Monthly Archives: November 2010
The current federal unemployment rate is nearly 10%. In my region of CT, the unemployment rate is slightly higher. As with other places around the country, the costs of, well of EVERYTHING are skyrocketing. Just last week, for example, you could buy a gallon of gas for about $2.90. Today, the same gas stations are selling it for over $3.00/gallon. It is hardly surprising that some managers, in this time of economic and organizational stress, are overheard mumbling (and in some unfortunate cases, shouting) that challenging employees “should thankful they have jobs.”
Uh oh. Bloggers and management gurus around the country are shouting “Foul! Unfair advantage! Poor leadership! Inadequate motivational strategies!” But are they right to be so very offended at the sentiment? How could we, the leaders of our organizations, believe that our employees should feel lucky, privileged to have a job? Afterall, is it not our responsibility, as leaders, to create environments that promote engagement and encourage innovation? Aren’t we supposed to take steps to ensure that our employees are happy?
As a 25 veteran public administrator, I offer a resounding Yes….
It is absolutely true that one responsibility of leadership is to create and ensure an environment where people feel valued and empowered. To create a place where employees know their work matters and that the work has meaning above and beyond the daily grind. Leaders must ensure that creativity and innovation are possible and rewarded. Employee satisfaction should be at the top of our priority list.
On the other hand, employees must also come to work prepared to uphold their end of the bargain.It is reasonable to expect that employees have a basic work ethic which includes a desire to be productive, an internal motivation to honest and forthright, and a willingness to learn and grow. It is not irrational to believe that in this climate a person should be happy to be employed, and that he or she would want to contribute to the organization that provides them a means to maintain self-sufficiency.
If the above is true, the quest is for balance between hiring and nurturing employees who appreciate that just wanting a paycheck is not enough AND hiring and nurturing leadership who understand that at the end of the day just giving someone a paycheck is not enough either. How wonderful and amazing our workplaces would be if those of us who are employed take time every day to thank some body (God, our lucky stars, the powers that be, our patient children) for our jobs, and those who employ us thank their lucky stars for us, too.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.
Robyn-Jay Bage, M.P.A. is a nonprofit CEO and community college Assistant Professor
By Kenneth Hunter, Guest Blogger
The competitive world us professionals face, regardless of field, necessitates using every possible opportunity to improve our abilities, identify avenues for providing our services to broader audiences and (most importantly) building spheres of influence on a person-to-person basis.
Conferences, workshops, classes and even chance encounters provide professional with ideals mediums for developing relationships with colleagues, residents or potential employers and clients. Conversations lead to the sharing of ideas, comparing of projects, suggestions for future collaboration and, most importantly, swapping of contact information for future engagement.
Of course, a single opportunity to strike up a discussion or suggest how one could best help out with someone’s research or upcoming capital project does not always yield long-term benefit. Most of us can admit that of the hundreds, if not thousands of people we “connect” with face-to-face for the first time, few of them develop into professional relationships that yield their potential.
While differences in personality, time constraints and numerous other reasons can explain this phenomena, one critical factor within our control and ability to take action is the manner with which we followup on those initial introductions and meetings. How do you process the dozens of business cards, napkins and notes than you compile during a conference in order to tie these individuals into your critical network?
First of all, keep in mind that followup is always appropriate if someone hands out their business card or contact information. Shortly after receiving their information, take a moment to note the reason for a potential followup on the back or below the contact information, just in case you need to “jog” your memory later.
Next, remember that follow ups should be consistent with the tone set in the first encounter. Unless you “promised” something to the other person, re-initiate contact with a short email, phone call or written note. Make sure to reference a topic or item discussed.
If you are looking for a job or career advancement, do not use the first followup to send them a copy of your resume. Hand written notes work best in this case. Briefly remind them that you had a nice time talking to them about “career opportunities” or something like that, and do not forget to include another copy of your business card. The message can also include an offer to send them a copy of your resume, at their request.
If you happen to followup by email or on the phone, you also might want to consider scheduling responses (via Outlook, phone calendar, etc.) for 1-2 business days later, especially when it involves a multi-day conference.
One strategy I developed that worked well following a recent conference was to take some time before I left to go home and sort through the cards and notes aI received, as well as notes I wrote during sessions and encounters. I wrote out a list of those individuals I needed to followup on, as well as the information we discussed that I needed to include in the followup message. When I got back to work, I had everything I needed to do on a single sheet, arranged as action-oriented tasks.
Finally, do not forget, as soon as possible, to post business card and contact information into your electronic contact file. Whether you use Outlook, Google, or another application to maintain your contact records, it is important to be able to find information there before you forget to enter it in, or lose the business cards.
Without followup, potential relationships will go absolutely nowhere. Taking the time to initiate communication after that first encounter is not something one should leave to the other party. Action on your part is critical, especially in order to cultivate the growth of the professional network of contacts, colleagues and friends you need in order to succeed in the competitive world of the 21st century.
Additional information on this topic is available at http://everyjoe.com/work/networking-crisis-solved-how-to-follow-up-with-a-new-contact-386/.
ASPA Member Kenneth Hunter is an MPA graduate of The University of Georgia with more than a decade of experience in local government finance. Kenneth is the Budget & Evaluation Manager for the City of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for Budgeting & Financial Management and is a Board Member and Webmaster for the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association. You can follow Ken online via Facebook & Tumblr.
Many have said this before, but now I believe we are clearly in a period when politicians that overlook our Federal programs can no longer effectively deal with their responsibility. They gravitate to the lowest common politically-safe denominator of cutting taxes without corresponding program spending cuts. They point to the Laffer Curve as discussed in my previous posting and they always assume we are in the ‘green zone’ when evidence suggests otherwise. I even heard former vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, refer to it last Sunday during her appearance on FOX News.
While I was still thinking about what Palin had said earlier in the day, David Stockman, President’s Reagan’s first budget director, appeared on 60 Minutes later that evening. Stockman previously lamented about the politics of tax cuts and lack of corresponding spending cuts (I assume he figured we were in the ‘green zone’ after the initial Reagan cuts) in his book, The Triumph of Politics: Why the Reagan Revolution Failed. But on Sunday, he was even more candid and bolder. Not only did he accuse the tax cut proponents as adhering to some kind of a tax cut religion, but he even called for a one time 15% surtax on the richest 5% in order to reduce the national debt by half. But what he said next was mind-boggling to me. In 1985, he said, the net worth of the top 5% wealthiest households in America was eight trillion dollars, and since 1985, the same group is now worth forty trillion dollars. He added that that accumulation of wealth between 1985 and 2010 was more than the wealth all human kind had accumulated up to 1980. Mind-boggling.
As scholars and practitioners of public administration, we spend a lot of time thinking about policies in the form of programs our discipline administers. That is because Woodrow Wilson taught us well about the need and the wisdom of separating politics from administration. But as the debate about taxes and spending plays out in the political arena it is difficult to ignore the politics. Maybe I am coming to this realization much later than others, but I am now totally convinced we are in a period of collective governance insanity from which we are less likely to recover in my lifetime. I think I have at least a couple decades left in me.
In Australia, voting is compulsory. Since 1924, Australians have been required by their government to show up at polling booths or face fines. Not showing up to the polls also means that your vote automatically goes to the minority party.
For advocates of this law (and there are about 20 countries who vote this way) it’s touted as a way to get more people out to vote. A higher percentage of people voting means government is theoretically more representative of the people. One of the other stated benefits of compulsory voting is that when citizens are required to vote, they are more likely to educate themselves about the issues.
I’d like to believe that Americans would be more inclined to educate themselves if faced with compulsory voting, but I wonder. I mean, it isn’t that people don’t have a lot of information. They listen to talk shows and watch Fox news and read all the emails that get sent their way. They really know a lot about the whereabouts of President Obama’s birth certificate, for instance. Being full of such knowledge, they join the Tea Party and carry photos of President Obama with Hitler moustaches while simultaneously calling him a Socialist.
An “educated” populace isn’t necessarily the same thing as an “informed” one. It depends on who’s doing the informing and what kind of information it is. These posters illustrate my point. The Nazi’s called themselves the National Socialist Party, but they were Fascists. Fascists are about as right-wing as you can get. So, if you want to call someone a socialist, the facial hair of choice should be a pointy beard like Lenin, right? Someone didn’t get a basic political science lecture somewhere along the line.
The most important thing that we voters need to know when choosing a legislator is “How effective will this person be at getting my favored legislation passed?” Being an effective legislator has nothing to do with what religion you are or who you’ve slept with. Educating one’s self about how a particular legislator voted is relatively easy – you look at the voting record. The harder part of being informed is understanding the real effect of legislation.
Our education system could be a source for that. Journalism could too. Unfortunately, both of these institutions have their flaws. Educators are constantly asked to do more with less. News organizations are in the business of selling information and it’s easier to do that when it’s sensational. A long list of how a particular legislator voted isn’t very exciting.
One other obstacle to citizen education is ourselves. Do we really want to be informed? Or do we really just want to hear the things that support what we already believe?
I’m not convinced that compulsory voting would result in better educated citizens, but I am convinced higher standards would. Higher education standards; journalists free to tell the story instead of sell ads and challenging ourselves to understand the real impact of that little blue line on the ballot.
By Rajesh Kumar Shakya, Ph.D. Student (DPA)
The debate on e-government for public administration mostly revolves around focusing on its functions of service delivery, information management, and use of technology. But public administration extends far beyond that. Public administrators need a broader public administration system approach towards e-government that surpasses the technocratic emphasis, and blend seamlessly for the full benefits of e-government in all areas of public administration. Public administration system approach helps the governments to escape from the technology dilemma that currently dominates e-government. E-government is a necessity for the countries aiming for better governance. Governance extends beyond government enclave, to civil society and the private enterprises. It applies to all entities from individual family to the state. So the e-governance should embrace the potential of exercising political, social, economic, and administrative processes and govern the whole matters.
E-government should be used in both the functionaries and governance aspects of the public administration transforming into cross-cutting e-Administration, which broadens the values of public administration. We should enrich public administration through e-government exploiting the immense possibilities it offers. Also, if we stick the use of e-government only for the information management, it will challenge the fundamental essence of public administration. Under the public administration system approach, e-government requires public agencies to harmonize their vision, resources and infrastructure, to integrate governance processes and interoperate in sync for the operation of government machinery, and providing services to its beneficiaries.
In particular, the integration potential offered by the e-government allows the possibility to transform government machinery, operation processes and improve the quality of government services – improve the managerial effectiveness, promotion of democratic mechanisms, and operational efficiency of public services. It helps to transform the traditional siloed operation, and processes to interconnected, interoperable, participative, and synchronized governance processes. Embracing the e-government paradigm by the governments is possible only if it treats the e-government as a holistic government transformation, not a technical adaptation; and challenges the traditional legacy, perceptions, and values.
[Rajesh Kumar Shakya is the practitioner e-Government and e-Government Procurement Consultant for different governments in Asia, Europe, and Africa. More issues, aspects, and practices in e-government around the world will be discussed in his future posts.]