Archive for category Supervisor

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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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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Do our nation’s leaders need more leadership training?

I work for a leadership and training development company. I am constantly surrounded by best practices on leading a team, leading in a situation, and even leading myself. I am continuously exposed to the skills required to develop an individual into a great leader, motivate a team member, and generate empowerment in a direct report. So when I read reports like The Federal Leadership Challenge from the Partnership for Public Service (PPS), I have to remember that not everyone has the same daily experience that I have. PPS conducted an analysis using the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and uncovered that leadership is the lowest ranking category in the Federal Government. The report states that out of 10 workplace categories, leadership has the lowest ranking, scoring only 54.9 out of 100. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is a Situational Approach Right for You and Your Leader?

44% of respondents say that the individual supervisor is the highest contributing factor to increasing employee engagement; 39% by amount of communication; 31% by change in leadership – Towers Watson, 2010 Global Workforce Survey

Unfortunately, many supervisors utilize one approach to leadership that may seem to work for them, when in reality, it is not motivating their direct report. Leaders should tailor their leadership style to the situation. Adopting this approach increases open communication and fosters a partnership between the leader and the people the leader supports and depends on. Watch this short video on how you can implement a situational approach to leading your direct reports.

To hear more about leading with a situational approach, register to watch and participate on a live webcast with Jim Atwood, Director of Government Solutions for The Ken Blanchard Companies. The webcast will be on Thursday, February 2nd at 9:00am PST followed by a live chat with Jim here on How Gov Leads.

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Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey Released

The Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (formerly the Federal Human Capital Survey) was released this week. This survey was designed to measure Federal employees’ perceptions about how effectively agencies are managing their workforces.

Conducted by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), over a quarter-million Federal workers responded to the survey. “President Obama has made it clear: the Federal government needs to deliver results for the taxpayers. Our civil servants are the people who deliver those results, and we at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management are doing everything we can to make them the best, most productive workers in the world,” said OPM Director John Berry.

Below you’ll find some highlights of the results:

• 5% increase in belief that organizations’ leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity.
• 4% increase in having high level of respect for organization’s senior leaders.
• 4% increase in feeling that leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment, but scores on this item are still below 50 percent favorability.
• Less than half of respondents thought that promotions were based on merit, that pay raises were connected with job performance or that steps were taken to deal with poor performers.
• There are 3-5% increases in supervisor performance discussions seen as worthwhile, perceptions that performance appraisals are fair and differences in performance are recognized.

This survey is conducted every two years. Here are some interesting trends from the past three surveys (2006, 2008, and 2010):

• I have trust and confidence in my supervisor: 2006 – 63.8%; 2008 – 64.2%; 2010 – 66.5%
• I have a high level of respect for my organization’s senior leaders: 2006 – 49.5%; 2008 – 52.1%; 2010 – 55.6%
• How satisfied are you with the work/life programs in your agency: 2006 – 38.6%; 2008 – 39.9%; 2010 – 35.4%

To read the entire report, visit the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s website.

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3 Challenges for First-Year Supervisors

“With more federal workers nearing retirement, training current and future supervisors is a matter of national urgency.”

— Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, saying he is pleased House lawmakers have introduced a companion to a Senate measure requiring more training for federal managers.

The senator from Hawaii is not alone. For years the issue of succession planning has been a hot topic for the US Federal Government. Last week The 2010 Federal Supervisor Training Act was introduced requiring supervisors to receive initial training within one year of being promoted and once every three years after.

With an influx of new supervisors entering in the Federal government, training and mentoring new supervisors will be key elements for success. Madeleine Homan, cofounder of Coaching Services for The Ken Blanchard Companies® says that the biggest challenge for new supervisors is making the shift from a self-oriented focus, to one that is more focused on others. As Homan explains, “The biggest challenge is going from a mono-focused work life where all you had to think about was yourself and your daily task list and moving to a world view that is so much broader.”

Homan feels new managers need to identify the challenges they’ll face during an often difficult first year.

1. Getting comfortable with being a beginner again – Know that it is ok to feel overwhelmed. The key is how you respond. Do you work through it and take time to learn new skills or do you fall back into your comfort zone?

2. Scoring some early wins – Finding something early in the first six or eight weeks will boost a new manager’s confidence and earn some credibility and respect from their people.

3. Learning how to ask for help – Homan’s final recommendation is “to get a mentor—someone who is either a peer and has been a manager for a reasonable amount of time, or someone who is at your boss’ level that you might have a relationship with or you might have something in common with.”

Understanding these three elements can make for a smoother transition for any first-year supervisors. To learn more about what it takes to be a successful first-year supervisor I’d recommend reading First-Time Manager: It’s not just about you anymore.

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