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Next Generation in Government Summit follow up

Getting the opportunity to participate in the Next Generation in Government Summit this past Tuesday was truly a honor. I am sure I speak for everyone who attended the event in thanking GovLoop and YGL for putting together something so fun and valuable! Working at the Partnership for Public Service and conducting interviews for my column on the Post gives me the pleasure of interacting with excellent and inspiring federal leaders – our government and country are in good hands!

In the Tuesday morning breakout session I talked with a group on the topic of “How to be a boss for the 1st time”. Here are the materials that I provided:

I. Slide Presentation: “I’m a Boss? How to be a boss for the 1st time” http://slidesha.re/b5852Q

II. Leadership Resources


· Becoming a Manager – Linda Hill

· What Got You Here Won’t Get You There – Marshall Goldsmith

· The One Minute Manager – Ken Blanchard


· Government Executive

· Fast Company

· Washington Post – Fed Page, Federal Eye, Federal Worker Page, On Leadership

· New York Times

· Harvard Business Review

· Fortune

Websites and Blogs

· Agency on-line learning sites and leadership blogs

· NextGov (http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/)

· GovLeaders (http://govleaders.org)

· Harvard Business Review Blogs (http://blogs.hbr.org/)

· The Federal Coach (http://views.washingtonpost.com/leadership/fedcoach/)

· The Partnership’s Daily Pipeline (http://www.ourpublicservice.org/)

Training Programs

· Partnership for Public Service – Center for Government Leadership (http://www.ourpublicservice.org/OPS/programs/cgl/)

· OPM Leadership Development Training (http://www.leadership.opm.gov/)

· Graduate School (http://www.graduateschool.edu/)

III. Performance and Feedback Coaching – Discussion Tool


Even under the best of circumstances, delivering performance feedback and coaching employees is difficult. When an employee is not performing – and defense mechanisms such as tears or anger emerge – it becomes nearly impossible. While the performance management system your office uses may provide a starting point for structuring feedback, it may not be sufficient to prepare you for the complete conversation needed.

This discussion tool provides you with an overview of the major topics that supervisors typically cover with employees, whether high- or low-performing. Each portion of the tool has two separate sets of questions: (1) questions that managers should answer in preparation for the discussion and (2) questions that managers can use to facilitate open discussions with employees.

This discussion tool was derived from a variety of resources, including the One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard and a Harvard Business School note by Linda Hill and John Gabarro.


Supervisors must prepare and provide coaching frequently to help employees take corrective actions throughout the year. As a supervisor, you may want to consider scheduling regular informal check-ins, “lessons learned” discussions following the completion of a major project, and formal performance discussions at least once prior to the annual review.

As a general rule, supervisors should spend at least twice the amount of time preparing to deliver feedback as they actually spend delivering the feedback (e.g., two hours preparing for a one-hour discussion). To gain a well-rounded understanding of an employee’s performance and uncover the root causes of performance issues, it is important to collect feedback from a number of people who work with the employee. You should also solicit feedback directly from the employee.

When preparing and delivering feedback, take the time to:

· Diagnose key performance themes
Is the employee still learning a task or are they operating at full performance? Is the employee motivated and committed?

· Identify examples that provide descriptive, results-oriented feedback

Here are some specific instances when I saw your best performance or opportunities to improve..

· Outline specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goals

How will you and the employee work together to improve performance? Does the employee need more direction (e.g.,planning, teaching, evaluating) or support (e.g.,listening, encouraging, facilitating problem-solving )?

Be certain to take notes so that you cover all of the necessary topics during the actual discussion.

Diagnose Performance Themes

Your job as supervisor is to provide honest and unbiased feedback. Therefore, you must not only identify strengths and weaknesses, but you must also identify the cause of any performance issue. To have a productive conversation, you must prepare for the meeting and give employees the opportunity to answer some questions during the discussion.

Key Questions for Preparation


· What are the employee’s strengths?

· Where should the employee improve?

· Is there really a performance issue, or is it a difference of style/preference?

· How often have you had to intervene in the employee’s area of responsibility? Why?

· To what extent are your own actions a source of the problem?

· Are these performance problems due to lack of motivation or ability?

· What strengths can you build upon to increase the employee’s effectiveness?

Key Questions for Employees


· How have you been doing? What do you consider to be your greatest achievement this year?

· What do you consider to be your strengths (e.g., those things you feel most comfortable completing with little direction)?

· What do you wish you had done better? Which aspects of the job are you still learning?

Provide Descriptive, Results-Oriented Feedback

As a supervisor, you must be prepared with descriptive, results-oriented feedback reinforced with specific illustrations. Concrete examples make positive feedback more meaningful and negative feedback more acceptable.

Key Preparation Questions


· Are the words that you plan to use to describe the employee’s performance specific and constructive, or are they vague and subjective?

· What should the employee keep doing?

· What should the employee stop doing?

· What are some specific examples of high performance? Poor performance?

· What are some specific alternative actions the employee should take to improve?

Key Employee Discussion Questions


· What should you continue doing? What additional support would help you be even more successful?

· What should you be doing differently?

· Would it be helpful if I provided additional direction?

· What effects have your actions had on your performance and that of the team?

· What are some alternative actions you could have taken?

· What might the outcomes have been in those circumstances?

Agree Upon Actions to Improve Performance

Receiving feedback, especially negative feedback, is not easy. To help employees accept the feedback and focus on improving, you should be prepared to have an open dialogue about how you and the organization can help the employee improve. As a supervisor, you must show a sincere interest in the employee’s immediate performance and career development. You must also be prepared to set out clear performance goals and monitor follow-through.

Key Preparation Questions


· What support or opportunities does the employee need to improve or continue growing?

· What can you do to help the employee? Does the employee need more support or direction?

· How does your performance affect the employee? How do you plan to change?

· What are some specific goals you would like the employee to work towards?

Key Employee Discussion Questions


· What would you like to hear me say at your next performance review?

· What would you like to be doing five years from now?

· How can we work together to achieve these goals? Do you need more direction or support? What would that look like to you?

· What is one thing that we can immediately begin working to address?

· How should we pursue this goal
(e.g., training, mentoring, rotations)?

· How will we measure progress?

· When should we expect improvement?

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Nichole Henley

Thanks for this post!!! I didn’t attend this event but wanted to —now I don’t have to worry about what I missed!!