Smart Management

What Government Can Learn From Business

The column I wrote in December on the "enduring myth" that government should be run like a business generated a lot of reaction -- more, in fact, than any in the five-plus years that I have written in this space. The level of response and the thoughtfulness of the rejoinders convinced me that the narrow perspective I had taken, and the limitations of an 800-word column format, almost demanded that I give it another try.

My main point in the prior column, expressed in the aftermath of the election of a president who had touted his business success as a qualification for leading the federal government, was to suggest that the experience of running a private-sector enterprise (perhaps especially a family business) does not translate directly to the challenges of leading a government. READ MORE

Generation Z Wants a Job. Are You Ready to Hire Them?

Move over, millennials. Generation Z -- sometimes called post-millennials, the iGeneration or plurals, to name a few -- is starting to enter the workforce. As they do, it would be wise for public-sector leaders to understand the differences they may bring to recruiting, hiring, training and managing. 

The earliest of Generation Z was born in the mid-1990s. They don’t have solid memories of 9/11; they witnessed the Great Recession at a formative age -- many seeing the devastating impact it had on their parents; and they have lived immersed in social media and rapid-fire technological communication.  READ MORE

Before the Flood: the Value of Mitigation

Billion-dollar natural disasters are becoming the norm in the United States. Since 1980, catastrophes of this magnitude have affected all 50 states, hitting five to 10 times each year. Floods are the most frequent and expensive disasters; from 1980 to 2013, they caused more than $260 billion in damage. In 2016 alone, 36 of the federal government's 46 disaster declarations involved floods or hurricanes; four of them cost more than $1 billion each.

That's the price of cleaning up a flood after it happens. But much can be done to mitigate damage and reduce costs before the rain begins. Forward-thinking policymakers and local officials are doing just that. READ MORE

The State of Paid Parental Leave in the Public Sector

Several weeks ago, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a paid maternity leave bill for state employees, Arkansas Personnel Administrator Kay Barnhill couldn’t help thinking back to her own experience. When her children were born, she had to use up all of her sick and vacation hours to spend time with them. Paid maternity leave, she says somewhat wistfully, “would have been tremendous.”

Only 13 percent of private-sector workers have access to paid parental leave, and that number isn’t likely much higher for state and local government employees. READ MORE

Sexual Wrongdoing in the Government Workplace: the Leadership Challenge

We've seen more than enough sexual assault and harassment cases that were ignored for years or even decades. The Catholic Church scandal. Penn State and, more recently, Baylor University. The National Football League. The military service academies and the Coast Guard. Some local-government fire and police agencies. And that's just a starter list.

At the National Park Service, complaints of sexual harassment and assault go back more than 20 years. In one survey, 75 percent of female park police said they had experienced sexual harassment on the job. READ MORE