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Winning the Hearts and Minds of Government Employees

Here is part of an article I wrote on the above topic:

There are many things that management can do which will enable the top 10% to prevail, and more importantly, transform the employees into a workforce that is committed, not merely compliant. However, given the space limitations of this column, I’m going to focus on just two key areas: communication and reliability of systems implementation. I will address communication in this column and reliability of systems implementation in the next.


Everyone understands that communication is a key element within any organization, but few organizations seem to be good at it. For example, if employees are constantly caught off guard, or believe that management is not walking the talk, they are going to conclude that management cannot be trusted. Once this happens, the top 10% will become frustrated, the bottom 10% will gain credibility and the middle 80% will begin to act out of self-interest, rather than what is best for the organization, because they will believe that management is not being up front with them. Moreover, they will clam up and not share their concerns with management. Management will then have to act without having access to vital information — the perspective of the people who actually do the work.

Under this scenario, the employees will either mentally “check out” and/or turn to the union for advice, assistance and information. (Note: while there is nothing wrong with employees turning to their exclusive representatives, in healthy organizations employees should also be informally communicating with management on a variety of issues.) Management will then hear the employees’ perspective through grievances and complaints (EEO, unfair labor practice charges, etc.), which will in turn divert a large percentage of management’s time towards HRM issues. In the long run, this will only foster hard feelings, which will play right into the hands of the bottom 10%. Moreover, management will not be able to control the message they want to send to the troops, since voices that are likely to be more strident, such as the bottom 10%, the union or other forces, may start to control the sound byte.

The better approach is to: 1) effectively communicate with the employees in a variety of ways; and 2) use several feedback mechanisms to make sure that the proper message is being received. Let’s examine each method in more detail.

To read the entire article, click on the folloiwng link from OhMyGov.com:


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