Editorial: Management matters

FCW's annual "Best Agencies" survey tells us why federal IT workers like and dislike their jobs.

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.

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