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The Federal Coach

New Year's resolutions for the federal manager

'Tis the season to set some New Year's resolutions. Like many of you, I usually focus my resolutions around traditional topics like losing weight, getting fit, spending more time with family or helping others. No one can argue with those, but this year why not consider adding some management goals to your 2011 resolutions? I've added some professional goals to my resolution's list, and I encourage you to do the same.

Here are some professional goals to help you get the new year started:

Spend more time with your team. Time is our most precious resource, and among your many demands, it can be difficult to schedule the much needed one-on-one conversations with your employees. However, spending time with your team in the new year will be critical to maintaining employee engagement given all of the challenges confronting federal agencies in 2011. But, don't just promise you'll do it. Begin setting aside time--one hour a day, one hour a week--to ensure you can make good on your commitment.

Recognize your employees. In these times of growing anti-government sentiment, it's more important than ever to recognize the achievements and innovations of your top performers. Regularly let your employees know in the new year that they are appreciated for their performance and contributions to your agency's mission. And remember recognition doesn't always have to be in the form of a cash reward. A simple "thank you" for a job well done in a hand-written note can go a long way in helping to reinforce employee commitment and morale.

Stay positive. It's a tough time to be a federal manager with all of the speculation around budget cuts, pay freezes and furloughs. As a leader, you must confront the very real challenges facing your agency and make sure that you and your team focus on taking positive actions to address those challenges. When you hear folks taking a negative turn, redirect their conversations to emphasize what can be done.

Embrace innovation. The phrase "doing more with less" may be overused, but the challenge of meeting the public's expectations with declining budgets is the reality for most federal agencies. Don't think you need to solve all of your team's problems on your own. Engage your team to help you find solutions. One step you can take now is to avoid the use of the word "no" the next time someone brings you an idea. Rather, begin a dialogue. Ask: How would you measure the impact of this idea on the team or on our agency's results? Who else would we need to engage to make it happen? You never know where the conversation might lead.

Talk about results. Even though most federal employees are driven by mission above anything else, it's so easy to be consumed with the activities of our daily lives that we can sometimes miss the big picture. Now more than ever, it's critical that you spend time--perhaps at a monthly or quarterly all-hands meeting--measuring and monitoring your results as a team. Ask you team: How do those little things you do every day add up to improve the lives of Americans?

What professional New Year's resolutions do you hope to pursue in 2011? Please share your resolutions--or, if you're not yet a manager, your suggestions--for improving federal leadership in the new year by posting your comments online or sending an email to fedcoach@ourpublicservice.org.

And please check back on Wednesday, when I speak with Tim Sommella, president of Young Government Leaders. You can also receive a reminder by following us on Twitter @RPublicService.

By Tom Fox

 |  January 3, 2011; 9:27 AM ET |  Category:  Getting Ahead Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Federal coaching lessons: A Q&A with Felícita Solá-Carter | Next: Attracting a new generation to public service: Q&A with the head of Young Government Leaders


Please email us to report offensive comments.

No poor again in any circumstances and I wish good weather, the heaven like on the earth.

Posted by: andrebudianto | January 5, 2011 10:25 PM

to add to your first and last point- Help each indidividual find their strengths and passions and show him/her how their contribution can help achieve better results for nation/agency/themselves.

Posted by: omtrex | January 5, 2011 8:35 AM

I would add -- whatever you do, make sure you aren't making things worse. The management in my agency has succeeded in making the work environment significantly worse through an ill-advised redecoration project. The new decor is stressful and unpleasant to look at, and it creates eye strain and other difficulties for employees. They actually spent money to wreck the place, when they could have just left it alone. Before you even get to positive resolutions, be sure you aren't the person who starts something like that.

Posted by: MC15 | January 5, 2011 12:06 AM

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