Archive for category Roles

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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Why You’re Really Hitting The Snooze Button

employee engagementMillions of people watched Gwen Dean as she quit her job as an engineer in a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl last week. Gwen’s dream was to start a puppeteer business, and with the help of, she is doing just that. Over 17 million of us have watched Marina Shifrin’s “I quit” video announcing her resignation from her role at a Taiwanese animation firm. Shifrin’s move landed her countless job offers, including an offer to be a digital content producer on Queen Latifah’s talk show. These decisions by Gwen, Marina, and others have caused some colorful feedback on whether or not the method they chose to leave their current jobs, in order to pursue their dreams, was appropriate. Despite that, these individuals have taken the steps to do what makes them happy, whether they loved their job or not.

CareerBuilder conducted a study and found that 1 in 5 U.S. workers will search for a new job in 2014, despite the economy and the unemployment rate. Gallup study results have shown that only 13% of employees are engaged at work, 63% are not engaged, and 24% are actively disengaged. (Go ahead and read that sentence again if you’re as shocked as I was by those stats.) Specifically in the federal sector, we’ve seen reports like the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government study uncover a steady decline in how satisfied government employees are with their jobs, leadership, and agencies.

A whitepaper, written by researchers at The Ken Blanchard Companies®, includes findings that state, “when employees perceive a manager is more concerned with his or her own agenda than with the welfare of others, negative affect is often the result. This is coupled by the employees’ reluctance to endorse the organization and its leadership, to stay with the organization, and to feel connected with their leader or colleagues.” The report goes on to affirm, “another implication for practice is for HR personnel and strategic leaders to create and sponsor leadership training programs and company values that stress and support servant leaders. Consistent, overt, self-concerned managers should be counseled and invited to become more aware of their behavior.”

Training magazine and The Ken Blanchard Companies asked over 800 Training magazine readers what they felt were the most important factors when it comes to staying engaged in the workplace. The responses include:

  • Job Factors—Autonomy, Meaningful Work, Feedback, Workload Balance, and Task Variety
  • Organizational Factors—Collaboration, Performance, Expectations, Growth, Procedural Justice (process fairness), and Distributive Justice (rewards, pay, and benefits)
  • Relationship Factors—Connectedness with Colleagues and Connectedness with Leaders

Are these factors aligned with what keeps you engaged at your agency? Share what additional factors are important for you to remain engaged and passionate about your role?

So the next time you’re about to hit the snooze button for the eighth time, think about if the factors that keep you engaged in the workplace exist with your current role.

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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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It’s a Fiscal Cliff! It’s a Sequester! It’s Ineffective Leadership?

SequestrationAs 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.

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Sink or Swim: Challenging Times for New Executive Leaders

Agency support of career executives is critical.

You’ve finally made it! It’s your first day on the job as an executive leader and you may not realize it yet, but you are about to fail. This is the unfortunate outcome for 16 percent of Senior Executive Service members that were unsuccessful in completing their 1-year probationary period. Surprisingly, their failure is not due to a lack of expertise, motivation, or engagement; most were not offered an effective onboarding program. The Corporate Leadership Council found that there are five typical reasons that executives don’t succeed:

  • They fail to establish a cultural fit
  • They fail to build teamwork with staff and peers
  • They are unclear about the performance expected of them
  • They lack political savvy
  • Their organizations do not have a strategic, formal process to assimilate executives into the organization

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) realizes the importance of effectively onboarding senior executives so they are set-up for success rather than failure. The OPM collaborated with the Senior Executives Association (SEA) and the Partnership for Public Service (PPS) to talk about what a productive executive onboarding program looks like. As a result of their efforts, OPM published a manual for agencies to reference when designing a program personalized for their new executives. The manual addresses the current problems with onboarding Federal leaders, why they fail, and how they should adjust their existing program.

Leaders that are not prepared for what challenges they are faced with in their new role have an effect on more than whether they stay in their role or not. Ill-prepared leaders cost companies millions of dollars each year by negatively impacting employee retention, customer satisfaction, and employee productivity. However, many change initiators fail to realize this impact and choose to do nothing to remedy the problem. The Ken Blanchard Companies has come up with a free online calculator that measures the cost of doing nothing. This tool has helped companies realize that the longer they wait to make these important changes, the more ineffective their agency becomes.

Learn more about common challenges that today’s leaders face.

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Are You Happy With Your Job?

They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. This statement is true for some but unfortunately, there are several federal government employees that are less than satisfied with the work they do on a daily basis.  A study released by the Partnership for Public Service and Deloitte focusing on job satisfaction of federal employees reported that those who have been on the job for three years or more are less satisfied with their jobs versus those that have been in their role for less than three years. In addition, effective leadership and employee relationship and interaction with their supervisors had a major impact on the individual’s level of satisfaction.  Pay, training, and opportunity for advancement also played a significant role in on-the-job fulfillment.

Fifty-nine percent of individuals indicated they had left an organization due to trust issues.

Trust is a key influencer of job satisfaction.  When employees lack trust with their immediate supervisor, motivation and productivity decline and performance falters.  So how can leaders improve trust with their direct reports?  The Ken Blanchard Companies has researched how trust impacts work relationships and has designed the TrustWorks! ABCD Trust Model.  The model is comprised of four elements of trust that leaders should take into account when working with the people they lead. The Trust model can assist leaders with increasing the level of trust or repair relationships where trust has been lost.

 The four elements are Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable.

  • Able is about demonstrating competence.
  • Believable means acting with integrity.
  • Connected is about demonstrating care and concern for other people.
  • Dependable is about reliably following through on what the leaders say that they are going to do.

Do you fully trust your supervisor?  How can your leader improve your level of trust?

Here are 8 ways your agency can enhance the trust between you and your leaders and coworkers.

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A Light at the End of the SES Tunnel

Senior Executive Service employees have had several changes take place regarding their roles and responsibilities over the past year but a recent memo delivered to the organization may be music to some folk’s ears. Senior Executives have been tasked with identifying poor –performing programs, eliminate some of the reporting requirements placed on agencies and maintain new requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act, all while seeing smaller pay raises. A recent study by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) found SES members received an average 2.7 percent increase in pay, the lowest in the five years since a pay-for performance system began.

When people are empowered, their organizations benefit.

All this may push someone to throw in the towel. However, good news came in the form of a memo to SES members on Friday from Jeff Zients, Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director for Management and John Berry, Office of Personnel Management Director outlining proposals developed by the President’s Management Council to streamline the performance appraisal process and certification system, boost recruitment for SES jobs and improve executive engagement and career development opportunities.

Key initiatives include:

• Stronger links between employee appraisal systems and agency performance goals, as well as improved personnel performance planning, assessment and recognition.

• More engagement of senior agency leaders in SES issues through coordination with the PMC, the Chief Human Capital Officers Council and the Performance Improvement Council, along with agency-specific SES forums.

• Additional opportunities for SES career development, including a one-year onboarding program for new executives; government wide leadership development curricula and events; networking programs; and a pilot project offering rotational opportunities for upper-level GS employees.

• Improved recruitment for SES jobs through a resume-based hiring pilot project, external talent searches and a cross-agency effort to market and recruit for open positions.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executive Association was very happy with the efforts of the organization to collaborate with the government on improving opportunities for SES employees. Such opportunities can increase employee passion and dedication to the organization. Scott Blanchard and Drea Zigarmi of the Ken Blanchard Companies conducted a study on what kind of leadership has the greatest impact on performance. The team discovered that employee success included things like employee satisfaction, employee loyalty, employee productivity, perceptions of one’s relationship with his or her manger and the team environment, and more tangible measures, like absenteeism, tardiness, and vandalism.

What are other positive results that can be created from this opportunity?

Find out what Blanchard believes are the 8 factors that lead to employee passion.

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