The Gallup Business Journal recently published an article written by Jennifer Robinson that described the research of Lawrence Mallory. It is very relevant to our work on the State Referee Committee to try and make our statewide referee organization and our local referee chapters more efficient. Here is an excerpt:
To many, this is a truism: Government is inefficient, and its workers are disengaged. But Lawrence Mallory, a Gallup senior practice consultant who specializes in workplace engagement in government, says there’s actually a bigger truism at work. “A large bureaucratic organization is a large bureaucratic organization,” he says. “And that’s true whether the institution is government or not.”
At best, inept managers slow teams down; at worst, they destroy them.
Still, government faces self-imposed constraints that harm efficiency in ways that many less bureaucratic organizations would never tolerate. Mallory says the following four are the worst.
Government culture tries to avoid failure rather than striving to succeed. “New workers are basically told ‘Just don’t make a mistake,'” Mallory says. “That’s different than succeeding.” That attitude, though it might keep government agencies out of the news, hampers innovation, progress, and genuine customer service.
Managers aren’t recruited for talent. Government promotions often reward seniority. That makes a manager role a reward for loyalty, not a career track for those with management talent. At best, inept managers slow teams down; at worst, they destroy them.
Procedures are written in stone. Private enterprises should be nimble to meet market demands, but that pressure is absent in government, Mallory says. “Agencies develop rules and policies — to avoid mistakes, of course — that they’re then forced to follow. Sometimes, they do this to the point of absurdity.” In one agency Mallory studied, leadership was worried that workers were unsatisfied about their ability to meet management’s expectations — so management lowered its expectations.
Lack of succession planning. A careful assessment of an organization’s current talent pool and imminent needs is the foundation of any succession plan. But when the leadership team is comprised of managers who were promoted based on seniority and a history of avoiding mistakes, succession planning becomes “incredibly risk-averse and top-heavy,” as Mallory says. And it is quite likely lacking in several necessary demands of leadership.