Communication key for managers during tough times

Thursday - 3/17/2011, 9:08am EDT

Susan Grundmann, chair, MSPB

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By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Communication and other best practices are key for managers to succeed in an environment of producing more with less, according to Susan Grundmann, chairwoman of the Merit Systems Protection Board.

"We are operating in two-week increments right now. It's very hard to plan," said Grundmann. "I know, internally, we've set a number of things aside not knowing what the future is going to have for us."

Grundmann spoke to the Federal Drive's Tom Temin about issues facing the MSPB and federal managers, in general, during the Federal Managers Association's annual convention.

One of the Board's functions is to produce reports for the administration and Congress on the health and well-being of employees. With controversy over the budget, pay and programs, Grundmann said there is a lot of uncertainty in the workplace right now. She offered advice for managers trying to keep their employees motivated.

"What they can do on a daily basis is to try to make work meaningful for themselves as well as for their employees," said Grundmann. "Again, reaching out to their employees, communicating with their employees, inspiring them where you can and understanding that their employees are suffering from the same anxiety that they have."

Within MSPB, Grundmann said managers are encouraged to establish relationships and know every employee.

"Managers should strive at least to develop some sort of relationship foundation with each employee," said Grundmann. "Know them by name, know what interests them, and know what inspires them so you can bring their talents into how to support the mission."

Training Programs

Grundmann tells Tom one of the other issues that came up repeatedly at this year's conference was training programs.

Computer-based training programs are becoming more popular, especially within larger agencies where face-to-face communication is more difficult. But, she cautioned, this type of training provides a less dynamic experience for federal employees and fosters less interaction. Grundmann said MSPB would like to consider lessons learned and return to a system where training is more interactive.

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

(Copyright 2011 by FederalNewsRadio.com. All Rights Reserved.)

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