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Seeking Ambassadors of Performance and Results

Over the past two decades, the performance movement has made steady progress. It has resulted in a focus on results via strategic and annual operating plans, a supply of performance information to track progress of these plans, a demand for performance information through quarterly reviews of progress on priority goals and annual reviews of strategic objectives, and an infrastructure with chief operating officers and performance improvement officers.

The movement has even contributed to efforts to use analytics and evidence-based decision-making approaches, which a number of agencies are pioneering at all levels of government. But most of the progress has been in creating performance data, and the development of numerous collection and reporting processes.

The movement has not yet cracked the code on how to embed a performance and results orientation in the day-to-day operations of front-line and headquarters staff. There are isolated examples, such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which uses performance management approaches to handle its workloads. But this push for digestible information has led to a demand for new skills—and a need to change attitudes and behaviors of staff and managers, so they see data as a benefit, not a burden.

A recent IBM ...

Six Things You Can Do in 15 Minutes or Less to Be More Productive

I am naturally driven to push through a challenge. When my work to-do list looks like a mass of deadlines, I sacrifice many other important things for the sake of getting it all done. When I’m sick, tired, or unfocused I like to pretend I’m the Energizer Bunny, continuing to move ahead at all costs. Sound familiar to you?

This driven, move ahead, push-through-it-all way of being to make a deadline is where I live if I allow myself to run unchecked. I’ve learned that it doesn’t serve me well, and if I really want to focus and be productive over the long haul, I know I need to spend some time doing other things that will foster those qualities.

You might find it surprising that taking small amounts of time in nondeadline activities can create the conditions for you to concentrate better and get more done. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by the amount of time these activities “should” take, start with 15 minutes or less—daily if you can (or as needed).

Some ideas:

Meditate: Sitting still for the recommended 20 to 30 minutes can be difficult. Try smaller increments—even just 3 to 5 ...

All the Reasons Why Emotionally Intelligent People Are So Happy at Work

Let’s face it, happiness and work do not tend to go hand in hand. A 2013 Gallup study, which reported data from more than 180 million people, found that just 13% of us consider ourselves to be “happily engaged at work.”

Those who do rate themselves as happy are 36% more motivated, six times more energized, and twice as productive as their unhappy counterparts.

The good news is that just 50% of happiness is influenced by genetics—the rest is up to you.

When it comes to making yourself happy, you need to learn what works for you. Once you discover this, everything else tends to fall into place. And making yourself happy doesn’t just improve your performance; it’s also good for your health.

A critical skill set that happy people tend to have in common isemotional intelligence (EQ). At TalentSmart, we’ve tested the EQs of more than a million people and know what makes high EQ people tick. So, we went digging until we found 16 great ways that emotionally intelligent people create their own happiness at work.

1. Remember that you are in charge of your own happiness

You have two choices in ...

On the Use of Memes in Government Communication

We begin with the assumption that government communication should be as good or better than private sector communication, for three reasons:

  1. The public relies on the government as a trustworthy source of information.
  2. Many are misinformed or under-informed about what the government does and the services it offers.
  3. Trust in the government by the public is extraordinarily low.

This is not only a bad situation, it is a dangerous one. From that perspective, using the communication tools that are popular among ordinary citizens has the capacity to build trust. Whereas using highfalutin language -- the equivalent of standing on a soapbox and preaching -- builds mistrust.

Memes are a popular way to communicate in the age of social media. However, there are a couple of concerns that government rightfully has about them. This article aims to address them.

Issue #1: Copyright

A meme is a derivative work based on an original piece of art. At issue is whether the meme is a form of free speech, or an illegitimate commercialization of someone else’s work.

To make a determination about whether the use is OK, the courts apply the doctrine of “fair use.” They consider: “the purpose and character of the use ...

When Fatigue Boosts Creativity

Most people know, instinctively, whether they are morning people or evening people. Some are hit with a wave of dread whenever they hear a stranger’s iPhone clanging out the same ringtone as their morning alarm. Others can be found yawning into their second beer at 10 p.m. on a Friday. (For those who aren’t sure, countless online questionnaires can tell you whether you should be catching the worm or not.)

Our chronotypes are largely a function of when our bodies start and stop producing melatonin, the sleepiness hormone. Elementary and middle schoolers tend to be early risers, but productivity begins to shift to later in the day as people enter their teens and early 20s. Over time, the body slowly returns to its early-bird state. By the time we’re senior citizens, we’re back up and at Denny’s before 7. Most research suggests that people perform best on various tasks at their “optimal” time of day. The brain is sharper, it’s thought, when the body is fully awake.

But it turns out there are some tasks that benefit from a mind that’s slightly groggy. In 2011, Mareike Wieth, an associate professor of psychology ...