Posts Tagged ‘government’

Rallying the Trades

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

People on the TV program “Dirty Jobs”  look like they are having such a good time.  They get constant feedback all day  – cleaning a cement truck, picking up roadkill, catching bloodworms – so they know how they’re doing without having to be told. Did you know some of these people are millionaires?

As we continue to have soaring unemployment and too many people without employable skills, we must re-think what we value in work. We need to maintain the infrastructure to maintain and grow the lifestyle we expect. In each episode of “Dirty Jobs,” Mike Rowe reminds us, “They do the kinds of jobs that make civilized life available for the rest of us.”

Mike has set out to address the nation’s aversion to hard work, the steady decline in the trades and the skilled labor shortage that is crippling this country. “We have become disconnected from how things got made, focusing more on how things get bought.”   His website,, has partnered with other organizations to promote skilled labor in an attempt to fix what he calls “America’s dysfunctional relationship with work.”  Not only is this a wonderfully fun website, there are thousands of links to resources, apprenticeships and scholarships across the country. Check out an interview with Mike Rowe.  See his testimony in Congress.

Plan B – 5 things to do if your office temporarily shuts down

Friday, April 1st, 2011

What are you doing as federal employees and all the contractors and others dependent on federal agencies anxiously await Congress to approve a budget?

I hear many are doing nothing at all; business as usual. Some don’t think it really will shut down. Others believe if they don’t plan for it, it won’t happen. And for some, their work isn’t the kind that can be adjusted.

If Leadership is in denial, then you can only plan  for yourself and your own career health. You can use the time for relaxation and rejuvenation. Some will get a few “honey-do’s” done.  But it’s also a prime opportunity to make some in-roads into managing your career.

Be aware (especially Teleworkers) if you find yourself with unplanned time off, you will not be able to use your work computer… for anything. The IT folks will be able to track your footprint.

1) Before you leave, print out your resume to refresh and  update so it’s ready when/if you should need it.

2) Participate a professional meeting that you might not have otherwise been able to attend

3) Take some free webinars or tutorials

4) Set up some coffee dates to maintain and expand your network

5)  GovLoop is encouraging and helping to coordinate a massive volunteering effort

So if there there isn’t a shut-down, stick to Plan A.  But if there is, don’t get caught empty-handed.

Under-qualified for the Job?

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

Can’t get promoted?

Tired of new hires that you have to train?

Does the next job in your career path, or in your organization, require skills or a degree you don’t have? Feeling stuck in dead-end job?

I’ve heard this frequently in both the public and private sectors.  Recently I’m hearing it loudly in agencies federal government.  Yet, agencies are desperate to move forward in reaching their vision an fulfilling their mission but don’t have the talent or skills in current workforce. Then there is the hiring process…but that’s a different discussion.

How do we bridge the gap? Both the organization and the individuals have the challenge and the responsibility.

Teaming with HR and subject matter experts, managers at various levels can identify and clearly describe the type of talent, skills they need today and going forward. It is more than just updating old job descriptions. It is a critical analysis based on bridging the gap between the present and future needs of the organization. The deliverable is a set of competencies [with examples of how demonstrated] relevant to various levels and skills/knowledge. Resources for developing those skills can be included. This is not just a training class, but looking at the variety of opportunities to be exposed to new ways of thinking, doing and solving problems.

Individuals can  read the job postings/descriptions. But more helpful is talking with others in the  role you want – both in your organization and in other organizations about what helps them be successful. It’s often more than just specific knowledge, but the ability to appropriately use and communicate it. Ask what helped them and resources they used to develop their skills. Many are low or no-cost. Others may be a hefty investment.

If an education degree/cert is needed, explore what components of that degree are valued Why a BS over a BA? For some hiring managers (HR) the degree shows a level of commitment and perseverance. Others look for the discipline, maturity, learning and thinking skills. For higher levels (Masters or PhD) it indicates discipline, commitment and depth of knowledge.  In some cases the educational experience indicates a status desired to effectively relate to key people (colleagues, customers, senior-levels, etc).

It is up to each of us to pay attention to how we need to either communicate the skills we have and are not using, or update our skills in a way that will help our organizations achieve their mission.

Activity, Efforts or Outcomes

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

A recently released report on successful government leaders [] lists several characteristics, one of which is “outcome oriented.” Leaders happen at every level of the organization- formal and informally.  As we diligently work to do the best we can, we also need to ask the question, “So What?”  This is one of the most powerful questions to help us see the impact of our toil.  It can bring us back from the frustration and chaos to focus on what’s important. “Is what I’m doing making a difference?”

Does compiling the number of people who attend a training class matter? Yes, if it is for compliance records.  But why does that record keeping matter? What is important is how the people use the skills and knowledge gained from the training. How do your specific programs and activities contribute to the overall, higher-level societal expectations?

Leaders with a results-oriented focus represents a fundamental shift in the way the public sector does business—a fundamental shift in the nature of think­ing, acting, and managing that moves away from a focus on process and regulations to a focus on out­comes and results. []

We need to understand the ‘why’, the purpose for the activity, and what end result is truly expected. Placing these in context of the mission of the organization, not just the statement-in-the-wall, but connecting with the deep core values of the people in the organization is a true leadership characteristic.