This is part two of a blog series focused on the importance on making the right IT deployment decisions to drive innovation, and focusing on connecting people to process while making IT investment decisions. Read part 1 here.
Improvements to government services are powered by these kinds of technology adoptions. But the element that we don’t give enough attention to is in regard to people. It’s people that are making the difference, making the right decisions and building more resilient communities.
South Carolina is a great example of the power of technology to transform a state agency. But the other half of the equation is people. People are needed to show leadership, buy-in and then turn a vision in action.
We hear it all the time about the importance of connecting people to process, but it’s much easier said than done. So what can government do? Especially in times of tight budgets and limited funding, how can you elevate your agency and empower employees? Here are three ideas:
1. Invest in People
People drive everything that government does. For government today, one of the preeminent challenges is how to retain top talent.
In order to do so, leaders have to be creative in how they invest in their top employees. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as just giving an employee a raise and bonus – and in many cases, government simply does not have the funds to compete with equivalent private sector positions. But as we have seen countless times, there are dozens of ways to invest outside of monetary compensation.
Good managers understand this dynamic, and adopt accordingly. Great managers are proactive in understanding this dynamic, and craft performance plans and strategies around investment in people. Have your top employee lead a team, give them challenging projects or set up a mentoring program to help collaboration across an agency, or have them host small roundtables – the options are endless for leaders. But the key is to tie these sessions to performance. Without tying investment to performance, you may not actually be encouraging a behavior; you might just end up simply delegating a task.
The benefit is that the public sector has plenty of large scale problems to tackle – the real challenge is putting your top employees in spots where they will excel, and not become disillusioned if they happen to fail. It’s up to you to know what that is, and keep them energized, challenged and motivated to keep making a difference in their role.
2. Tell Stories of Excellence
Some of my favorite days at GovLoop are when I do an interview with someone in government, hear an incredible story of innovation, and then get to go write it up in a GovLoop report. I love telling the powerful stories happening in government. Leadership needs to do the same. When you reduce your call volumes, deliver more benefits, sign up more users for a service and are working closer towards your mission, it helps to empower staff and see that their hard work is being recognized and worked. Find a platform to share these narratives and successes with others so that these powerful stories are being shared with everyone.
3. Build Your Technology Road Map
Your technology road map is essential. By promoting where you want to go, and what kind of agency you want to be, you can help show your team that change is on the way, and lead them towards a new way of thinking about technology and IT adoption. Today there are endless opportunities to adopt technology and transform your agency, but there are also always infinite ways to adopt the wrong solutions. By creating your road map, and reassessing it often, you can challenge your team to constantly innovate and work towards a vision of how your agency should run. Put you and your team in a constant state of beta, striving to reach and keep on pushing everyone to reach your mission.
These three elements are by no means an end all list of what to do and how to accelerate innovation. I’ve always believed that people know the right thing to do — and often do about 90% of everything right. The key is in that last 10%, and it’s a lot of small things that make a difference.
You’re in public service for a great reason, to build communities, protect our nation, and help provide a brighter and more promising future for our nation. So focus on that last 10%, and you’ll be well on your way to leading your agency towards excellence.
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