Smart Management

Are Nonprofits the New Go-To Choice for Altruistic Jobseekers?

State and local governments have historically struggled to compete with the private sector. They almost never offer better pay, and pensions -- one of the biggest selling points for the public sector -- have become less generous.

To make matters worse, there’s another player on the scene: nonprofits. And despite the fact that they rarely offer better pay or benefits, they may be pulling job candidates away from states and localities more than ever before.  READ MORE

The Worst Idea in Government Management: Pay for Performance

I started paying attention to business management in the late 1970s, and my timing could not have been better. I saw all the business fads of the late 20th century paraded before me, from "management by objectives," "Theory Z" and "in search of excellence" through "reengineering the corporation," "good to great" and "Six Sigma." At one point I wondered, are all these management theories actually the same ideas with new titles?

The fads seemed harmless enough -- and may have been useful if they encouraged executives to think about their businesses in new ways. But one struck me, then and now, as dangerous. And that was "pay for performance." Even more frightening, it has made its way into government, with terrible consequences. READ MORE

A State Employees' Guide to Governors' Workforce Goals

What are governors' plans for their employees this year? A strong sense of that can be garnered from their State of the State speeches.

All but one of the governors have given these addresses this year. (Louisiana's John Bel Edwards will address the legislature next week). Not every one is formally dubbed a "State of the State," but they all lay out their achievements and challenges of the past as well as their priorities for the future. READ MORE

When Politicians Face an Angry Public

The recent discomfiture experienced by some members of Congress facing angry crowds at town hall meetings in their districts has drawn considerable attention. The prospect of thoroughgoing changes to our health-care system was the salient issue driving angry constituent responses, but not the only one. Some members of Congress declined to attend such meetings at all, while others suffered through them, clearly regarding them as ordeals from which they would rather be spared.

Local-government officials everywhere have to have found this manifest angst about town hall meetings richly amusing. Local officials, after all, conduct such meetings as a matter of routine. Mayors, council members, county supervisors and other elected officials at the local level meet with upset constituents on a continuous basis -- it is what they do. As a local-government administrator, I attended such meetings for 35 years. Local officials see nothing unusual or threatening or even particularly difficult about them. READ MORE

Why We Need to Rethink Public-Sector Retirement

A recent New York Times column made me recall a lesson I learned almost 40 years. "Their Jobs Keep Them Healthy" was the article's title, and its point was that delaying retirement can be good for "the brain and the body." Delaying retirement by key contributors is good for employers as well. Keeping employees with valuable job knowledge working in some capacity is at least a partial answer to the kind of staffing crisis that governments in particular face. And of course it reduces pension costs.

Early in my consulting career, I was asked to play a role in assessing the market for retirement counseling. We dug into the research and talked to several experts. That made me aware that professionals in legal and medical occupations -- who could presumably afford to retire -- often continue working and remain productive into their 80s. Today, of course, increasing numbers of workers in all occupations continue working on some basis or would like to do so after the "normal" retirement age of 65. READ MORE