'Trust element' critical in employee-manager relations, workplace innovation

Monday - 3/5/2012, 6:45pm EST

Paul Rowson, managing principal, Totally Engaged Workforce Solutions

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Paul Rowson, the managing principal of Totally Engaged Workforce Solutions, joined In Depth with Francis Rose for a far-reaching conversation about the federal workforce.

With much of the focus on reducing agency staffing levels, through buyouts, early retirements and attrition, agencies may find it hard to hold on to top talent. Rowson discussed best practices for developing succession planning.

Rowson also discussed recent news about the proposed changes to the Senior Executive Service after a report found that many of the government's top executives rarely change positions.

Rowson previously shared his tips for boosting performance for the Federal News Radio series, Managing Morale.

Managing motivation in the workplace requires two willing participants, he said: employee and manager.

"Any great work relationship is really fostered by a manager and an employee working very closely together," Rowson told In Depth. "The manager setting direction, setting goals; the employee being aligned around those goals, seeing a clear line of sight to the mission."

That "trust element" is critical for employee engagement.

"Without it being a two-way street, I just don't see any working relationship turning into something where innovation, creativity and morale is at enough of a level where you're getting results in your organization."

The overarching theme of his remarks, Rowson said, can be described as the "whittling away of the federal-sector value proposition."

Employees are constantly evaluating their jobs, Rowson said. "This is the parcel or the goods that I was sold: is it living up to that value proposition?"

Most employees can accept making sacrifices — if it's being asked of everyone, Rowson said.

"What's hard to accept is when you see things going on around you at work and outside work that make you feel as though you're being treated differently and unfairly," he added.

"That's when the value proposition of work gets tarnished," Rowson said. "That's when you lose morale, that's when you lose engagement and, once again, if you're more worried about what's not going well at work, you're certainly not working, and you're not being innovative and creative."

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