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A focus on IT talent can help agencies to achieve high performance in federal technology.
While technology is critical, so are the people who run it. The question for CIOs is: “Do you manage your workforce as well as your technology?” CIOs face a new imperative. They are finding that the management and development of their IT workforces is as vital now as any of the more traditional technology-based measures. IT has unprecedented opportunities to deliver business value—and an engaged, empowered IT workforce is essential to realizing this potential.
Ultimately, the performance and business impact of federal IT cannot improve unless execution improves. And execution, in the end, depends on how well the IT workforce performs.
In this paper, Accenture recommends several ways in which federal agencies can cultivate talent to help shape a future of high performance. Whether improving training opportunities, or using social media to make that training more readily available, there is more than one pathway to improving workforce performance.
Many organizations focus their investment on technology rather than people, while the workforce often bears the brunt of cost-cutting and other austerity measures. CIOs are finding that the management and development of their IT workforces is as vital now as any of the more traditional technology-based measures. Ultimately, the performance and business impact of federal IT cannot improve unless execution improves. And execution, in the end, depends on how well the IT workforce performs.
A 2011 survey, conducted by Federal News Radio, reported 40 percent of federal CIOs and deputies placed IT workforce and training issues as one of their top five priorities in 2012.1 The Office of Management and Budget's 25-point IT reform plan cited multiple human capital focus areas within IT. And various reports such as the Federal CIO Council’s 2011 Information Technology Workforce Capability Assessment and TechAmerica’s 2012 Federal CIO Survey highlight IT skill gaps in critical areas such as IT program management, IT acquisition, cyber security, analytics, enterprise architecture and capital planning.
Many federal agencies try to backfill positions when someone leaves. It is better to be regularly assessing what are the critical competencies and skills needed to deliver on the IT organization’s priorities. According to the Accenture Skills Gap Study, only 53 percent of employees surveyed said their employers document their skills. Even those that do skills assessments rarely go beyond a “dump” of basic resume data.
Leading organizations continuously assess their workforces, and diagnose and close skill gaps, either through targeted recruiting efforts or by building on the existing workforce through targeted interventions, such as learning, knowledge management and collaboration tools and performance feedback.
Many organizations are surprised to learn that some of the skills they need already exist within their organizations. Creating a database of employee capabilities and talents is essential to mining the organization for key skills. It is also important to create processes to support internal job mobility. Proper incentives can encourage employees to move into different roles based on changing skill needs, or to develop more timely and relevant skills.
There are several ways in which federal agencies can embrace technology and focus on a culture of leadership to foster high performance in IT. For example:
Go social. Recent innovations have made it easier for employees to continuously learn skills in the context of their everyday jobs. These opportunities include learning by observing colleagues, receiving coaching from a supervisor, having access to proven ideas and best practices and peer-to-peer networks.
Cultivate a culture of high performance. To successfully transform culture, an organization must have a solid understanding of the culture as it exists today, and the desired culture for tomorrow. Sophisticated techniques and analytics can be used to analyze the existing cultural attributes of an organization and support a course of action for transition from the current to future state.
Strengthen today’s leaders. Strong leaders are needed to set the vision and help position the agency for future success. Executive coaching is increasing being used to build high-performing leaders and leadership teams, and some organizations are even establishing coaching as a core capability within their organization. Virtual coaching models and leadership collaboration solutions are helping to accelerate trial and error feedback loops and support enhanced development.
Grow the leaders of tomorrow. Agencies must focus on not only building a strong leadership cadre for today’s challenges, but on creating a strong pipeline of leadership talent for tomorrow. Planning for the future allows IT organizations to align training, development and other human capital practices to establish a deep bench of leaders for tomorrow.
October 24, 2012
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