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A Key Ingredient Behind Government Employee Satisfaction

Measuring leadership — and identifying federal agencies that breed effective leaders–has rarely been a simple undertaking.

While the the Office of Personnel Management‘s 2011 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey captures a surprisingly comprehensive view on the state of leadership at various federal agencies, finding actionable measures of leadership at work remains an elusive science.

That’s one of the values of the Best Places to Work in the Federal Government study produced by the Partnership for Public Service, which provides a deeper perspective on what employees seem to be saying in their survey results.

One piece of analysis that is relevant to virtually all employees who find themselves leading others is a set of findings in the Best Places to Work study which looks at employee satisfaction compared to how well employees are aligned with management’s perspective on key workplace issues.

As the chart below shows, there is a wide disparity from agency to agency between employee satisfaction and managerial alignment.

The chart sorts agencies into four groups:

More Aligned / More Satisfied
Agencies in this group have Best Places to Work index scores that exceed government-wide norms, as well as greater-than-normal alignment between staff and managers on key workforce issues.

Less Aligned / More Satisfied
Agencies in this group have Best Places to Work index scores that exceed government-wide norms, but less-than-normal alignment between staff and managers on key workforce issues.

More Aligned / Less Satisfied
Agencies in this group have Best Places to Work index scores that fall short of government-wide norms, but greater-than-normal alignment between managers and staff on key workforce issues.

Less Aligned / Less Satisfied
Agencies in this group have Best Places to Work index scores that fall short of government-wide norms, as well as less-than-normal alignment between staff and managers on key workforce issues.

If managers and staff do not agree on where the problems are, the chances that effective reforms can take place are likely to be undermined, making it much harder for talented individuals to succeed in their management role.

That’s all the more true at a time when getting diverse groups to collaborate in government has perhaps never been more important.

More on this analysis is available here.

Wyatt Kash is Managing Editor of AOL Government.

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Profile Photo Gordon Lee Salmon

Wyatt thanks for this useful data at the agency level. I wonder if there is a way to identify great leaders in the more aligned/more satisfied group and interview them as to how they got their results?

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Profile Photo Wyatt Kash

Gordon, here’s a start to your suggestion, courtesy of the folks at the Partnership for Public Service:

Our Best Places researcher suggests taking a look at PTO. They have one of the highest alignment scores of any agency (41 out of a possible 50 points — only two other agencies have a higher score of 42), and their alignment is no accident. As we mention in PTO’s profile, there was a major initiative to redesign the patent examination system. Instead of taking a top-down approach, Kappos used it as an opportunity to get everyone involved. As a result, everyone can feel empowered and share in the success. http://bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/analysis/profilesofmovers.php#PTO .

There are also two pieces of analysis on their site: specifically, the section on Understanding Staff/Manager Alignment http://www.bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/analysis/alignment.php and also the Profiles of Notable Movers, http://www.bestplacestowork.org/BPTW/analysis/profilesofmovers.php.

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