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Psychology Has Identified Three Mindsets Shared By People Who Follow Through on Goals

I’ve never been an athletic or active person. My entire history of sports involved one season of track in high school and a brief flirtation with what I thought was a yoga studio but turned out to be more of a cult. But then, in my mid-30s, I had two children and gained 30 pounds. I was suffering from chronic back pain, and I knew something needed to change.

There was just one problem: When it came down to it, I didn’t reallywant to exercise. When my husband suggested I take up running, I said I’d do it if—and only if—a bear was chasing me. And yet, last fall, I did both a half marathon and a triathlon for the first time. How did I evolve from a self-proclaimed couch potato to endurance athletics enthusiast? I learned how to change my attitude.

In my professional life, I work with schools to help struggling students re-engage with academics. One major focus is addressing students’ mindsets. According to the Chicago Consortium on School Reform (along with many other educational experts), three concepts influence whether students will persist when things get rough at school:

  1. The belief that...

Can Self-Managed Teams Work in Government?

Federal leaders are in a quandary about how to improve employees’ engagement on the job. But there are answers out there. Author Daniel Pink, in a 2009 best seller, Drive:  The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, says that focusing on three job elements is the secret to improving engagement: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

But what does “autonomy” look like in the real world? One answer is self-managed teams.  The concept has been around for decades, and there are success stories in the private sector.  In fact, it has been tried in the federal government, starting with some of the Bill Clinton Administration’s Reinvention Labs. More recently, The Office of Personnel Management piloted a Results-Only Work Environment in 2010 with 400 staff, but it faltered and was curtailed a couple years later.

The Obama Administration has also encouraged the creation of Innovation Labs, which a number of agencies have adopted, where employees have some degree of freedom. But can greater employee flexibility—which can create greater engagement and job satisfaction—actually work in government? Is this the secret to attracting millennials to public service?

In an article in the current issue of Harvard Business Review, a team of researchers...

WikiLeaks and the Crisis of Government Communication

"Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans have expressed trust in the federal government in every major national poll conducted since July 2007—the longest period of low trust in government in more than 50 years." --  Pew Research Center, Nov. 23, 2015

In the United States, federal government communicators have no shared professional standards of conduct, other than what they can piece together on their own.

This was one of the key findings of a groundbreaking study conducted by the Federal Communicators Network in 2016—the first-ever survey of federal communicators by federal communicators.

Out of 153 self-identified federal communicators who completed a small-scale survey administered by FCN:

  • Just 1 percent—2 people—agreed "a great deal" with the assertion that "communication professionals' roles and expectations are generally consistent across government."
  • They were more likely to strongly agree that individual performance expectations are clear (18 percent—27 people).
  • But then again, there was overwhelming disagreement that those expectations are appropriate (11 percent—17 people). 

(Click here to see the raw survey data in table format; look for question 5.)

If expectations are unclear it's because U.S. government information professionals utterly lack governmentwide standards and guidelines with which to do...

The Best Productivity System for Procrastinators

In an age where an overloaded schedule is a badge of honor, there’s no shortage of time-management apps and systems for the ambitious worker. But the classic Pomodoro Technique remains one of the most popular productivity options—and for good reason.

The Pomodoro Technique, designed by developer and entrepreneur Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s, is named after those cute tomato-shaped kitchen timers that start ticking with a twist of the top. (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato.) Initially, Cirillo created the system to help him get through the frustration of his low productivity at university. In the 1990s, the technique started to take off in professional teams, and more recently it’s become a popular personal productivity system as well.

But while the Pomodoro Technique has been vaunted in the pages of the New York Times and the Harvard Business Review, it’s not necessarily right for everyone. This article will break down the classic technique, and then explain how to adapt it to your personal working preferences.

To get started, all you need is a timer that can count down from 25 minutes. Then you just follow the next few steps:

  1. Choose a task (or a batch...

The Upcoming Presidential Transition: A Guide for Career Managers and Executives

The political party conventions are over and earlier this week the transition teams for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump moved into office space near the White House. Departmental briefings are underway in preparation for an orderly transfer of power to the 45th president of the United States, who will take office on Jan. 20, 2017.

Both parties are hoping for a smooth change in administrations under the Presidential Transitions Improvement Act of 2015, signed by President Obama in March, and the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010. The laws call for the current administration to begin planning for the transfer of power no later than six months prior to the swearing-in of the next president. The General Services Administration and the Office of Management and Budget play leading roles in coordinating transition briefings and logistics.

With the transition beginning to hit full stride, Government Executive is reprising a four-part guide for career managers and executives originally published in 2008. The guide was assembled by Alan Balutis, a former federal executive with more than 30 years of government experience. He guided three presidential transitions and seven secretarial transitions while serving in a senior leadership role at the Commerce Department. He also...

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