Focus on Performance to Drive Employee Engagement in Government

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Engagement

This is the second article in a four-part blog series by guest author Marnie E. Green (@MarnieGreen) – Principal Consultant at Management Education Group, Inc.

In this post, Marnie shares key strategies public sector agencies can use to drive up employee engagement.

According to the New York Times, the public sector has shrunk by 706,000 jobs, since the post-recession peak in April 2009. Agencies are seeking ways to provide needed services with a smaller workforce that may be less engaged than ever before.

In my last post I discussed the current state of employee morale and engagement in the public sector. Citing the results from a recent GOVERNING Exchange survey of state and local government respondents that showed employee morale and engagement has sharply declined in the past few years.

How does a government leader begin to re-enlist the hearts and minds of a workforce that is still reeling from several years of cutbacks and restructuring?

Seth Godin in his best-seller Tribes said, “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.”

To re-engage the public sector workforce, re-focus on what you are there for; increased levels of employee performance and morale will follow.

Four steps to an engaged, high-performing public sector workforce

Practically, there are a few steps you can take to shift your agency’s culture to one that is engagement-worthy.

  • Create a simple, easy-to-understand strategic plan. Whether led by policy-makers or led by management staff, a simple plan that defines where the organization is headed and why will give everyone on the team a common goal.
  • Ask employees to participate in future-related conversations. Engage employees in the discussion about organizational challenges, their aspirations, and the decisions needed to move the organization forward. The most ennobling plans are those in which we have a stake. In the development of your big picture plan, don’t forget to ask employees what they think.
  • Link day-to-day employee performance to the plan. Design performance feedback processes so that employees can see clearly how their work contributes to the bigger plan. The GOVERNING Exhange study referenced above noted that talent management systems help government organizations identify and foster top performance and future leaders. Simply, automating your talent processes can make it easier to drive the implementation of these critical efforts.
  • Reward contributions that support the plan. Recognition and compensation systems must be aligned with your overall vision. We now live in a world where there is increased scrutiny on public sector employee reward systems. Seize this opportunity to shift your pay and reward systems to one that supports your organization’s strategic focus.

In the next blog post, we’ll explore strategies for engaging employees in a conversation about the future. Check back to learn three simple tools you can use to enlist greater levels of support from employees.

Register now: Webinar: Employee Engagement in Government

On November 1st I’ll be leading a webinar on how to increase employee engagement in government. I invite you to register now to learn more.

About Marnie E. Green

Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Management Education Group, Inc. and author of Painless Performance Evaluations and the soon to be released book, Painless Performance Conversations (Wiley, 2013).

Green is the leading go-to expert on employee performance management practices in local government.

Webinar: Engaging Public Sector Employees in Uncertain Times


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