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21st Century Workforce – Lead the Way!

August 15, 2013 in Organizational Excellence, Uncategorized

There is no doubt that we are all disappointed with the rankings the NPS receives as a Best Place to Work in the Federal Government.  Over the past ten years the workforce has consistently scored the NPS in the bottom quartile of all federal agencies. But there’s a reason to be optimistic. For the first time in 2012, results were delivered on a micro level providing an opportunity for managers to see individual evaluation and remedies at over 200 parks and offices. The survey is intended to help create institutional incentives to focus on key workforce issues and provide managers and leaders with a way to measure and improve employee satisfaction and commitment.

Call to Action #39 – “Lead the Way” is focused on leveraging strong employee commitment, exceptional leadership and improved management practices to build the 21st century workforce necessary to advance the NPS mission.

Through this Call to Action over 50 NPS parks have elected to analyze and take action on their site’s survey results with targeted support from NPS’ Organizational Development Branch. Each park will produce actionable improvement plans that address the findings of their 2012 survey reports.

Most participating parks have held employee meetings and/or established an employee committee to evaluate what is working well and what can be improved upon.  The following are excerpts from some of the feedback we’ve received.

 “…participants shared many common experiences, a strong sense of camaraderie and commitment to their work and the park. Management as well, showed commitment to their positions and to their staff. There seemed to be a strong desire on both parts to make [our park] a work place that brings out the best in its employees.”

 “ I have been impressed by how the process of discussing these questions has engendered an openness and frankness among the staff. The result of these discussions has already catalyzed some positive change at the park level.”

 “We focused primarily on areas where our scores were lower, which represent opportunities for improvement, but we looked closely at all the categories, because high scores represent an opportunity to get even better.  At an all-employee meeting, the employees were informed of the management team’s intention of looking carefully at the survey results and solicited their feedback.”

There’s also no doubt that the NPS has a ways to go to build the ‘ideal’ workplace.   One thing is for sure, of all the federal agencies we have the most dedicated and optimistic employees who, in spite of the internal and external pressures we face, will do their very best to deliver world class resource protection and visitor services.

The next all employee survey will be in the spring of 2014.

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What does Collaboration mean to you?

September 14, 2012 in Organizational Excellence

Collaboration is a word we have been hearing a lot recently.  It is easy to define; collaboration is working together to achieve a goal, and we do it every day.  Sometimes, it is also easy to see in practice, such as Search & Rescue teams working together seamlessly to locate lost hikers. But other times it can be harder to see, the interpretation plan that required stakeholders from several organizations and communities to craft or the management of historic resources that requires knowledge and experience from several fields to preserve. In the National Park Service, our daily work often requires that we collaborate, but how do we achieve this when we are an agency that reaches from Maine to American Samoa and works in places as different as New York City and Death Valley?

One way is to use technology- to take advantage of blogs, webinars, conference calls, and social media — to connect and share information. Another way is to strategically use technology and face to face time to build strong networks and provide people with the tools necessary to participate in meaningful dialogue both in-person and virtually.  How to facilitate this way of working is an ongoing question (and always will be as technology and the workforce continually change). It is a question that’s being explored every day by exploring where collaboration is effective and learning from pioneering people and organizations that are putting the best practices of collaboration to work for them.

Action Item #31 Destination Innovation challenges us to use new technology to enhance collaboration — to create a network of practitioners all striving to solve complex problems and share lessons learned through work and experience. The goal of a network is to rapidly share knowledge, new approaches, and insights from practical experience to solve mission-critical problems and advance organizational excellence. These networks can reach beyond organizational boundaries to bring groups together and provide space for the collaborative process we are all striving for. Many of these networks are already in place but we can continue to expand who is engaged and how we engage. How are you using networks to work collaboratively across parks, partners, and communities?  How are you fostering a network park stewards within your organization?