Journal: People Science - Human Capital Management & Leadership in the public sector Volume 1, Issue 2 Spring/Summer 2014 - Page 27

Introduction To meet the complex challenges facing our government, agencies need to develop their senior executive cadre. Investing in a leadership strategy allows agencies to harness the experience, intellect and leadership to achieve competing priorities. A report from the Partnership for Public Service and McKinsey & Company, Building the Leadership Bench, examined the current state of talent development for building and sustaining senior executives. The report found that agencies pay insufficient attention to identifying, developing, recruiting and selecting individuals for senior executive positions—leaving our government’s bench all too weak. In the next five years, nearly two-thirds of the senior executives will be retirement-eligible. Are federal agencies prepared for the potential turnover? Are agency leaders taking the steps to shepherd aspiring executives? Recruiting Top Caliber Executives “In addition to developing and cultivating leaders from within their ranks, agencies also have to attract leaders, according to Mary Lou Lindholm, former associate director for employment at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). To do so requires a formal recruiting strategy and hiring practices that evaluate whether candidates have demonstrated leadership qualities/core leadership competencies in previous positions before they are hired. Tools for Development In addition to building robust recruiting strategies, agencies now recognize the value of cultivating and developing senior executives from within. Agencies are incorporating more diverse programs into their leadership development strategy and implementing techniques like: • 360 degree evaluations • Executive coaching • Leadership training and alternative techniques 360 Degree Evaluations 360 degree evaluations provide anonymous feedback from the people senior executives work closely with, such as supervisors, peers, and direct reports. Respondents are encouraged to provide written, qualitative feedback along with their ratings. Responses are kept anonymous and are shared only with the person receiving the feedback. A self-evaluation is also commonly included in the feedback process with the employee answering the same questions as other raters. Once respondents have completed their ratings and written feedback, results should be provided to the employee. The results of the assessment can be used by the employee as a tool to identify areas of development and are often shared with an executive coach to help establish a coaching plan. People Science 360 degree evaluations must be carefully planned, monitored and implemented to be well-received and successful. When this method is utilized in the wrong environment, the results can be detrimental. With close consideration and evaluation, the decision to employ this tool, or another, should be made carefully. Organizations administering 360 degree programs must first ensure the environment is one that fosters individual development and growth. They must also engage in a communications strategy and training to make certain those participating in the program know the purpose, benefits, and how to provide feedback. When a 360 degree feedback program is properly implemented, organizations can experience an overall positive effect. Executive Coaching Executive coaching is also becoming more prevalent within the Federal government as a tool to cultivate and develop senior executives. Executives have limited opportunities to devote time and energy to their own professional growth. Many executives struggle to fulfill the responsibilities of their positions and are too busy and too stressed to step back and learn from their experiences or to implement changes to satisfy best management practices. The intent of executive coaching is to identify and prioritize career issues and goals with an action plan. The coach also supports the executive in addressing and focusing on the strategic issues of the organization, while simultaneously addressing personal developmental issues. Brian Crew, the associate director for human capital planning and solutions at the Department of Tran