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Increase Your Mission Readiness with Deep Listening and the PMA Learning Agenda

Imagine a future where you, as a leader, have a continuous understanding of what is and isn’t working within your organization. You have a heightened ability to sense needs and listen to your people. This optimized awareness provides you with the correct data at the right time. You never have to worry about accessing information. 

In this future state, you catch problems early, noticing warning signs that your organization’s strategy may be short-sighted and require an update. You open ample opportunities for your workforce, frontlines to C-suite, to share actionable feedback data. Your employees actively explore insights and take action to improve what’s happening in your organization and with your customers. This creates an ongoing loop of learning and agile execution. You focus on your organization’s learning for strategic improvements. 

This future is here. It’s up to you whether you take advantage of it or not. Government agencies developed new ways of working due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Embracing new ways of doing business means continual evolution amidst ongoing uncertainty. To remain effective, leaders must continue to deeply sense, listen, learn, and build resiliency as a core to strategic and operations planning and performance improvement efforts. 

Integrating the PMA Learning Agenda is a smart way to reinforce your mission readiness and resilience in your planning and performance cycle. The President’s Learning Agenda dovetails with objectives laid out in the President’s Management Agenda and highlights three aims: learning, bridging silos, and catalyzing innovation beyond the Federal Government. 

Put People First: Reinforce a Focus on Learning

Employees make and maintain excellent public organizations. A focus on learning begins with people. Better understanding what approaches work for your people, why, and for whom specifically will strengthen how we support and enable our workforce.  A learning organization is resilient. Our agencies can better serve our American people when employees have what they need to deliver on their mission. A top priority to increase mission effectiveness is understanding what strategies improve retention, engagement, inclusion, belonging, and wellbeing among Federal employees while reducing burnout and attrition.

We can learn what approaches build a strong, empowered, and diverse cohort across the Federal Government employee lifecycle. For example, the pandemic has brought on many opportunities to increase employee engagement through upskilling. Understanding what interests your employees gives you a chance to increase your team’s effectiveness and boost morale. When we invest in people, we’ll see higher productivity and better public-facing customer experiences.

Strengthen Customer and Employee Experience: Bridge Silos

Significant advances in modernization and overarching technology connectivity are underway in many Federal agencies. Evidence shows that employees are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best when they are acknowledged at a workplace. Leadership agrees, with 70% believing a better employee experience can result in a better customer experience. Yet many agencies still face challenges around siloed data and operations within and across agencies. These silos impede progress on making government services work better for the people they’re actually meant to serve.

It’s not that Federal agencies lack employees who care about each other and their customers. The problem is that most people in an organization typically focus on just one part, perpetuating the organizational silos. The good news is that it’s possible to connect disjointed operations and eliminate departmental silos with a combined customer and employee experience data. 

When different teams can engage with data together, they can come together and collaborate more effectively. For example, when an agency can sync digital, strategy, and contact center operations — without customers and their issues falling through the cracks — you increase trust, increase the adoption of service offerings, and become more cost-efficient with taxpayer dollars. 

It Takes a Community: Catalyzing Innovation Beyond the Federal Government 

Most of the pressing issues of our time will require a whole of government and cross-industry approach to problem-solving. People who use government services, whether out of choice or compliance, report that processes are complicated, confusing, and time-consuming. Achieving one goal may require a customer to coordinate with disparate agencies or business units within an agency — teams that don’t typically coordinate or share data. 

When leaders invest in building and operationalizing an experience management system that scales and distributes insights across your entire organization, you empower employees to build a more connected and collaborative culture. When your agency is modeling this kind of connectivity, it makes it easier for you to work across agencies to increase impact for the nation. 

It will take all of us coming together to reimagine how the Federal Government delivers programs and services effectively to increase trust. For agencies to reduce the administrative burden in programs and services, leaders must use evidence to assess the effectiveness and rethink program goals. This is an opportunity to innovate how you gather, use, and share data to determine how experiences work for your customers — whether your employees or public customers. 

Putting people, customers, and employees at the center of this work motivates and inspires action. Elevate the human experience of government by putting people’s voices at the center of evidence building and more timely evaluation.

Nina Bianchi focuses on transformative culture experiences. She served as Chief of People and Culture at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and with the General Services Administration’s (GSA) IT Modernization Centers of Excellence (COE). As a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow (PIF) with the Biden Cancer Moonshot at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), she led collaborative work experiences to drive personalized patient experiences. Before serving in government, Nina led a social innovation consulting firm with a network of high-impact public-private partnerships. Her teams designed transformation solutions for city governments across the globe, philanthropy, nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies and institutions like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

This article originally appeared on October 7, 2022.

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