13 Leadership Tips from “Fed Coach” Tom Fox, Part 2

Last year, GovLoop hosted more than a half dozen online training events designed to help you advance your government career. In 2012, we’re kicking off another series of valuable events and programs that we hope will vault your career. The first one is coming up next Thursday and will be titled “Extreme Makeover: Government Resume Edition.” It will feature GovLoop’s two Rock Your Resume reviewers – Government Career Expert Camille Roberts and Paul Binkley, the Director of Career Services at The George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. Please click here to register for that event.

Last week, I posted Part 1 in a two-part series which shared some of the questions and answers that stemmed from one of our online sessions late last year with Tom Fox, the Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service and Washington Post “Federal Coach” columnist. Below is Part 2.

8. How can I inspire a staff person who is angry about not getting a promotion? I know he deserves it but I have no control over getting an upgrade during these hard fiscal times.

It can be difficult to motivate someone who — whether rightly or wrongly — has been passed over for a promotion. If you value this person as much as it sounds, you must be honest with him about the circumstances without blaming your senior leaders. In addition, you might find other avenues for rewarding his effort. Could you help him find a senior leader mentor in your agency? Could you identify a conference or other training opportunity? Could you provide him more flexibiltiy on the job? Talk with your employee about what motivates him beyond the promotion and then make every effort to find at least one positive step you can take to demonstrate your commitment and appreciation.

9. Is the 360 a useful way to get feedback from your team when tying to develop your skills as a manager/supervisor?

While there are varying schools of thought about the utility of 360 degree surveys — anonymous surveys of your supervisor, peers and direct reports — I happen to be a fan both in theory and in practice. They key, however, is in the coaching that supports any 360. If you’re interested in this approach, be sure to pick the right tool and ensure that you have a debrief with a professional coach to ensure that you hear the feedback and develop an appropriate set of next steps.

10. Is it possible to teach targeted leadership skills to managers using 1-hour webinars like this one? Are there good examples of content?

Teaching targeted leadership skills to managers using one-hour webinars is difficult, but not impossible. Your best bet using this approach would be to pick very specific topics that can be covered in the course of 60 minutes. In all of our benchmarking, Procter and Gamble did this better than anyone else I’ve seen.

11. How do you help leaders understand the role of building commitment through building their own trustworthiness? (Covey’s “Speed of Trust”)

Trust is perhaps the most important, and the most difficult, topics for any leader. If a leader does not understand that trust is essential to effective leadership, perhaps your best opportunity for making that case is through demonstrating that there’s an impact in your team’s performance. You might use an employee survey, you team’s performance review cycle, or employee performance review cycles as opportunities to surface the issue and demonstrate that the team could be performing better if you enhanced trust among the team. Just be sure to have some solutions if you raise the challenge.

12. Since government has all these surveys they ask employees to participate in why dont they (OPM) allow employees to evaluate their leaders to determine where gaps and other issues maybe with managers/supervisors?

OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey does a great job of looking below the surface at some of the strategic leadership and management challenges within each federal agency. If you hope to get to a more tactical level, OPM and other private sector organizations like the Hay Group offer surveys that surface specific challenges for individual teams and leaders.

13. What is the best way to find out about the culture of various agencies that you might be best suited for…especially if you already a federal employee and would like to find other professionally satisfying opportunities?

The best way to assess an agency’s culture is through the Partnership’s very own Best Places to Work in the Federal Government rankings at www.bestplacestowork.org. We analyze OPM’s Federal Employee Viewpoint survey in such a way that you can examine several different drivers (e.g., leadership, work-life balance) and demographic perspectives to assess whether an agency may be the right place for you.

14. When it appears that a team leader may be manipulating the team to push forth their own agenda, how do you re-focus the team?

Keeping a team focused on your goals, despite the negative influence of a team leader, is exceptionally difficult. If you can help your team jointly define and share a set of objective (i.e., as objective as is possible) performance goals, you might be able to shift attention away from one individual’s benefit back to the benefit of the team.

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