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Modern Government Management Traits

Posted Jul 29, 2015

Time to give Federal Supervisors a breath of fresh air

By Renee Singleton, PMC Fellow Cohort 8, PIC


The Performance Improvement Council (PIC) is partnering with Agencies to pilot a version of Google's Project Oxygen tailored for Federal Government and designed to strengthen employee engagement.  The Modern Government Management Traits Initiative (aka MGMT) was created by a member of the Federal Performance community and inspired by Google’s Project Oxygen case study, which identified traits of excellent managers that are universal – coaching, communications, and vision, just to name a few. 


Of course the federal government is not Google, and Google is not the government.  Translating those traits into actions that are authentic to federal managers and federal employees was a journey that involved many different federal agencies and federal employees. The PIC held innovation design sessions with participants from HR divisions, performance divisions, and people who were identified by their own employees as good federal managers in approximately 15 different agencies.  The groups, which included managers, staff, new federal employees, and those nearing retirement, developed customizable action items that any federal manager can put into practice.  


MGMT was introduced early this spring to the Federal community as an approach for Federal agencies to improve employee engagement, including Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey scores, while developing managers and supervisors in the process.  MGMT is customizable to meet diverse agencies’ needs and culture.  Just like the Google case study, MGMT has identified action oriented, focused techniques and tools for each trait which are available at no cost for Agencies to try.  If it works as well for government as it has for Google, over time supervisors that consistently apply these techniques will enhance their soft skills and become better managers and leaders, with the potential for real improvements in employee morale, productivity and individual/organization performance.


The PIC is now partnering with colleagues in OPM and the Chief Human Capital Officers Council (CHCOC) to support Agency participation in MGMT pilots. Justin Johnson, Executive Director of the CHCOC, is excited about the potential of the approach: “Research from Google proved what a lot of us intuitively believe:  those with the best people skills make the best managers.  Technical skills are important for relating to the work being done, but people skills are more important.  A lot of the management training provided in the government is interesting but leaves managers wondering what exactly they should do differently.  This pilot project focuses on clear actions that can improve employees' confidence in their managers in a measurable way.”  


Kate Josephs, Executive Director of the PIC, is equally excited; “The link between strong management practices, employee engagement and organizational performance is not just a matter of common sense; numerous studies have shown the real impact that a highly engaged workforce can have on organizational performance, so it made perfect sense for the PIC team to work on this innovative effort.  The Google Project highlighted that, above all else, people want a boss who listens, cares about their development and can lead a team to get the work done.  MGMT takes this compelling insight, adds a real understanding of the challenges Federal Managers face and equips them with simple, actionable tactics to do things differently. I look forward to seeing the results of Agency pilot projects.”


We always need more potential pilot partners.  If you are interested in participating in MGMT, it’s easy to get started. The PIC can help you customize a pilot, tools and services to meet your needs.   For more information contact