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Survey: Feds Beat Private Sector on Vision, Lag on Management

Survey: Feds Beat Private Sector on Vision, Lag on Management

Elizabeth Newell | Government Executive Magazine

October 05, 2009

“There’s a real opportunity here,” said McKinsey principal Eric Braverman. “What these federal managers are telling us really clearly is, ‘We understand what our leadership is asking us to do and we want to do it. We’re ready to do it.’ That is the clear message. At the same time, they’re also telling us they need some management practices to help them improve performance.”

In order to meet those performance improvement goals, McKinsey recommended agencies put into place a three-part action plan:

  • Engage employees to gain their input, earn their commitment and ensure an open and trusting environment. Only 29 percent of GS 12-15 managers reported that they were consulted on issues that affect them compared to 43 percent of the SES and 40 percent of private sector respondents.
  • Strengthen talent management practices. Only 29 percent of federal respondents said they get helpful coaching compared to 41 percent in the private sector.
  • Improve accountability measures. Only 38 percent of federal respondents reported their agencies hold challenging reviews to evaluate performance against plans compared to 56 percent in the private sector.

“Leaders who want to implement these recommendations will have to decide what to do first,” Braverman said. “What we find is there are some really specific things they can do — engage the workforce. They’re telling us very directly that their leaders can engage them because they want to get the work done. Let’s put in some really specific things to help drive accountability. Let’s create the talent practices that will help us be successful.”

The data also exposed a potential obstacle to reform — a gap in perception between senior executives and GS 12-15 managers. In each category, the SES respondents gave the government higher marks than the GS 12-15 respondents. Braverman said this indicates that leaders are going to have to consider how each initiative uniquely affects both groups.

“Clearly what they’re reporting is different experiences in an organization, so you’d want to customize how you roll out any given program to reflect their individual needs,” he said.

Click here for a full summary of the survey results


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