A few weeks ago we talked with Deloitte's Dan Helfrich about how feds view their leaders. To be frank, it isn't positive. Check out the recap here. So how do senior execs feel?
Deloitte and the Partnership for Public Service are back with another survey to answer that question. Helfrich is a Principal at Deloitte Consulting and the Leader of their Federal Human Capital Practice. He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that the SES is facing a number of unique challenges right now.
"There's no question there are lots of challenges to being in the SES right now. Leading organizations in times of uncertainty can be stressful and pressure filled, but what the data tells us is the overall satisfaction and engagement of SES'ers remains high. What's happened though is the gap between the way the average senior executive feels and how their employees feel is growing and that is a pretty significant concern," said Helfrich.
"If you dive into the data on things like performance based rewards and advancement, basically asking the question if you feel like the people that deserve it are the ones advancing - the gap between what the senior executives think and regular employees is a whopping 30%. When you have that degree of a gap it's a disconnect that has to be addressed," said Helfrich.
Why the Disconnect?
"The data doesn't suggest the reason behind the gap, but when I look at studies like this I try to correlate things together. When I see that the empowerment differences and the fairness differences are as broad as they are, I think there is a direct correlation between that and this performance based enhancement issue. It is a lesson and a message to leaders that across government performance management is a big deal. We've been saying this for a long time. There are some examples of progressive agency leaders (US Customs and Immigration), but they aren't numerous," said Helfrich.
Ask For Improvements
"Enrolling and asking employees about how the performance management process can be improved is key. You can talk about goal setting to coaching, to development, through rating distributions, to promotions. All of those things create a lot of anxiety in the employee base. I think there are some pretty easy ways to start that dialogue if you are a senior executive," said Helfrich.
Areas Where SES'ers and Feds Agree
- Work Life Balance: People across government think it is pretty hard to have a good work-life balance because of all the stressers.
- Gender Gap: There is not a lot of disparity between how female senior executives and how male senior executives feel. There are a few agencies with some gaps but overall it shows progress.
- Pay: Both the SES and employees generally don't feel that great about their pay. That's not a big surprise.
Does this Survey Matter?
"There is skepticism among the employees that the leaders care about the results of the survey. There is not a lot of confidence that leaders will do anything abou it. We've talked about transparent communication before, but there are a few easy things that leaders can and should to to take the results of the survey and talk about them," said Helfrich.
Why Rank Agencies?
"The notion of rankings do matter because they provide a relative basis of comparison both to each other and to prior years. The more we are able to quantitatively compare people, organizations and time the more we are able to have real conversations as opposed to anecdotal ones," said Helfrich.
How Do You Adress the Gaps?
"The biggest gaps are the most troubling and the easiest to address, things like empowerment and fairness. Those aren't the tangible things like compensation or training and development. These are cultural issues that leaders have a high ability to influence based on how they behave. The fact that the gap is widening is the biggest wakeup call here," said Helfrich.
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