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FCW : September 30, 2013
Federal List 26 September 30, 2013 FCW.COM managers is that if you have different bars or hurdles that have to be met from different parts of the organiza- tion, you might not end up with the best ideas." It is not enough to be aware of this effect to counter it, he added, because psychological studies show that people nd it dif cult to adjust for biases even when they know about them. Instead, organizations should set up structures that adjust for man- ager favoritism and ensure that new ideas receive a fair evaluation. For instance, you could create a rst-stage evaluation that is always per- formed within the same workgroup or have headquarters employees do all the evaluations. Alternatively, you could put cross-agency teams in charge of evaluating ideas, as long as the teams contain representatives from every division in the organization. At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, any employee can submit suggestions to a portal called Ideas in Action, and their col- leagues then vote on them. Any idea that reaches 100 votes goes to the deputy secretary for consideration, but even those with fewer votes can receive feedback from administrators and "idea implementers." HUD aims to encourage out-of-the- box and innovative ideas, Deputy CIO Kevin Cooke told FCW. "We re looking at people really stretching to nd new ways of doing things, new concepts, [and] collaborating and communicat- ing at a whole new level." HUD also has an Under 5 network- ing group for employees with fewer than ve years of service, which has been the source of some new ideas, Cooke said. For instance, group mem- bers are working with higher-ups on a new parental leave policy and a better orientation process for new employ- ees. They would also like to develop a survey to provide better and more frequent feedback to managers. The added bene t of a new employ- ees group is that those who are new to an organization are less likely to identify strongly with a particular workgroup and, therefore, are more likely to rate new ideas impartially, Sorenson said. "They probably are less biased than those who have been there longer," he said. Any group or rotation program that brings together people from dif- ferent parts of the organization will help break down favoritism toward individuals own units. Rotations also build loyalty to the overall organiza- tion, he added. Similarly, the Of ce of Personnel Management s Center for Leader- ship Development seeks to broaden managers circle of in uence by intro- ducing them to the leader-member exchange theory, said Suzanne Logan, the center s director and OPM s deputy associate director. "As human beings, we are more comfortable working within our estab- lished circle," Logan said. "It s easy for us to reach out to people we have learned to trust, and it s easier for us to give to them. That larger circle is probably a circle that you should be paying attention to. They may report to you or are peers you need to work more effectively with. They may be people at other agencies or work- groups that you should be interact- ing with but you overlook." 3 Cultivate terri c middle managers The line manager might have the toughest job in any organization. He or she is squeezed between the demands from above and the complaints from below, with little power to completely respond to either level. So it shouldn t be a surprise that the quality of middle managers is a huge factor in a team s performance. A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research evaluated worker produc- tivity by analyzing more than 6 million on-the-job measurements and found that replacing a bad middle manager with a top-quality one increases the output of a nine-person team by a larg- er margin than adding a 10th employ- ee. Workers with better bosses were also less likely to quit. "These bosses do matter, and they earn their pay," said Kathryn Shaw, a professor at Stanford University s Graduate School of Business and co- author of the study. The researchers found that two- thirds of the difference in gain from a better boss was due to the supervi- sor teaching employees work skills or habits. They estimate that the average boss is about 1.75 times as productive as the average worker. The research rings true in the work- place, Logan said. "I nd, even within my small organization, the criticality of that middle group," she said. "They are the ones who are most aware of the needs that are going on. They can nd problem areas quicker than I can." Moreover, with the baby boomers getting ready to retire, middle manag- The difference between success and failure is how well you balance concern for others with your own ambitions. --- ADAM GRANT
September 15, 2013
October 30, 2013