How Authentic Appreciation Can Cut Through Government Bureaucracy

October 24, 2016 9:10 am Published by

Government agencies are extremely concerned about their low levels of employee engagement, and rightfully so. When staff don’t feel valued, discouraged Afr-Amer leaderthey become discouraged, passive, apathetic and cynical.

This can result from a variety of factors including not feeling respected by customers, poor communication within the agency, a sense of powerlessness to make improvements, and not ‘heard’ by upper level managers and directors.  The issues seem to be the same whether the agency is at the city, county, state or federal level (but federal employees seem to be the most frustrated.)

We receive reports from all levels of government employees (frontline employees, supervisors, managers, or directors) that staff members are incredibly frustrated with the bureaucratic maze in which they work.  In fact, for many, “bureaucracy” is a synonym for the government.

Practically speaking, what does this look like?  Here are examples given by government employees:

  • “The number of forms I have to fill out is crazy – and they are always changing. My ‘work’ has essentially become the paperwork necessary to get tasks done.”
  • “Rules and regulations are obviously needed. But there are so many, you can’t even keep track of them all. And they come all different directions – OSHA, EEOC, NSA.  It’s a miracle we get anything done at all.”
  • “The most frustrating thing to me is – when a job position opens, the person who has the most experience and most qualified rarely gets the job. So we wind up promoting those who are less competent.”

As we work with more government agencies, we are finding that one very effective way to make government employees daily lives better is to teach them how to communicate authentic appreciation to one another in the ways that meaningful to each individual.

Why does this work?  Because we focus on appreciation that is:

  1. Authentic. We don’t want people just “going through the motions” or acting like they appreciate someone when they really don’t.
  2. Personal.  True appreciation is between individuals, not a generic certificate that everyone gets.
  3. Individualized. Not generic, group-blasted emails.  Authentic appreciation is about you – your skills & abilities, what you’ve accomplished.
  4. Not only about work. We are people first. Yes, we accomplish tasks, but we have other valuable qualities not directly related to performance (e.g. a sense of humor).
  5. In the language and actions important to the recipient. Not everyone feels appreciated in the ways, and appreciation is most impactful when given in the ways valued by the recipient.

Because the demands and challenges working within a government setting are unique, we’ve created a customized version of our Motivating By Appreciation Inventory to make sure the actions suggested fit with government regulations (for example, regarding giving gifts) and are relevant to government workplaces.

We acknowledge that there are inherent challenges within many government agencies that make them at risk for becoming unhealthy workplaces, but we also affirm that most individual government employees deserve to be encouraged and shown appreciation for the services they provide, and we want to provide the resources to help make this happen.





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Published by
October 24, 2016 9:10 am

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