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The Five Factors That Drive Employee Satisfaction

In late April, government workers once again provided valuable insights into how they feel about their jobs, supervisors and senior leadership through the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The Office of Personnel Management will provide results on a rolling basis starting in August. 

OPM considers the survey a critical tool in assessing engagement in the workforce through the “consistent, reliable and actionable information it provides the federal government, each agency, and lower level offices within each organization,” according to Beth Cobert, OPM’s acting director, in a March memo announcing the survey.

Given the survey’s mixed results, OPM’s commitment is admirable. Last year, overall employee engagement rose a mere 1 percentage point, to 64 percent. Any increase in this year’s engagement score will need to triple that pace to reach the stated goal of 67 percent. That would be a tall order, especially when an agency like the Department of Homeland Security has seen engagement decline from 60 percent in 2011 to 53 percent last year.

To arrive at more definitive conclusions about this year’s findings, OPM significantly reduced the number of questions with an emphasis on “stronger, relevant and unambiguous questions.” Questions included: “How satisfied...

Your Subordinates Know More About You Than You Know

I know you only by the way you treat me, nothing else.

I'm not listening to most of what you say.

You asked me to find the core values brochure. It's in the closet, buried under pens and colored folders and paper clips.

Here's how I know what you care about (yes you, a representative of leadership): How. You. Act.

You don't know what I mean? You think you never see me?

I know you by:

  • The things other people say about you. Your reputation.
  • The way you choose to greet people in the hallway.
  • The way you talk about other people. 
  • The way you listen—or don't.
  • What you do in response to problems.
  • The way you show empathy to those in pain.
  • Your attitude to new ideas that are not yours.
  • The way you enforce the rules.
  • Whether you study a matter carefully, or are impulsive and just act out.
  • Who you give the microphone to, and where you shine your spotlight.

Yes, I know you. Every single day, I watch your values unfold.

And I am learning.

Copyright 2016 Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. The opinions expressed are her own, and the content...

Productivity Doesn’t Have to Stall During a Presidential Transition

Everyone knows administration transitions are complex – thousands of leaders move seats as the current administration exits office and the new one comes in, bringing in new policies and strategies aimed at meeting election promises. That complexity starts with the often long process of identifying the new leader. In fact, over 36 percent of political leadership positions were vacant at the end of the Obama administration’s first year. But even once someone is identified, the transition is far from over, as the leader needs to be brought up-to-speed on the team, operations and mission. And while transition teams are put in place to make the leader’s onboarding as efficient as possible, employees are often left to navigate the complexities of a new administration alone.

This transition time can have a significant impact on employee performance. Over the past two years, CEB has studied the impact of organizational change on the productivity of the workforce and found that change is not only hard to manage, but it can have a five percent negative impact on performance. Because of this, many private-and-public sector organizations choose to double-down on change management, emphasizing traditional techniques like building commitment or improving employee buy-in for...

What Silicon Valley Wants From Navy SEALs and Army Rangers: Leadership Lessons

In Silicon Valley, where rapid expansion plans for businesses abound, companies are desperate to hire managers who can lead small teams, make quick decisions, adapt easily to change, and stay calm in the face of stressful situations.

It turns out there’s a group of people trained for those exact purposes: the soldiers and sailors in the US military’s special operations forces. Veterans of these elite units—which include the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers —are now being groomed for careers in tech fields in increasing numbers, and finding homes at companies ranging from small startups to the likes of Google and Facebook.

“The biggest scarcity in the Valley is great leaders,” said Don Faul, the chief operating officer of Athos, a wearable technology company, and a former platoon commander in a Force Reconnaissance company, the Marine’s version of SEALs. “The Valley has started to really discover what a valuable asset they can be and what a great fit they are.”

The skills needed to succeed in the special operations forces translate particularly well to Silicon Valley, said Faul, 39, who took part in the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan before working at Google, Facebook, and Pinterest. “It...

If You Want Your Employees to Be More Productive, Get Rid of Their Chairs

If you’re looking for a simple way to be more productive at work, just stand up.

Productivity among employees with desks that allow them to stand or sit is 46% higher than that of their perennially seated peers, according to a study of call-center workers conducted by Texas A&M Health Science Center and published on May 24. The study looked at two types of call-center employees—health advisors and clinical advisors—and found that productivity increased among both over a six-month period. An employee’s productivity was measured by how many calls with clients they successfully completed per hour.

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The results piggyback on another study conducted among employees at the same call center over the same period, which found that after six months, 75% of those with access to standing desks reported a decrease in body discomfort. (The seated control group reported no change.) The researchers concede that there isn’t enough information to determine whether the increase in productivity is due to the decrease in discomfort, or vice versa, or if there’s simply a casual correlation.

While standing desks continue to...

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