a Loyal Employee?

The answer may be yes! Studies show that while most government employees are satisfied with their jobs, many are not actively engaged in the performance and quality of their work. Yet, a hearty 63% of those public sector workers say that they intend to stay in their positions long-term. Factors such as leadership effectiveness, performance management, employee involvement, and pay and benefits have a significant impact on how government employees feel about their jobs. Why would someone stay in a job where they’re not satisfied? Have we become so immune to the fact that we should actually enjoy (gasp!) what we do or are we just going through the motions to collect a paycheck? Perhaps our lives have become so fast paced, that we are simply showing up and are satisfied getting by with “good enough.”

I recently sent an email correspondence out to a colleague asking several questions about a project we are working on together. Less than two minutes later, my phone rings. It was my colleague calling to talk about the email I sent. The funny thing about this scenario is that it completely caught me off-guard! It was so odd to me that instead of responding to my inquiry via email, he chose to actually pick up the phone and talk about the project. Sensing my initial “shock,” we discussed how we, as a society, have grown so accustomed to the “speed of light” work environment, the “just get it done” mentality, and the impersonal form of communication that has become the norm. After I hung-up the phone, I not only got the answer to my questions that allowed me to move forward on the project, I also felt a connection with my colleague that gave me a sense of satisfaction and engagement that felt pretty darn good. Since that brief conversation, I’ve continued to think about the message that I took from that telephone call and how I can become more engaged and motivated, not just with the quality of my performance, but in the quality of my interactions with individuals both on and off the job.

Motivation experts, Drea Zigarmi, Susan Fowler, and David Facer, believe that motivation is a skill that can be taught, learned, developed, and nurtured. Motivated employees, at all levels of the agency, experience higher levels of energy, vitality, and well-being by leveraging their natural tendency to:

  • Attain and sustain peak performance.
  • Craft innovative solutions to persistent problems.
  • Continually build their competence and creativity for identifying opportunities to accomplish their goals, contribute to the agency’s mission, and discover new ways of motivating others.
  • Build and continually enrich the organizational culture and community.

Employees are looking for leaders that can instill motivation, work passion, and creativity that inspires them to work hard and make a significant contribution to their agency.

Do you have a story about a situation that motivated you and created a work passion you never thought was possible? Share it here and let’s motivate each other.

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Six Challenges Consuming Federal Agencies And How To Overcome Them

Government agencies are being confronted with a multitude of challenges that are forcing leadership to make some drastic changes. Decreased budgets, increasing workloads, and high turn-over are just a few hurdles that agency leaders have to overcome as they struggle to improve the general consensus of working for the federal government. Earlier this year, fifty-five Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs) were interviewed on the state of the federal workforce and the challenges they encounter in the federal government.

These interviews were conducted by the Partnership for Public Service and Grant Thornton, LLP and their findings were recently published in the report, Bracing for Change. What they uncovered after talking with these CHCOs were six challenges that are evident in the federal government: declining budgets, higher employee turnover, inadequate succession planning, lack of key competencies, gaps in agency leadership skills, and job satisfaction and communication issues.

Budget-cuts are not a new topic in the federal government. Agency employees have had to endure pay freezes, increased workloads, and limited resources. These conditions can lead to a decline in productivity, motivation, and engagement. According to the report, 72% of CHCOs are anticipating workforce reductions as a result of plunging budgets. These circumstances, along with the influx of government employees at or near retirement, are leading to high turnover. When these individuals leave, they’ll take vast amounts of experience and expertise along with them. Will the next generation of leaders have what it takes to step up and fill that gap? Inadequate succession planning, another challenge facing agencies, is causing CHCOs to wonder if future leaders possess the skills required for the roles they’re about to step into. Surprisingly, only twenty-seven percent of the CHCOs interviewed said their agency’s succession planning was sufficiently gearing-up employees to take on a leadership role.

When asked about the overall competency of agency’s HR staff, only forty-two percent viewed them as a trusted advisor. This number was down from forty-six percent in 2010. But it’s not only the HR staff that is getting a raised eyebrow. Only eighteen percent feel that agency leaders possess the skills needed to be successful and lead their staff. It’s no surprise then that federal employees are wavering in their commitment and satisfaction with their jobs and agencies are having a tough time attracting new talent.

The good news is that not all hope is lost. Based on these interviews and the feedback provided from the participating CHCOs, there are several recommendations on how to overcome these challenges and set-backs.

Reform the civil service system – The phrase, never let a crisis go to waste, has some bearings in this situation. Now is the time for government officials to turn things around to rethink pay and compensation reform, further improve the federal hiring system, update veterans preference laws and merit systems protections.

Stay the course on initiatives that are achieving results – Now is not the time to shy away from certain initiatives because they consume scarce resources. Investing in training to improve staff skill-set, devising ways to grow great leaders within the agency, and using metrics to guide decision-making will aid agencies in meeting their missions.

Improve succession planning – With the impending number of employees leaving the organization due to retirement and other reasons, many agencies must ensure knowledge transfer and skill-set for the next generation of government leaders.

Increase standardization of HR IT and use of shared services – Limited resources are forcing agencies to abandon their own unique systems. Many are relying on the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to guide and support them on this issue.

Use available data and metrics – Utilizing available data to communicate with employees and increase transparency can lead to more engaged, committed, and passionate employees.

Implementing these recommendations based on the challenges most agencies are facing, can be a difficult task. How do you communicate change to your staff? How can employees open up to their managers and discuss the struggles they’re having within the workforce? You can learn how by signing up for an upcoming webinar featuring Eryn Kalish, professional mediator and relationship expert. Eryn will address these sensitive issues, reveal an important skill that can make a huge impact, and explain how to create a positive work environment that will lead to passionate employees that want to perform at their best. Sign-up to learn more!

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The Leadership Priority: Investing in Training to Grow Great Leaders

When agencies are hit with budget cuts, leadership development training initiatives are often the first to go. Without a clear understanding of the positive and measurable mission impact, it’s easy to dismiss leadership development as being too expensive and too time consuming. In addition to expending millions of budget dollars each year, less-than-optimal leadership practices negatively impact employee retention, satisfaction, morale, and productivity. The result can lead to employees showing up for work to collect a paycheck, without the maximum motivation and engagement to support the accomplishment of their agency’s mission.

Reserve your space now to join Ken Blanchard and other leadership development experts that will share insights on how investing in your agency’s most important asset – people – will re-engage employees and grow great leaders.

Why you need to attend:

  • Learn ways you can motivate yourself and others by increasing productivity, enhancing motivation, encouraging creativity, and building loyalty.
  • Understand the 3 inherent needs every disengaged employee requires to get motivated.
  • Address generational differences impacting today’s leaders and the next generation in line for those leadership roles, and why this is critical to attracting – and keeping – Generation X, Y, and Millennial employees engaged.
  • Interact with your colleagues to discover how they’ve implemented successful (and on budget) training initiatives within their agencies.

Share Best Practices, Skills, and Ideas Forum

You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with a panel of your government colleagues as they share the leadership training, strategies, and programs that have been successful at their agencies.

Speakers:
Ken Blanchard, Co-founder, Author – The Ken Blanchard Companies
Sharon Ridings, National Training Manager – Environmental Protection Agency
Sioux Thompson, Head of Organization Development and Learning – Board of Governors, Federal Reserve
Peter Shelby, Chief Learning Officer – National Reconnaissance Office
Naomi Leventhal, Director– Deloitte Consulting
Jeff Vargas, Chief Learning Officer – Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Jim Atwood, Director of Government Leadership Solutions – The Ken Blanchard Companies

Date, Time, and Location:
September 26, 2012
The City Club of Washington
555 13th Street, NW
Columbia Square
Washington, D.C. 20004

Breakfast and Registration
8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.
Leadership Development Summit
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

For more information and to reserve your seat, call Christine Simmons at 800-272-3933.

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