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Harry Hertz


How Does Your Workplace Stack Up?

Baldrige winners score high in senior leadership

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 12:38

The results are in for the annual Best Places to Work in the Federal Government. The overall survey results are not surprising based on history, the current environment, and where many organizations—both government and business—have been challenged during recent years in the area of workforce engagement.

Government job satisfaction dipped for the third year in a row. It has dropped 7.2 points since 2010 to 57.8 percent in 2013. The largest drop in satisfaction was with pay; the second largest was with opportunities for training and development. And, in 2013, senior leadership received a government-wide satisfaction rating of 45.4 percent.

According to Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, “In an environment where you are calling for more from your employees, leadership has to do a better job of sharing information, recognizing good work, and empowering the workforce to succeed in a challenging environment.”

The highest scoring agency was NASA. Jeri Buchholz, NASA’s assistant administrator for human capital, said “We talk about culture issues and employee engagement at every senior leadership meeting.” She added that the agency has focused on leadership development.

Both Stier’s and Buchholz’s comments should be music to the ears of all of us who have been guided by the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence. Stier and Buchholz speak to key attributes of role model leaders contained in the Baldrige Criteria. The attributes are part of the Baldrige core value descriptor for visionary leadership.

Item 1.1 on Senior Leadership asks how senior leaders create a sustainable organization through:
• Creating an environment for mission achievement, performance improvement and leadership, and organizational and personal learning
• Creating a workforce culture that focuses on customer engagement
• Creating an environment for innovation
• Participating in the development of future leaders

It also asks how senior leaders engage in frank, open, two-way communication with employees, and how they focus the organization on action.

The definition of performance excellence adopted by Baldrige has three components. The last component, learned from Baldrige Award recipients, is a commitment to organizational and personal learning.

And in a study we did a number of years ago of Baldrige Award recipients, the highest scoring area across all sectors for role-model organizations was Item 1.1, Senior Leadership!

It all sounds very logical. You now know how the federal government stacks up. How about your organization?

First published Jan. 21, 2014, on Blogrige.


About The Author

Harry Hertz’s picture

Harry Hertz

Harry Hertz retired in June 2013 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), where he had served as director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program since 1995. For more than 15 years he was the primary architect of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, responsible for expansion of the Baldrige Program and Award to healthcare, education, and nonprofits, including government. Hertz serves on the advisory group for VHA’s Center for Applied Healthcare Studies, and on the adjunct faculty of American University. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, and a Ph.D. from M.I.T.