How Guilt Can Hold Back Good Employees

People with a tendency to feel guilty for disappointing their coworkers are among the most ethical and hard-working people to work with. However, these highly guilt-prone people may be the most reticent to enter into partnerships.

By understanding this phenomenon, managers can make the best decisions about team-building and increase productivity. (For more, click here.)

As a supervisor, how can you use the research discussed in this article to create effective workplace dynamics and increase productivity? As an employee, how can you put to use this research in your work life?

Reduce Your Stress In Two Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life, and plenty of money.  He even got along well with his in-laws!  So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time, no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished an hour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough, but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive. (For more, click here.)

Have you used any of these techniques to manage your stress? Will you put any of these into practice now, after reading this article?

How to Keep Work Stress from Taking Over Your Life

Unless you’re a robot, it’s all but impossible to avoid having work stress(don’t worry, robots, your time will come!). But it’s not impossible to avoid taking those feelings home with you at the end of the day. True leisure time, in which anxiety and frustration over work can be set aside until you’re next at the office, is essential to staying mentally in check. Here are five ways to keep work stress, rage, and anxiety where they belong. (For more, click here.)

Do you use any of these techniques? Which are you going to put into practice now?

When It Comes to Making Good Decisions, Bad Options Can Help

Think of the worst idea ever for a new business venture, one that is guaranteed to fail. Or try to imagine a truly terrible, good-for-nobody new government policy. Or even, as a class of grade school kids I know recently did, the worst idea for a birthday party. (For the record, some of those terrible party ideas included holding the event in a sewer, a joint birthday party/funeral, and, worst of all, a party with no cake.)

My guess is that this exercise, which I often run with my students and clients, was easier for you than it would have been had I asked you to come up with a great idea instead.

Many of us are in search of the elusive good idea … (For more, click here.)

Would you use this bad-ideas exercise? When and how would you do so?


I Do Solemnly Swear That I Will…

People in the private sector do not take an oath of office when they get a job. They get an offer, report to work, and that’s it.

For federal employees it is different. Reading so many articles about the inauguration that refer to the president-elect taking the oath of office on the 20th of January got me thinking about oaths and what they mean.

I have taken that oath of office as a civil service employee. Raising your right hand and swearing to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” is not something most people take lightly. It is a solemn oath and it means something to most people who take it.

The president becomes a federal employee by taking an oath prescribed by Article 2, Section 1, of the US Constitution. It says “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

 Judges, members of the House and Senate, political appointees, the military, and other federal employees take oaths of office that are required by Article VI of the Constitution, which says “The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” The Constitution does not prescribe the actual text of the Article VI oaths. For federal civil service employees, the oath is set forth by law in 5 U.S. Code § 3331, which reads as follows:
 “An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: “I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.””

The oath is relatively straightforward, but what does it mean? (For more, click here.)

Did any of the information in this article surprise you? Did it make you think any differently about your oath of office?


Tweets, Politics, and a Career as a Federal Employee

It’s a brave new world for federal employees and politicians. Before social media opened up the world to anyone with a computer, an internet connection and a political opinion, opinions were more often personal beliefs shared with a few friends and colleagues.

 Not that long ago, a federal employee telling a colleague over lunch he thinks the new president for whom he works is a facist would not create a problem. Who knows or cares what the employee thinks as long as he does a good job at work? The agency head or the White House would not know or care what a General Schedule employee working in a federal agency thinks about the president.

A federal employee sending out a tweet to thousands of people telling everyone he thinks the new president for whom he works is a facist is different. Welcome to federal employment in 2017.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a talent for making news. In the last couple of years, the issue was patient care, or the lack of it, in some VA facilities. The publicity led to legislation in Congress, appeals to the Merit Systems Protection Board, and some VA employees finding their photos in newspapers with unflattering articles.

 More recently, union activity at the VA has been an issue. It also led to bills being introduced to reduce the amount of official time being used by union officials at the same time patient care was being called into question in the national press.
 Tweeting by VA Employees

New publicity is now emerging on a different topic. The VA may be taking center stage again.

 How much criticism can a federal employee level at a president or an administration and still be retained as a federal employee? (For more, click here.)
What in this article made you “weigh [the] potential consequences against the satisfaction of expressing those opinions”? What will you think twice about the next time you open Twitter, Facebook, or another social media platform?

When No One Speaks the Truth at Work, You Face a Choice

I would be shocked if you couldn’t recall being in a meeting where someone in a position of authority uttered something so fantastically full of crap that you thought you might choke. I would be even more shocked if the general response of the individuals present in the meeting wasn’t aerobic head nodding. In general, people struggle to speak truth to power.

Accountability Without Authority

A client of mine described a situation where the overseas leader rolled out his latest mandate for safety. Henceforth, the safety manager at each location is to be responsible for all accidents. If there is an accident, the safety manager is to blame. My client asked about the authority and autonomy for the position. After a lot of double-talk, it turned out there was no … (For more, click here.)

Have you ever experienced this? How did it impact your organization’ s ability to accomplish its mission and your ability to successfully do your job?

The Case for Evidence in Government

Although the U.S. government presides over what collectively must be one of the world’s largest data repositories, its capacity to use that data to build citizen trust and make informed, evidence-based decisions is severely constrained. As explained in an enlightening report recently issued by the bipartisan Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking (CEP), the mere existence of data is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating empirical evidence to inform decisions throughout the full lifecycle of public programs—enactment, funding, operation, reform, termination.

The digitization of many facets of various activities the government funds through its $4 trillion annual budget has resulted in a data explosion at federal agencies. (For more, click here.)

How have you seen your organization move to an increased use of data to make decisions?


Want to Improve Government Customer Experience? Focus on Employee Morale

Federal efforts to improve agency interactions with citizens will fall short unless employees are fully invested in the process, understand the goals, have a say in how to make improvements and are rewarded for their work.

Recent studies of the private sector have found that employee engagement goes hand in hand with the quality of customer experience they provide. Federal leaders should focus on this connection, considering the government lags well behind the private sector on employee engagement, according to the Partnership for Public Service’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government analysis. This gap is making it harder for government to meet the rising expectations of citizens for fast, simple, user-friendly interactions.

In the public sector, research conducted by the National Center for Organization Development within the Department of Veterans Affairs found that… (For more, click here.)

Do you agree that the strategies listed in this article can lead to improved employee morale and citizen satisfaction? Which have you seen at your agency? Which do you wish you would see at your agency?

These Are the Skills You Should Learn that Will Pay Off Forever

The act of learning is every bit as important as what you learn. Believing that you can improve yourself and do things in the future that are beyond your current possibilities is exciting and fulfilling.

Still, your time is finite, and you should dedicate yourself to learning skills that will yield the greatest benefit. There are nine skills that I believe fit the bill because they never stop paying dividends. These are the skills that deliver the biggest payoff, both in terms of what they teach you and their tendency to keep the learning alive. (For more, click here.)

Do you agree with the author? Which skills would you add to the list? Which will you be working on over the next year?