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February 2016
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The Public Manager

Facing the Challenges

Performance has become a critical term—for both the private and public sectors. Everyone is looking to increase employee performance by improving effectiveness, efficiency, and engagement. And since President Barack Obama signed into law the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act, federal agencies have been seeking innovative ways to execute their performance priorities; the Performance Improvement Council (PIC) is helping them do that.

The second feature article in this issue uncovers some key challenges that agencies face in their quest to plan and execute their performance priorities. Culture, skills gaps, and constantly shifting priorities are chief challenges, according to Bethany Blakey, capability building manager at PIC. But Blakey notes that designing and providing assistance to middle managers, who must deliver on agency missions but have way too much on their plates to successfully take on performance issues, is the most important task her organization can do for federal agencies.

Meanwhile, another way agencies can pursue improved performance management is through the effectiveness of their leaders. The On the Horizon article highlights the need to successfully build executive leadership teams. A new report from the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for the Business of Government, Managing the Government's Executive Talent, asserts that the new administration must assemble talent that can handle the challenges of managing the federal government by recruiting and retaining political and career executives with strong management skills.

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"Leadership talent management offers both an opportunity and a challenge for the incoming administration," write Douglas A. Brook and Maureen Hartney. "It is an opportunity to reshape the 21st-century federal workforce to meet both the demands of the new president and the expectations of the American people. However, it is a challenge, because the need is immediate and the topic is complex."

Bottom line: Agencies must invest in an executive talent management program that will put the right talent into leadership positions.

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As you can see by the main themes of this month's issue, The Public Manager is on the pulse of key government concerns that need the attention of our federal workforce. I hope you find the articles in this issue valuable.

Paula Ketter
Editor, The Public Manager
pketter@td.org

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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