Sunday, November 13, 2011

Can government work be cool?

Why is it we love our mailman and hate the DMV? Could it be your mailman’s autonomy makes them more customer-oriented or flexible?

What would you do if you were responsible for the work policies of the federal government and President Obama gave you the goal “to make government cool again by developing flexible, results-oriented Human Resource policies and working to change how Americans view their public servants“? That was exactly the assignment John Berry, United States Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) got in early 2010. His first strategy, was to make The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–292) a reality because it provided the authority to develop flexible policies, tools and training.

I heard about this charge and the progress being made by the Mr. Berry and explored their website ( The US government has collected many best practices used throughout industry for virtual work programs. It subscribes to the belief that successful virtual work is a “90% people challenge and 10% technology.” Written agreements, goal setting, frequent communication and strong performance management are cornerstones of the program.

How formal have you implemented your virtual work programs? Did you fundamentally change your leadership style to lead a virtual team?


Feyzan said...

Effective leadership communication and meaningful goal setting (short &long term) become even more important in virtual work groups.

I noticed that the OPM has rolled out training programs for all participants.

John Hunter said...

Telecommuting is simple. I was doing it 10 years ago as a federal employee. Obviously it doesn't work for all types of work. But the government tends to re-announce efforts they have announced many many many times before and expect people to see this is as something other than failure.

Yes, fine you can announce new improvements to a long existing strategy. The government often however, just re-announces the things they never implemented sensible the last 4 times they announced it and expect people to go along with the illusion of progress :-(

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