Cultivating Leadership

By Julie Davidson

May 16, 2012

Source: Human Resource Executive Online

Even though federal-sector leadership scores are improving, more employee engagement is needed to prevent turnover. In particular, a recent report cites the inability of many managers to motivate worker commitment and creativity, encourage integrity, provide development or fairly manage people. 

As the saying goes, “employees don’t leave their jobs, they leave their bosses.”

And a new study by the Partnership for Public Service in Washington shows the federal government still has a lot of work to do to cultivate leaders who make employees want to stay.

Even though leadership scores based on the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey have been steadily increasing over the past few years, leadership is still one of the lowest ranked out of 10 workplace categories, the Partnership noted in its recently released study, The Federal Leadership Challenge .

“On the bad-news side … our government’s leaders, and in particular senior leaders, received low ratings from federal employees on a range of issues, including the ability to generate worker motivation and commitment, encourage integrity, manage people fairly and promote professional development, creativity and empowerment,” the report states.

“But, on the good-news front … while the leadership shortcomings pose challenges for our government, there is compelling evidence that dedicated efforts by senior management to engage employees, improve communications, and respond to their concerns can make a significant difference in the attitudes, job satisfaction and, ultimately, the performance of federal employees.”

Overall, federal employee satisfaction with their supervisors increased from 59 out of 100 in 2003 to 64 in 2010, and satisfaction with senior leaders has increased from 43 to 49 during the same time period.

When compared to the private sector, the largest gap relates to employee satisfaction with the information they receive from management about what’s going on in their organizations. Employees in the private sector also feel they are more involved in decisions affecting their work.

In order to turn things around, the report states, agencies can learn from experiences at the U.S. Mint, which was able to dramatically improve its leadership scores. That organization recorded a score of 69 out of 100 in 2011, up from 57 in 2010.

The improvement is the “result of a concerted effort by top management to increase communication with employees, to work more cooperatively with the unions and to more fully explain the challenges faced by the organization and the reasons why decisions were being made,” according to the report.

“Executives from the Mint said they have been empowering employees and giving them greater flexibility to do their jobs,” it stated. “They have held regular town hall meetings, and visited all of the Mint’s facilities outside Washington, D.C. to hear and respond to employee concerns.”



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