February 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm #153216
I am really excited about FederalNewsRadio’s new “Managing Morale” Feature. Julia Ziegler’s column announcing the results of a recent survey of Federal employee morale is very revealing. Also, OPM Director John Berry’s column is very inspirational. Julia Ziegler lists the biggest “morale killers” (e.g., pay freeze, fed bashing, ineffective managers, etc.). The problem is that we have a lot of data listing our faults (e.g., exit surveys, annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, focus groups, etc.), but very few solutions to strengthen our resilience, increase engagement, and improve morale.
My question to you is, given our limited budget, dim prospects for better pay and benefits, how can we improve morale?
What can we do to improve morale, engagement, and resilience among Federal employees?
February 15, 2012 at 2:34 pm #153226
I’ll start off. Since I’m a work-life professional, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend that agencies examine their work-life program portfolio, using the structure of WorldatWork’s newly revised Work-Life Effectiveness model(below). My guess is that most agencies have room for improvement in one of these seven areas, all of which impact the morale and engagement of staff. Use this portfolio to evaluate your agency’s work-life program.
February 15, 2012 at 4:00 pm #153224
Building morale requires trust between the players so, trust-building is really what needs to happen. For years, Federal employees have been down-sized, RIF’d, BRAC’d, and sold a case of snake oil; so, with an aging workforce still in place to effect morale, their points of view constantly bombard the “newbee Govies” who, in turn, catch the morale-infected virus as well.
HR Expect David Bowman described 5 Ways to Build and 5 Ways to Lose Trust in the Workplace. Focusing on the “build” mode, trust only grows where integrity is resident; and this MUST start at the top before it can move down and become part of the organizational culture. Unfortunately, Govies are bombarded daily by political rhetoric so, what’s really happening is that we are constantly learning about the half truths and unlikely chance that promises will be kept by the Administration and our legislators. Even if we focus more locally (i.e., internal to each of our Agencies), we always know that farther up the chain of authority, there are decision makers who have little concern over how their decisions will impact Federal employee morale.
That having been said, Cabinet/Agency-level Directors can still do better at communicating their organizational visions and values. And by “communication”, I also include the “do as I say AND as I do” communications that often speak louder than words!
Since trust is developed by INclusion rather than by operating in a vacuum, it’s important that organizational executives and seasoned Govies take EVERYONE into account on matters that impact the organization; if everyone’s voices is heard and TRULY considered (and that spans the range of employees from SES through WG, union and non-union, full-time and part-time, whether on permanent, term or temporary assignments) trust will grow. As Bowman suggests, management should not be aloof; leaders should seek and give credit to the opinions and ideas they receive from anyone on their staff, just knowing employee names and treating them with genuine respect (see: The Golden Rule) goes a long way, when it’s sincere.
Pulling together to work on shared goals, rather than having employees entertain the ever-so-present personal agendas, goes a long way toward building trust as well. As the author points out, “This is the essence of teamwork. When a team really works, the players trust one another”.
And last, but certainly the foremost action needed right now is that Appointees, Senior Executives, Managers, Supervisors, AND worker-bees must ALL do what’s right, regardless of the risk to one’s self. Hopefully, we learned “right” from “wrong” in our formative years so one need only call on that instinct to figure out the right path, even if it’s the one that presents the most resistence. Doing what’s easy isn’t always the best choice but doing the “right” thing for one’s employees will nearly always earn the respect of those around us.
February 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm #153222
Very valid point Doris – I highly recommend the new book “Smart Trust” that covers this topic quite nicely.
Also, Julie at FedNewsRadio just published a new column today about how the military gets motivated. Robin Wink makes some good points, including the emphasis on formal training, unit ceremonies, and day-to-day emphasis on leadersip. I highly recommend this article. As a former Marine, I can attest to the positive impact of all three of these on morale. Semper Fi!
February 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm #153220
I feel like a broken record, but Julie Ziegler at FedNewsRadio has published another great article today on “How to Get the Morale Mojo Back in Your Federal Office.” This includes a podcast interview with Michael Cane, the CHCO of the Department of Energy. Check it out!
Here are the Quick Tips from the article:
Quick Tips for Motivating Your Workforce:
•Set expectations and goals.
•Set the example. Managers must be motivated too.
•Find ways to show your appreciation. Something small can go a long way.
•Make work meaningful.
•Be fair with pay, benefits, and opportunities for employees.
•May room for growth, ideas, and creativity.
•Communicate and listen to employees.
•Be open and honest.
February 17, 2012 at 2:25 pm #153218
If a manager believes that morale is something you work on at key moments, and NOT something you contribute to each and every day, then I suspect they probably don’t really understand what “morale” is.
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