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

What Disengaged Employees Would Say to the Boss (If They Could Be Honest)

Let’s assume you’ve just received the results of your organization’s employee engagement survey. They were disappointing. Now you need to understand why so many of your employees feel disconnected so you can make changes that will boost their engagement.

Suppose you could hear the honest truth about what the people you are responsible for leading think you should do? Here’s what you would likely hear, if it was communicated through a wise and capable spokesperson.

Include us in goal setting. We see that you are motivated to succeed. You work hard to set our department’s annual goals and achieve them. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to engage us. We want you to include us in planning our department’s goals. Share what you have in mind in terms of goals for our department, and then have the humility to ask us what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing from your thinking. Listen to what we say, consider it and incorporate it before settling on our department’s annual goals. By doing this, you will receive the best thinking of all of us and we will feel a greater sense of ownership in...

The Discipline of High Performers

In an interview with author Tim Ferris (podcast and the book, Tools of Titans: the Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers), former Navy Seal Jocko Willink, describes his mantra as, “Discipline equals freedom.” He goes on to offer, “If you want freedom in life—be that financial freedom, more free time, or even freedom from sickness and poor health—you can only achieve these things through discipline.”

I may tattoo this on my forearm. I know this painfully well, but I don’t always live it.

It’s those periods of time where I relax my discipline that I flounder and spiral further into a morass of poor productivity and little output.

For me:

  • Writing requires discipline.
  • Marketing my services demands discipline.
  • Hitting the gym every single day takes discipline.
  • Eating properly requires incredible discipline.
  • Managing my sleep requires discipline.
  • Reading requires discipline.
  • Maintaining my personal/spiritual self demands discipline.

Not surprisingly, when I am hyper-attentive to all of these areas of my life, I succeed. Like a machine, the areas are inter-dependent. If one breaks down, the rest creak and groan and grind to a halt. When that happens, I need to pick one area...

How Trump Could Advance Federal Cybersecurity

The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in the spring of 2015 was breathtaking in scope—nearly 22 million sensitive personnel records stolen.  But this wasn’t a new issue.  There had been breaches at the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, even the National Security Agency.

But the OPM breach was clearly a turning point. It resulted in the removal of the agency head and CIO. While federal agencies have been subject to cybersecurity requirements since 2002 under the Federal Information Security Management Act and Congress has held periodic hearings excoriating agencies for not complying, compliance didn’t always translate into changes in government’s culture. This led to the enhancement and expansion of multiple efforts as reflected in the cross-agency priority goal for cybersecurity, which serves as launching point for the new Administration’s efforts.

Solid Groundwork

In 2013, the National Institute for Standards and Technology convened a forum to develop a risk management framework to strengthen cyber defenses. It was published in 2014 as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and is seen by many in government and industry as the cyber risk management “gold standard.” NIST continues to review potential updates to keep the Framework...

How Trump Can Avoid the Reorganization Trap His Predecessors Fell Into

Any day now, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would lay the groundwork for reorganizing the federal government. It’s a monumental undertaking, and one that could stumble on a fundamental flaw: The former businessman’s instinct is to view government vertically, with agencies and programs run from the top. But government’s biggest and toughest problems are horizontal—coordinating programs across government, and with nonprofits and private companies. As the last two administrations have learned the hard way, attacking horizontal problems with vertical strategies doesn’t work. It can also have disastrous political consequences.

The president wants to move fast, especially in reshaping the bureaucracy. This is a case, however, where charging too quickly down the wrong road can lead to disaster.

Most recent major reorganizations attempted by previous administrations, both Republican and Democratic, stalled out because they challenged the jurisdictions of Congressional committees. In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama said he was going to take on the 12 different agencies that dealt with exports and five other agencies responsible for housing policy. “Then there’s my favorite example,” he said. “The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they...

The Myth of the Alpha Leader is Destroying Our Relationships — At Work and At Home

According to a Fox News article written by Suzanne Venker, women’s achievements in the workplace are dooming their marriages. As women are increasingly “groomed to be leaders rather than to be wives, [they] become too much like men. They’re too competitive. Too masculine. Too alpha.” The author’s premise is that the husband is meant to be the alpha in the household, and cohabiting alphas are like “like two bulls hanging out in the same pen together.”

I take exception to this article, but not for the obvious reason. The contention that women’s success at work leads to marital dissolution is so laughably unsupported by facts that it’s hardly worth disputing. Divorce rates are strongly negatively correlated with women’s educational attainment and income level, as well as the rise of two-income families. While University of Chicago economists made a splash a few years back by reporting that marital satisfaction is diminished when wives earn more than husbands, a more up-to-date study paints a more nuanced picture: Unequal incomes are associated with marriage instability regardless of who earns more, but having a career decreases a woman’s probability of divorce by a whopping 25%. Equal-earning marriages...

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.