Editor’s note: GovLoop interviewed current and former government employees about limiting beliefs they’ve seen throughout their careers in public service. Here’s an excerpt from that conversation in the words of one interviewee.
Blake Carlton is an Organizational Development and Effectiveness Specialist. He is experienced in process and operations improvement, training and development, innovation, and strategic thinking and planning, both domestically and internationally and across sectors and industries. He improves the outcomes of mission-driven organizations by analyzing their entire system, including their people, processes, and tools/technology and providing recommendations to relevant stakeholders and leadership.
Limiting belief: Scrutiny of team effectiveness might lead to changes that will make my job obsolete.
The reality: There’s the resistance, and I think fear of the unknown. Some people in the government, and even some of the managers, might not really fully understand tools like human-centered design, or they might not really be interested in sitting around for a couple of hours of brainstorming. They have enough on their plates, and they just want to get back to work.
How that fear is expressed: They might say this kind of thing doesn’t interest them. They don’t want to be put on the spot and asked questions about the work they do. There are a lot of different reasons why people might be resistant. Maybe they feel like they’re being investigated to a certain degree, exposed for whatever work they’re doing or not doing. Some people may just feel like this is a waste of time. They ask questions like, “Why are we always trying to innovate and change things? Let’s just stick with what we’ve got.”
Job security concerns: Then there are concerns that if we shake things up, jobs might become obsolete. For example, if we introduce robotic process automation into our work processes, they’re worried that they won’t have a job.
The right tool for the job: There are tons of tools that you can use as needed to drive change, such as Lean Six Sigma or Agile. But know how to utilize the circumstances that you’re in, consider the work you do, consider the people involved — a people, process and technology approach — and apply the right framework to the system that you’re dealing with. Use that approach to best understand how to go about making the changes, innovations and strategic thinking.
Explain the why: The why of change helps people understand why we do what we do and who that actually affects. And then maybe that helps us to be more efficient. It helps us to be more efficient because then we could cut out things that we’re doing that we haven’t realized we’re doing unnecessarily. But, also, it provides more clarity and empowerment to the staff members. If you have a sense of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, it gives you a bit more ownership over your day-to-day work.
Talking points to break through red tape
Identify wrong thinking: I’m a cog in a machine, and as part of my job, I just hit this button every day.
Reframe thinking: I hit this button and there’s a reason why I do it. I’m going to suggest to my boss that we hit this button in a different way because hitting it up here takes longer than if I hit it down here.
Result: Now you’re participating in the strategic planning of the whole group by making that one suggestion and fully understanding your role.
Be strategic: Be strategic about how you communicate and whom you’re communicating with. Set the stage ahead of time when sharing new ideas
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s new guide, “Agency of the Future: Common Misconceptions Holding You Back and How to Break Free.” Download the full guide here.