Editorial: Management matters

If you doubt that management matters, flip back a few pages and spend a couple of minutes reading the results of Federal Computer Week’s second annual “Best Agencies for Federal IT Workers” survey.

The best and worst agency rankings are interesting, of course, and they will inspire plenty of water-cooler conversations. Surveys can reveal trends, but the number and demographics of participants can affect the results.

The most useful data for information technology workers and managers is what the survey tells us about why people like and dislike their jobs.

As with last year’s survey, we again found that many people become government employees because they believe in the mission. That may not surprise anyone in this community, but we shouldn’t overlook that observation.

As agencies deal with the surge of retirement-eligible workers, they should keep in mind that federal employees look for their jobs’ value. Most survey respondents have had extensive government careers. Although many others may brush aside feds as bureaucrats, government IT employees have chosen to make sacrifices — most obviously in their paychecks — because they believe in service. Agencies that can maintain focus on their missions will be most successful in attracting new employees.

In recent years, the buzz about good management is that the best leaders aren’t interested in IT for IT’s sake. Good leaders pursue IT because it enhances the mission. Our survey demonstrates that federal employees feel best about their jobs when IT complements their agencies’ business.

Good management is another essential point that the survey findings highlight. Workers appreciate leaders who understand the role IT plays in the organization. They yearn for managers who can help them do their jobs effectively.

The most uplifting part of the survey is the finding that federal IT workers are largely satisfied. Despite some problems and issues, they like their agencies, and they like their work. That is refreshing to find.


About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.

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