Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Convincing a cynical workforce that change is necessary

After years of being told to “do more with less” using the latest management fads – think Total Quality Management or Reinventing Government – how do you convince a cynical workforce that change is really necessary? -Federal Supervisor, U.S. Department of Education
To some public servants, the call to do even more with even less may sound all too familiar. It’s especially difficult if your employees see it as a call to work even harder to achieve the same results with fewer resources. The problem may be that they are working as hard as they can, and if so, we need to change what we ask of them.

Those who heard this same theme in the 1990s or in previous eras may be saying to themselves and their leaders, “We can wait this out. This will pass.”
Leaders and employees paying close attention to the debate about government performance, however, will note that this time the conversation and environment are significantly different than in previous cycles.
The political discourse today is reexamining the role and size of government. Fueling that conversation is a still fragile U.S. economy and a very real budget crisis. Some fundamental aspects of what government does and how it operates may be on the verge of change. Helping your employees deal with the new reality won’t be easy, but here are a few ideas you may want to consider:
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