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Unlocking Federal Talent

The Office of Personnel Management has released a new data tool to the agencies called UnlockTalent.gov. I am excited about this powerful new interactive dashboard because I think it will help federal leaders foster a culture of excellence and high performance at each and every agency.

With UnlockTalent.gov, agency leaders can take advantage of the valuable information from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey and other HR resources, including Enterprise Human Resources Integration data. It will help them better understand the data and it will give them the extra support they need to create the most effective engagement programs for their employees.

The dashboard is exciting for another reason. It is one of the many ways we are working to meet the President’s Second Term Management Agenda goal of creating a culture of excellence and engagement, leading to higher performance.

There are some great features available as a part of the dashboard that makes it particularly helpful and unique. It is customized to each individual agency’s data with personalized pages. And when users sign in, they have access to five separate tabs: Agency Overview, HR Core Metrics, Employee Engagement, Global Satisfaction, and Community of Practice. Each tab ...

In Performance Reviews, Women are Criticized for Personality Rather Than Performance

There are countless explanations for the extreme paucity of women in the top ranks of companies, in technology and beyond. A study of performance reviews by linguist and Amazon executive Kieran Snyder for Fortune reveals that even in strongly positive reviews, women are much more likely to receive critical feedback. And the feedback is often about their personality, instead of the quality of their work to a truly disproportionate degree.

The reviews shared with Snyder by professionals were generally good, as they were provided voluntarily. But women’s reviews were much more likely to include critical wording:

The criticism was much more likely to include negative personality criticism, to give advice to be less assertive or bossy, and to include words like “abrasive”:

“Abrasive” was used 17 times to describe 13 different women. “Bossy,” “strident,” and “aggressive” make their appearance, and behavior is described as emotional and irrational. The word “aggressive” showed up three times in men’s reviews, but was listed as a positive in two of those instances. The gender of the manager giving the review didn’t make a difference.

Here’s an example of the kind of “constructive” feedback that a woman received in the sample ...

How Promises Work

Nicholas Epley recently made news when he paid commuters $5 to talk to a stranger on a Chicago train. The people were happier for having done it. But the point of his experiment was to shatter expectations. Most people presumed they would be happier sitting alone than talking to a stranger; but they were not. They also expected, on average, that fewer than half of their fellow passengers would be willing to talk with them. When people actually tried talking, though, no one was rebuffed.

Epley is a broad-shouldered professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He studies prosocial behavior in ways fascinating and a little unnervingly manipulative, of necessity. In a recent lecture he recounted that people tend to evaluate one another in two general dimensions: how interpersonally warm we seem to be, and how competent we seem to be. His latest work suggests that the way to deliver on both without going overboard on effort is to make promises.

In the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, Epley and Ayelet Gneezy at University of California at San Diego perform three experiments that explain why promises can be helpful in business, and in ...

4 Easy Steps to Boost Citizen Engagement

At the top of nearly every public sector organization’s priority list is how to better engage the citizens it serves. Boosting stakeholder engagement was rated the highest communications objective for 2014 among nearly 40 percent of government respondents in a survey by GovDelivery, a digital communications service provider.

Communications that can drive stakeholders to engage with an organization’s mission is a critical factor. This is the case regardless of the mission itself, whether an organization like the Federal Emergency Management Agency is trying to drive citizens to prepare for a natural disaster or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging people to get their flu shots.

GovDelivery has collected many valuable citizen engagement tips that apply to organizations of all sizes and across all levels of government and put together a checklist.  Here are four steps that can help your organization reach more people than ever before and drive those people to take action.

1. Step Back and Establish Goals

For the most successful communications, you and your team have to start by working backwards toward a goal. Think about the top one to three things you are trying to accomplish with your messages. Do you ...

Job Requirements Are Mostly Fiction and You Should Ignore Them

In job searches, people frequently look at the listed requirements, see a gap, and move on, fearing rejection and not wanting to waste the employer’s time and their own. They’re making a big mistake, and potentially holding their careers back. A job posting doesn’t describe a real person. It describes a fictional (and often unrealistic) ideal that companies don’t really expect to find.

“A lot of times when companies write job descriptions, they include everything that they dream of having,” Scott Purcell, a Silicon Valley-based technology recruiter at Jobspring Partners, tells Quartz. “It’s a list of things that they need, then things that they want to use in the future or are thinking about using. They put in everything that’s in their environment, every sort of technology.”

Hiring managers get overexcited and list too many things, even though only a few parts of the description are truly core. But the term “requirement” gets read very literally, and scares people off from jobs they could well get. Purcell actually doesn’t like to send specific job descriptions to clients for exactly that reason. The hiring process still is a very human one. Things like relationships ...