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A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

How Managers Can Help Employees Hit By the OPM Breach

Many of your employees and contractors, as well as their families and friends, are probably upset to the point of distraction at the news that their personal information was stolen by hackers who breached databases at the Office of Personnel Management. They feel vulnerable, as they should. You can help them deal with their emotions by giving them facts and communicating steps they can take to minimize the effect of the hack.

At the Voice of America we have been offering one-hour seminars to inform employees about how they can protect themselves from identity theft. You should consider doing the same. There are many great free resources available to help you put on an informative seminar. One of the best is, which has a free PowerPoint presentation and many excellent documents on ID theft prevention. Among the things you can do:

  • Encourage employees to take advantage of the credit monitoring offered by through OPM. The company will notify them every time their credit report has been accessed. The sooner they know unauthorized access has taken place, the less time they will spend fighting identity theft.
  • Everyone should consider placing a freeze on their credit...

The Internet of Things: Is Your Agency Program Ready?

The Internet of Things is a phenomenon that will radically reshape our world. BI Intelligence estimates the number of smart devices connected to the Internet will triple within just a few years. As sensors and other devices are placed in everything from thermostats to watches to combine harvesters, the amount and quality of data will continue to explode. Very few parts of our world and in particular our government will remain unaffected. As a government leader, you need to understand these trends and adapt your strategy accordingly. Here are few things for you to consider on the plus and minus side.

The IoT will create:

New efficiencies. The IoT is producing vast amounts of new data and that data will allow for better, cheaper and more efficient solutions. For example, smart equipment in an ambulance will be able to automatically send data about a patient, determine which hospital is best equipped to deal with the emergency, and help that hospital prepare exactly what the patient needs before she arrives. This capability will lead to better care, more lives saved and lower costs.

More transparency. With new kinds of data and the ability to make sense of that data, the IoT...

Men Are Freezing Women Coworkers Out of the Workplace – Literally

It may be the dead of summer in the northern hemisphere right now, but the must-have clothing item for white collar women isn’t a breezy blouse and matching culottes. It’s a desk blanket. Female office workers around the world brace for hot weather by bundling up—even as their male colleagues type away in shirtsleeves.

There’s a simple reason: Office temperatures are designed for men.

A new study confirms that women’s body temperatures are much lower than the standard used to set air-conditioning levels, making women much more prone to feeling uncomfortably cold. The study was published online in Nature Climate Change (paywall).

Though the new research is based on a small sample size of 16 women, it replicates previous findings. One study found that the standard metabolic rate used to set office temperatures is as much as 35% higherthan the average female metabolic rate.

Others have shown that women feel comfortable with room temperatures of around 77°F, compared with men’s preference for less than 72°F. For comparison, the US government recommends office temperatures be between 69°F and 73°F (20.5°C to 22.8°C).

The discrepancy dates back...

How to Restore Public Trust in Government, Without Paying a Single Cent

More than three out of four Americans don't trust the federal government. In 2014, only 24 percent of Americans said they trusted the government to do what's right "always or most of the time." Sixty years ago, in 1964, that figure was more than 50 percentage points higher -- 77%. (Source: Pew Research Center, 2014)

Government leaders know that communication is a vital government function.

Recognizing this, nearly 20 years ago, in 1996, Vice President Al Gore formed the Federal Communicators Network.

"The Vice President's vision was to reach federal workers with important reinvention messages, promote a climate in which reinvention can flourish, and create a grass-roots demand to break down agency barriers to reinvention." (Source: National Partnership for Reinventing Government)

Unfortunately, however, the vice president's vision was not realized. In 2013, only 50.3 percent of the federal workforce was satisfied with the communication they receive from their leaders. They don't feel like they get enough information about:

  • Goals and priorities
  • News about their agency generally
  • Information about what's happening outside their immediate sphere of work

See the table below from the PPS showing the decline in employee satisfaction with leadership communication over just...

5 Leadership Behaviors to Move Up on Your List

Many leaders drive others harder than they need to. What results is a constant push for their team to achieve those goals. Meetings consist of checking the lists of things to be fixed and get done now.

Recently I listened with awe as leaders described a change of heart following my Coaching for Breakthrough Performance workshop, where we spent significant time on skills that build relationships. Many described their newfound recognition of moving relationship-building with their stakeholders higher on their priority list.

One poignant example came from a retail leader who told how her days are filled with meetings with store managers. Her normal way of operating is to walk into each store and make lists of problems and then spend her time with the managers telling them what they needed to fix. After the workshop, she committed to spending time in the following week just listening to the store managers.

Many leaders need to move these relationship-building behaviors up to the top of their priority list:

Listening: When I ask a leader’s stakeholders (especially direct reports) about opportunities for the leader’s improvement, I often hear “I don’t feel heard” -- even (especially) about well-respected seasoned leaders. Many...