Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Managing Success

ARCHIVES

With the economy in a free fall and federal agencies set to spend billions of dollars in stimulus money to stop it, government is suddenly the hottest employer around. That makes a new guide to help applicants get hired by agencies and to teach them how to succeed once they get there, particularly timely.

In Managing Your Government Career: Success Strategies That Work (American Management Association, 2009) author Stewart Liff advises prospective federal employees to focus on the job and the career path that will bring them the most satisfaction -- and not to place too much emphasis on pay.

"I think people have to weigh pay in the context of their own core values," Liff said in an interview with Government Executive on Tuesday. "To some people, pay is everything. To other people, pay is part of an overall decision-making process. In my experience, people who just chased pay ended up in a job they were miserable in, and ended up returning to a different job."

Small differences in salary shouldn't tempt workers into roles they're not suited for, Liff cautioned, especially if it means moving from a rank-and-file job into management simply for a pay raise. In one of many anecdotes in the book, he recounted the experience of a colleague who served as an acting supervisor. During that time, she discovered she didn't like being in management. Her dilemma illustrates the danger of focusing your entire career path toward the goal of obtaining a single position, Liff said.

"You have to look at your career overall; you have to look at the big picture," he said. "I've seen people who spend so much time focusing on one job that they lose the big picture. They wait five, 10 years to get a job, and then find out it wasn't as great as they thought it would be."

Managing expectations is particularly important for private sector employees who head into government, their experience of the workplace shaped by performance-based pay, pressure imposed by the need to produce a profit, and freedom from federal regulations, Liff writes in the book. New employees will have to understand that they are operating in a different environment, Liff said in the interview, but agencies also should be prepared to harness the energy that former private sector employees bring with them, especially when they expect supervisors to reward strong performance and address underachievement.

"I think getting a greater bang for the buck per employee is one of the simplest ways to improve government," he said. "I think the systems in government are particularly good, but the implementation is particularly weak. Almost universally, people believe management does not hold employees accountable."

But Liff warned that simply saying you're rewarding the best performers isn't enough. In the book he cautions that supervisors who are embarrassed or challenged in public could use ratings systems to take revenge on employees who don't cultivate good relationships with them. Because of the risk of misuse of performance evaluations, Liff said supervisors and managers need to be held accountable as well.

"I'm a big believer in posting individual performance of employees, so people know how they do relative to other people, and so managers can't protect their favorites," he said. "What frustrates people, and what frustrates unions, is the sense that they're being treated unfairly."

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

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

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download

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