FedCoach Q&A: What's the best way to reward federal employees?
This week's questions come from federal managers at the U.S. Departments of Education and Health & Human Services. Please continue sharing your ideas and questions by leaving a comment or emailing me at email@example.com.
What are some best practices on how to recognize and reward employees? Our agency got clobbered on this on the Federal Employee Viewpoint survey, so we're looking for ideas. -Federal manager (GS-14) at the U.S. Department of Education
Now is the perfect time to examine your agency's approach to recognizing and rewarding your employees. With public perceptions of federal employees on the decline (along with federal budgets), federal managers need to get back to basics and think creatively.
Start by examining the core principles of your recognition and rewards programs. The best programs: (1) recognize results that align with the agency's goals; (2) clearly define the results required to receive an award; (3) allow any employee an opportunity to receive recognition, but the rewards only go to those who truly excel; (4) honor teams as well as individuals; and (5) offer a variety of rewards reflecting what people really value, such as an award, cash or time off.
Next, consider what these principles look like in practice. Typically, they've taken the form of annual agency-wide awards programs, spot awards such as cash or vacation time, and then perhaps team-based awards. I have seen them used to great effect in agencies carefully following the principles listed above. In other agencies, the programs fall flat because employees feel like they're torn from a paint-by-number approach.
If your agency is struggling, now's the time to get creative; but don't feel as though you need to do this alone. Consider enlisting representatives from a cross-section of your agency to help update your recognition and awards programs. This could include a short survey, a focus group or a rapid-fire brainstorm to help provide you with those creative ideas.
Some of the best ideas that I've seen in federal agencies involve the use of peer awards. Whether cash-based or kitsch-based (like an ugly trophy), peer-based awards are gaining in popularity, because your colleagues' views are often times the most valuable.
Are there networks for leaders in government to reach out to other leaders to collaborate? -Federal manager (GS-15) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research
There are plenty of networks for government leaders, but the opportunities for collaboration vary widely depending upon the type of collaboration you're after. There are some incredibly active, collaborative official leadership networks across our government. Some of the best ones are those that develop organically around critically important, government-wide goals.
Let's start with the official channels. If you want to collaborate with other agencies around programmatic best practices, look to official, online channels like the Office of Management and Budget's MAX Information System. This system is designed to collect, validate, analyze, model and publish information related to government-wide best practices and activities relevant to specific types of functions and programs within federal agencies.
If you want to collaborate with other federal leaders around improving a specific function, use one of our government's officially sanctioned communities like the Chief Information Officers (CIO) Council. The CIO Council performs a diverse range of activities, from promoting information-sharing across government to explaining the strategic and effective use of IT to serve and protect Americans. And there are many more based on your function--from chief human capital officers to performance improvement officers.
Some of the best collaborative networks I've seen emerge when federal employees find and establish their own networks around their work priorities. Don't be afraid to search for your counterparts in other federal agencies. Go ahead and call or email to make the connection. The book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi offers concrete suggestions on how to establish a network.
You're right to be focused on building collaborative networks. The government reorganization mentioned in President Obama's State of the Union will require that every federal employee build and develop new relationships to work together effectively around achieving our nation's goals.
Government leaders, nominate your outstanding federal employees for the tenth annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal (Sammies)! Considered the "Oscars of Washington," the Sammies are the most prestigious awards honoring our nation's public servants. Nominations are accepted at servicetoamericamedals.org through January 31, 2011.
January 28, 2011; 10:10 AM ET |
Ask the Federal Coach
Save & Share:
Previous: 'I'm like a mayor of a medium-sized city': An interview with IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman | Next: Spurring innovation in your government agency
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Larry1950 | February 3, 2011 2:52 PM
Posted by: CharlesMartel2 | February 2, 2011 3:12 PM
Posted by: katbat | February 2, 2011 7:41 AM
Posted by: adrienne_najjar | January 31, 2011 10:43 AM
Posted by: Viewpoint2 | January 31, 2011 9:33 AM
Posted by: c0lnag0 | January 31, 2011 2:03 AM
Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | January 30, 2011 10:49 AM
Posted by: slamming | January 30, 2011 9:55 AM
Posted by: wkcc36 | January 30, 2011 8:49 AM
Posted by: 1911a1 | January 30, 2011 6:28 AM
Posted by: AdventurerVA | January 30, 2011 12:07 AM
Posted by: txengr | January 29, 2011 11:30 PM
Posted by: txengr | January 29, 2011 11:29 PM
Posted by: BobNH | January 29, 2011 9:31 PM
Posted by: c0lnag0 | January 29, 2011 1:17 PM
Posted by: slamming | January 29, 2011 10:04 AM