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Federal Employees News Digest : April 8, 2013
April 8, 2013 Vol. 62, No. 36 3 Visit us on the internet at www.FederalDaily.com agreeing with the effectiveness of [agency] leadership." "We've all heard the phrase, 'You lost me at Hello,'" Dye said. "Here, it looks like we're losing [the approval of] people---for the first time more than 50 percent---and you know they'll be talking to more people, and maybe this is a troubling crossroads for us." pay freeze not a factor Dye acknowledged that the temptation is to see the drop as stemming in part from other, very real dents in the federal employ- ee's situation---with feds suffering a second year of pay freeze and some unfavorable (if unfair) press by the time the survey was conducted in 2012. Dye cautions that the problems leading to the decline in leader- ship approval are likely more specifically about just that: leadership. "A person gets a survey of, say, 80 or 100 questions. And there is probably what we call a 'halo effect'---when someone is asked about pay [in the same survey] that may creep over into answers about leadership," Dye acknowledged. "There is probably some of that here." "But when you look at this, one trou- bling finding is that there are 10 workplace categories," Dye continued. "And effective leadership is [ranked] lower than pay---so, people are thinking about their leaders, spe- cifically, when they answer those questions." Dye cites more evidence to support his sense that it is leadership, specifically--- and not spillover from the unhappy news about federal compensation---that is a big driver of employees' lowered opinion of those at the top of their agencies. In 2012, Dye explained, he found one thing that really stood out. "When you ask the Senior Executive Service the same questions and you compare the results to that of rank- and-file employees, there was a more than 20-point gap in their opinion [of them- selves]." Dye said. "The leaders are still feeling better about their leadership---and that may be a troubling issue here." Most tellingly, not all agencies saw their leaders' approval drop. "It's disingenuous to say, 'Here is the government average,' because only about two-thirds of the agencies num- bers dropped in their leadership scores--- while a third actually went up," Dye told FEND. "So, there are things that people are doing that are working, improving things." He cites NASA, which, with the retire- ment of the Space Shuttle, has lost much of its most visible, prime public purpose--- manned space flight. "The fact is that they are [still] No. 1, and that their scores have gone up in the midst of what is [vast] inter- nal change in the mission of their agency," Dye said. "There is something going on with their leadership that is doing some- thing right, and making sure that employ- ees understand what is going on and they reinforce that." "It's not only what you do, but it's the amount of attention, visibility and sustaining of communication from the top of an orga- nization that play a role in whether an orga- nization goes up or stays at the top," he said. Bottom line? Dropping employee opin- ion of leaders is not just a side effect of the pay freeze or sequester. Rather, it appears to be related to specific problems in agency leadership---problems that go beyond con- tinuing disappointment in pay and benefits. "If you look at what's really driving the drop, it's a combination of how people view their leaders in the roles that they should be serving---setting vision and direction, high standards for integrity, and empower- ment," Dye told FEND. But he said employees also need to remem- ber that there are two sides to the problem. "We don't want to let employees off the hook entirely, and say 'leaders should just do their job and everything would be OK,'" Dye said. "There's a responsibility, that any- body in an organization has, to improve things. There's a leadership imperative---but also an employee responsibility." Call to action The report's authors write that the first overall drop in leadership approval should be a "call to action." "Agency leaders at all levels need to be engaged in improving the workplace envi- ronment," the report says. "They need to undertake initiatives and learn from suc- cessful agencies how to strengthen the con- nection between employees and their work, motivate and empower workers and increase internal communications and feedback." "We have been talking recently about the 'doing more with less' theme," Dye told FEND. Dye said one way to do that is by engag- ing employees. Data show that engaged employees---employees in an organization with better leadership---will be able to "ride out" the current tough times better, with better productivity, he said. "To put it simply, those agencies that are going up in rank are actually doing something right," Dye told FEND. "And then they are communicating it. That is the difference." To see more, go to: www.ourpublicser- vice.org. STOCK Act could pose dangers, report says A congressionally chartered advisory group said a new online financial reporting requirement for federal executives could endanger national security, and urged Congress to suspend it. Congress had asked the National Academy of Public Administration to study the portion of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act that requires the financial information of members of the Senior Executive Service to be posted online, after concerns emerged that online release of that information could compromise executives' privacy and expose them to identity theft. In a 157-page report NAPA issued in response to that request, the group con- cluded that the online reporting require- ment will do little to remedy conflicts of interest, and in fact would endanger national security as well as federal execu- tives' individual privacy and security. NAPA advised Congress to suspend the requirement indefinitely. The study reported a broad consensus among the experts the panel surveyed con- cerning the act. The report notes: " ... when continued from page 1 Don’t miss our discussion of weekly news topics. Discuss these stories and more with your fellow federal workers at www.FederalSoup.com. continued on page 4
April 1, 2013
April 15, 2013