Since the election results came in, it certainly seems as though many federal public servants are walking around with a renewed spring in their step. This could signal a unique opportunity for managers to take a leadership role in re-engaging their employees.
As consultants whose practice is largely with the federal public service (FPS), we have observed a significant decline in employee engagement over the years. Many of the managers we work with report growing morale issues and a sense that their employees no longer have their hearts in the game. As discussed in our previous post Create and Sustain Engaged and Energized Workplaces, the Public Service Employee Survey results support these observations. The culture that has crept into the FPS seems to have reduced managers to the technical aspect of their role – directing people and tasks for maximum output. Many feel it is a challenge to sustain their own engagement, let alone that of their employees.
The Liberals’ promise to “work with and respect the Public Service” has brought hope to many that morale can now begin to take a turn for the better. Managers have a unique opportunity right now. They can take advantage of this wave of optimism to re-engage themselves and their employees. They can once again take their full leadership role; including yet transcending the management of people and tasks. Not that the latter is not important – in fact it is fundamental. But it is not enough if you want to bring out the best in people.
Now is a great time for leaders to help employees reconnect with what is meaningful to them. For many public servants, that is the desire to make a difference for Canadians. One can’t assume that the current wave of hope is enough to reverse years of eroding morale. Meaningful engagement will always be a goal that requires ongoing effort and attention. But why not take advantage of this new context to facilitate employee engagement. We could all use a bit more of a spring in our step.
Watch for our next blog post in which we’ll share what we consider to be the main ingredients for successful employee engagement.
Supporting leaders in the meaningful engagement of their employees
Kathleen Connelly, Senior Consultant, Intersol Group
Daniel Leclair, Senior Consultant, Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing