Posts Tagged productivity

Building Bridges: 4 Keys to COPE with Workplace Demands

business woman leading a team isolated over whiteIt’s people and their associated behaviors—not just spreadsheets and action plans—that drive successful projects. An effective manager-employee connection is vital: everyone has times when they need support, direction, and encouragement to stay energized and committed. Still, the notion of managers establishing and sustaining relationships with their people is often overshadowed by the day-to-day work of managing projects.

Here are four relationship building practices managers can use to help employees stay focused, stay energized, and COPE with workplace demands.

  1. Career planning. When employees believe there are options for advancement, they are more likely to have a high level of commitment. But it is important to remember that career advancement means different things to different people. One person might have a desire to lead others while another is content to be a specialist without supervisory responsibility. Successful leaders open a dialogue about specific options that are important to each employee, review potential paths to achieving goals, and maintain an ongoing conversation.
  1. Open door approach. Next, employees need to see the manager as easily accessible. An open door approach is a relationship building tool that enables a trusting, two-way dialogue. This can be achieved through MBWA (management by walking around—somewhat of a lost art); one-on-one meetings that create a safe harbor for exchange; reserving time in the office for employees to visit as desired; and using 360-degree feedback. Reserved office hours might take many of us back to university days when professors welcomed a visit to discuss a class assignment or clarify a topic. In addition to gathering needed information, these hours were conducive to relationship building—students knew they would be welcome without appointment or concern about interrupting workflow.
  1. Problem solving. The open door approach not only creates an environment and opportunity for exchange, it also provides a forum for problem solving. Problem solving often requires the support of others—and its success can depend upon the extent and effectiveness of the manager-employee relationship. If a solution calls for a change in policy, an allocation of resources, or something else requiring a manager’s involvement, the presence of a quality manager-employee relationship will smooth the process.
  1. Engaged Innovation. Innovation can move the agency needle on breakthroughs related to delivering the best public service. Often the answer to recurring and persistent issues can be found at the point of delivery: customer-facing employees will likely have ideas on how to remove obstacles to success. Bringing these innovative ideas forward requires engagement on the part of the manager and the employee—and the level of engagement is based on the success of their relationship.

Every agency should explore the degree to which leaders acknowledge, understand, and participate in relationship building. This is not a “nice-to-have” task; effective manager-employee relationships should be an important component of every workplace.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Established Culture…When Is It Time for Change?

When faced with a changing marketplace or regulatory environment, a new technology, or a required shift in strategic direction, an organization’s established culture can impede progress and require change.  As a case in point, one could argue the U.S. federal government is faced with just such a challenge as it deals with external and internal changes.

Externally, emerging cloud technologies and solutions are changing the way that documents are stored, shared, and updated. With regard to culture, cloud solutions will unleash important methods to support a new era of cross agency cooperation and an improved ability to harness intellectual capital and leverage the power of virtual teamwork.

Recent changes in the European financial markets will require global commerce policy to be more sensitive to how the U.S. responds.  Changes to Swiss National Bank policy stunned financial markets and had a tangible impact on trade. Further, the recent and unexpected changes in Greece’s government are challenging the way governments are supported with loans and subsidies.

Internally, the declining trend in Employee Viewpoint Survey (EVS) scores suggests that each agency may need to reexamine the way in which it defines and manages its culture. Questions from EVS results regarding culture flow include:

  • Do values exist and are they real, visible, and connected to agency mission?
  • Does the current culture foster openness and contribution to decision making such that the workforce feels engaged with a vested and accountable interest?
  • Are leaders sufficiently prepared to lead others?

If agencies are to drive new policies and practices into their operations to satisfy necessary changes related to the above circumstances and deliver the highest degree of value to constituencies, a culture change initiative might be required to support new practices, processes, and policies.

What is involved in changing organizational culture?

A deliberate culture change process should follow three critical steps.

  1. Awareness—an agency must communicate the change and establish the reason for change. In this regard, agency leadership must clearly and deliberately address the question why. Once the workforce understands the need for change, there is a greater likelihood that the workforce will accept the need for change. Not everyone will embrace and agree to the change, but awareness does help in the move to acceptance. 
  1. Informing and Training—to move the organization from awareness and acceptance to the desired state of buy-in and participation, senior leadership must message the specifics behind the why. The agency must discuss more than just what has prompted the change. It is also important to establish what consequences exist if the change does not happen. Moreover, with a future desired state established, leaders need to be trained in leading others through training, building trust for change, and maintaining levels of customer service. 
  1. Measures, Milestones, and Structure—what gets measured and discussed will get done. As with any project, a change initiative should have specific success criteria, supporting metrics, and a schedule for tangible indications of change. Additionally, an organizational structure should be established to manage the change effort. This structure could take the form of an executive steering committee, a task force comprising individual contributors, midlevel managers, and senior leadership, or a program management office (PMO).

To succeed in a changing world, organizations need to periodically evaluate the external and internal environment with an eye toward trends or conditions that warrant adjustments in practice.  Culture can hinder progress—or, with proper foresight and training, it can help smooth the way toward change.

, , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments

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?

, , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment

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!

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The Boss Knows Best?

Today’s blog was written by guest blogger, David Carroll, Consulting Partner with the Ken Blanchard Companies and President of Carroll and Associates. David also writes for his own blog, Leadership Manager.

Organizations today are constantly undergoing change in order to stay competitive. These changes demand flexibility, fluidity, and innovation as well as a high priority on being “people-focused.”  Customers and employees both must feel that the organization cares passionately about them.  This only happens when organizations, and the organizations’ leaders, are trusted.  All relationships, personal and professional, are based upon trust.  However, trust means different things to different people. It is difficult to define what an environment of trust looks like…in fact it is easier to describe what a distrustful environment looks like: people withhold facts and information; managers set convoluted goals; management is not available; people talk behind each others’ backs. The list goes on and on.   

I recently heard a frustrating story of a real-life situation that left an employee feeling demoralized and undervalued.  The experience significantly diminished the level of trust he had with his manager.  The experience began when an, the employee responsible for reviewing inquiries and sending proposals received an e-mail from a client about a project.  The employee spent several hours researching and assessing the difficulty of the proposed project.  He then followed-up with an email to the client asking additional questions to clarify any current work being done relative to the project.   The client had very little information but was clearly very frustrated with the lack of progress on receiving a proposal. The employee notified his manager that due to the level of difficulty and the lack of clarity on the project that he recommended that the project should not be accepted.  Although the employee attempted to explain the supporting evidence for his decision, the manager responded that the employee had not spent enough time researching the project and that he would do the research himself.  The manager took two days to research the project and forwarded the research data to the employee late in the evening on the day before a scheduled call with the client. During the call, the client struggled to answer any questions brought up by the manager or employee and was unsure on what approach should be taken to resolve the issue. The client then asked if the organization would be willing to send a proposal and take on this project. The manager eventually agreed to accept the work and send a proposal…against the recommendation of the employee. The manager told the employee to generate a proposal that included a quote for a two weeks feasibility study.  The feasibility study gave the agency a reason to back out of the project if it proved to be too difficult.  The manager told the employee to tell the client that the agency couldn’t start work for at least a couple of weeks…hoping that the client would find somebody else to work on it. The employee reluctantly did was he was instructed. The feasibility study was conducted and it was determined that the project was beyond existing technology to complete. 

 How often do situations like this occur? Unfortunately, more often than some would like to admit. Events like this result in wasted time, energy, productivity, and trust. Some managers may say they want to build an empowered work force, but get in the way of their own best intentions.  So how can they create an environment of trust…one that fosters empowerment?  They must demonstrate trust for their staff and be trustworthy themselves.  Blanchard’s Building Trust program illustrates for us what a trustful environment looks like by teaching us exactly which behaviors build trust using the ABCD Model. The model guides individuals to identify aspects of their relationships that need repair, as in the example above, or need to be further nurtured in order to build and maintain trust. 

Are you currently experiencing a lack of trust with one of your co-workers, managers, or direct reports? Learn how you can utilize the ABCD Trust Model within your agency.

, ,

1 Comment

%d bloggers like this: