Does Management Even Matter? – Leading Your Organization

GoetheA recent piece in Slate caught my attention and seems ripe for discussion and comment. An article by Fisman and Sullivan praised the New York Passport Agency as a model of efficiency, and says the operation is in the “vanguard of workplace effectiveness”.

The part that seemed out of place was that they were praising a government agency, where the focus of the operation seemed to be squarely on providing quick and efficient service to its customers.

What in the name of the VA and Social Security is happening here?  How is a government agency being operated to serve the customer?  Has a crack audit team not yet found this place yet, and tried to nip in the bud this habit of giving superior service?

As Fisman and Sullivan note, “there is an increasing body of research that chalks up productivity gaps to the all-too-human-ways that different companies (and divisions of the same organization) are managed”. So – shocker – leadership and management matters!

If you are in government, and especially in a federal agency, you have had a number of stimulus over the past few years to excuse a dip in your customer satisfaction (assuming you even care to measure it). Unfilled positions, furloughs, pay freezes, sequestration, and the ubiquitous looming shutdown provides daily ready made reasons to excuse bad service.  Well guess what?  That is a dodge a good leader should see through in a hot minute.Customer Service

There is more opportunity than ever in the current climate to demonstrate why one division gets it done, and done well, while another just plain sucks.  It comes down to you, not positions or budgets or other things over which you have little to no control.  If you want to come in each day and give good service to your team and your customers, you will.  If you want to bitch and whine about how things could be better, you have missed the point of government service.  Despite the bashing all around of government workers, the reality is, the job exists to provide a service to the country and not to provide job welfare.  The percs that come with a job, like wages, healthcare and retirement, are a bonus and not the point of the place.

bad-customer-service-2Good managers do things like lead, teach, support, and listen – bad ones do things so wrong that people find new jobs. Why should government be any different than Walmart or Apple?

As Dylan said, “we all got to serve someone”.  As a government employee, you serve twice over.  You serve the people who work for and with you and you serve the people who pay your way.  Bureaucracy_Cartoon-570x431

As you wrestle with how to get that right, ask yourself who is getting served when the next bright idea rolls into your head.  Your mission is to motivate, keep the process efficient, and never lose sight of what it is you are supposed to provide.Change-things

So, in summary, it matters.  Your management matters.  People matter. Service matters.  A company hopeful to turn a profit and escape being a statistic of business failures knows that if they don’t serve their customers, they will guarantee that they won’t be coming back.

If you don’t think it matters, than here’s a clip for you, from the immortal Bill Murray. It should be more to your liking.