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FCW : February 2013
Commentary | KRIS VAN RIPER AND CHRISTOPHER CATTIE KRIS VAN RIPER is a managing director and CHRISTOPHER CATTIE is an analyst at CEB. "Doing more with less" is beyond cliché at this point, but that s exact- ly the challenge agencies face this year given the austere conditions of the federal workplace, which include shrinking budgets, increas- ing workloads and hiring freezes. Along with those challenges, a recent study by CEB shows that government leaders believe they need an 18 percent productivity improvement in the performance of their employees to reach mission targets. Such goals can only be achieved with a new approach to enabling performance, one that focuses on employee productivity through col- laboration across networks rather than individual task completion. The traditional view of successful performance focuses on an employ- ee s ability to complete assignments inside his or her function and agen- cy, but that view no longer re ects the realities of how work is done. Today, mission goals are more complex, decisions are increas- ingly driven by data, and work ow requires more collaboration within and across agencies. Those changes require employees to have a broader perspective on their potential contribution to the enterprise by capitalizing on their "networks." CEB research shows that the importance of network per- formance on organizational success has doubled in the past 10 years. To achieve breakthrough gains in productivity, agencies must broaden their view and consider how they can manage employees to improve both individual task performance and network performance. In practice, effective network performers consistently demon- strate behaviors that contribute to their networks and bene t their individual performance, such as harnessing great ideas from other parts of the organization and applying them to one s own work; soliciting colleagues ideas and opinions; sharing insight, feedback and knowledge with co-workers; and proactively cultivating their net- works of contacts and contributing to others networks. For the best network perform- ers, those activities extend beyond direct managers and peers to employees across divisions and functions and even external part- ners. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of employees display high levels of network performance. To foster network performance, managers should take the following steps: • Encourage employees to focus on enterprise contribu- tions over individual tasks. By focusing on broader goals, man- agers would grant employees the exibility and autonomy to identify network solutions that maximize their impact on the enterprise. After observing such behaviors, manag- ers should reinforce them across the team through public recogni- tion and rewards. • Target network performance competencies. Some competen- cies are more indicative of network performance than others --- for example, teamwork, organizational awareness, self-awareness and in uence. Managers should com- municate the importance of those competencies and hold employees accountable for developing them. • Increase the size and quality of employee networks. The best network learning activities occur among individuals or groups that can mutually bene t from the col- laboration while offering relevant feedback and support. Managers can help employees identify those connections and cultivate rela- tionships by identifying informal leaders who can play a key role in advocating and teaching network performance behaviors and by helping employees understand the priorities and motivations of stakeholders. Only through a new perspective on network performance will agen- cies be able to achieve the produc- tivity ef ciencies they seek. ■ How to foster better performance The traditional view of success focuses on an employee s ability to complete assignments, but managers need to broaden that view to re ect changes in the workplace Government leaders believe they need an 18 percent productivity improvement to reach mission targets. February 2013 FCW.COM 11 |
March 15, 2013