Government Transformation Starts with You


Last week I had the opportunity to deliver the welcoming remarks at Human Capital Management Government (HCMG 2013), a premier Federal conference for HR practitioners that COE is proud to sponsor for the fifth year in a row. The message I most wanted to share with the leadership in attendance is the importance of resilience. It is a difficult time for federal employees, who are demotivated by budget cuts, hiring freezes, furloughs, and fragmented, partisan leadership. But now more than ever, federal employees need to recognize that the power to transform government isn’t in Congress or agency leadership, or the person in the cube next to you---the power is in you.

The key to an efficient, effective and credible government begins with the federal workforce. As Human Capital professionals we have a responsibility to create a workforce that is not only resilient but relentless in their pursuit of efficiency, effectiveness and economy in government. Here are ten things our human capital professionals should focus on to promote resiliency in our federal workforce:

  1. Strengthen Leadership. Prepare leaders to get our people ready for change. Make change a constant part of the culture.
  2. Improve Performance Management. We know how to measure metrics, but we are not good at creating a performance-based culture. Continue to become results oriented and drive culture, tweak processes and methods where required. DO NOT reward mediocre or poor performance. Identify, reward, and celebrate exemplar performers.
  3. Lean Forward and Strain Yourself. Lean forward means that you are part of the dialogue – you are questioning the status quo and being active in finding solutions. Strain yourself means that you lift yourself up, you move yourself to the next level, try new things, stretch your horizons.
  4. Engage employees. Connect them to the mission. Use them in a way that maximizes their potential versus treating them as a means to an end. Get them involved in task forces, improvement initiatives, and capture their ideas and experience.
  5. Challenge the Status Quo. Improve efficiency and effectiveness through transformation. Prioritize. Question everything.
  6. Prepare for the Future. Help the workforce evolve through meaningful and measurable training and then measure outcomes in the workplace. Think three years out and get staff prepared now.
  7. Prioritize your Mission: Focus on inherently governmental work. Beware of ceding work that should be done by the government to contractors due to hiring freezes. There is a reason why it is considered inherently governmental and it weakens the government in the long run to turn those tasks over to contractors.
  8. Work Smart- Automate processes to free up HR folks to be more strategic.
  9. Know Thyself. Build onboarding programs that establish the culture you want from the outset.
  10. Invest in Success: Celebrate what is working. Identify and develop champions for driving efficiency and effectiveness. Identify stars and invest in them.

My charge to you is to help your agency employees become more resilient. People are the instruments of change, which means the federal workforce is the impetus for government transformation. It's how we help. It's what we can do during this time.

Thanks to Human Capital Management Government for a great conference.

Keep checking the COE blog for more tools and tips for building the resilient workforce your agency needs to transform for the future. Follow us on Twitter.



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Steve Goodrich is the president and CEO of The Center for Organizational Excellence, Inc. (COE). He has over 35 years of leading organizations and advising top government and private sector leaders in organizational effectiveness strategies to improve performance and effectiveness. Steve’s passion for excellence is the foundation for creating and guiding COE to serve the American people and care about its clients, employees and partners. As a well-known thought leader, Steve is routinely sought out by organizations and federal thought leaders, including FedNewsRadio, to speak on effective ways to transform organizations. As part of his commitment to fundamentally changing government, Steve serves as a co-founder and vice chair of the Government Transformation Initiative (GTI). GTI’s primary focus is to support passage of legislation that establishes a non-partisan Federal Board to oversee and direct the transformation of federal government programs, functions and activities so they are more efficient, effective and economical. He has served on the White House Committee for Educational Reform, is currently the Vice Chair of the Association of Management Consulting Firms, and is often found on the speaking circuit.