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

Lead From Need: Four Ways to Motivate Employees

His CEO performance review is in and Scott is clearly alarmed. Unless next quarter’s KPI goals are met the governance committee will ask for his resignation. He grabs his phone and calls Jarin, his gregarious college roommate and the person who transformed Silicon Beach’s most dysfunctional company into one of its most electric. “Jarin, I need your help. My staff is not producing like they once were. They are lethargic, apathetic, unmotivated, dis…”

“Disengaged,” interjects Jarin. “So how are you keeping your people engaged?”

Scott: “We’ve been investing heavily into employee engagement programs, but they’re not really working. We keep pouring money into recruiting and retaining the best. We even keep increasing salaries, benefits and perks, basically giving them everything they want, but nothing’s working.”

Jarin: “The problem is you’re giving them what they think they want, but not what they really need. Your employees are emotionally detached; their real needs aren’t being met. Fat salaries and perks are great, but what they really want is to be inspired, connected and living a life of purpose. They need to feel valued. As their leader you need to lead from need. Once our basic...

America's Aging Population Is Bad News for Women's Careers

Giving moms and dads time off to bond with a new baby or take care of a sick child are the types of leave policies that get lots of attention and—relatively speaking—support. While childcare is obviously important, there’s a growing need for policies that help family caregivers in a broad spectrum of circumstances. And as the population ages, flexible benefits that allow workers to take time away to care for their aging parents and relatives will become more and more important.

While the need to lend a hand to a relative is nothing new, the sheer size of  the aging population presents a unique problem. By 2030, about 20 percent of the population will be senior citizens. And age-related infirmities can often come up suddenly—for instance a fall or a stroke—leaving families scrambling both financially and logistically.

Women make up the bulk of caretakers and even if they’re acting in an unofficial capacity, the requirements of caring for someone else can force many women to reduce their participation in the labor force. According to a recent report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women are nine times more likely to report working...

Why Recent Graduates Don't Negotiate

Graduation season—replete with lengthy ceremonies and their (sleep-inducing) commencement speakers—is in full swing. Across the country, recent grads have traded in their anxiety about getting their diplomas on time for new kind of stress: finding employment. And for the lucky ones who actually land a good job, new data suggests they’ll probably settle for far less money than they’re worth.  

A recent study by the online financial resource NerdWallet, in conjunction withLooksharp, a job-search tool, shows that fresh-out-of-college students tend to become quite shy when negotiating their first salaries. The survey—which reflects responses from 8,000 recent grads and 700 employers—was conducted over a three-year period starting in 2012. It found that 62 percent of recent graduates didn’t negotiate their salary at all even though 75 percent of employers said they had room to bump of their original offer—and even though “most of them” expected to do so. The data also showed disparities based on gender and college major.

Salary negotiation is tough for anyone, regardless of age. (The Atlantic even recently ran a Q&A with a hostage negotiator  for advice on navigating salary deliberations.) But these fears are particularly...

What Are Your Odds of Getting a Security Clearance?

Is it easy to get a security clearance? It depends on who you ask. Among the uncleared population there sometimes is a misperception that anyone can get a clearance, based on the millions of clearance-holders out there. In 2013, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper criticized the size of the cleared workforce in a memo that called for reducing the number of individuals with access to intelligence. Recently released figures show a 12 percent decline in the size of the cleared workforce.

Those who have gone through the security clearance process understand the significant headaches involved in both the initial background investigation as well as periodic reinvestigations. Obtaining a security clearance is no easy task, and not everyone who applies will be granted access.

The same ODNI report that outlined reductions in the cleared workforce provided insight into the rate of denials within the intelligence community, as well as the reasons behind significant delays in security clearance processing time.

The National Security Agency denied the most applicants–9.2 percent. The National Reconnaissance Office and the Central Intelligence Agency had the next greatest number of denials, at 7.4 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. These numbers might seem relatively...

4 Tips for Better One-on-One Meetings With Your Manager

Are you getting the most out of your one-on-one meetings with your boss? According to a recent study, about 73 percent of employees meet with their team leader at least once a month. That’s not a lot of face time, so be sure you make the most of this important interaction with the following tips:

Show Initiative

If you are thinking, “What one-on-one meeting? I’m lucky to see my boss at lunch in the cafeteria once a month,” then you have your work cut out for you. But just because there isn’t a consistent meeting time set up with your team leader doesn’t mean there can’t be. You’ll need to take the initiative and request that a meeting schedule be set. Most likely you’ll need to “sell” this a bit—be ready with reasons why it benefits your boss, such as quicker decision-making on his or her part, your improved productivity or heading off problems at the pass. You might think, “Why should I have to sell this? Isn’t it my boss’s job to stay in contact with me?” Yep, it sure is. But remember: Communication is a two-way street. If...