Connecting to Outcomes

Ever caught the show Undercover Boss? It’s just the kind of brilliant mind-numbing reality TV that you need for a sick day in bed – which is how I’m spending my Tuesday.

If you haven’t watched it, the basic premise is: a senior executive or company owner goes ‘undercover’ in the lower tiers of their company for a week or so. We get to feel smug, watching the out of touch executive reconnect with customers and frontline staff and gain an appreciation for how the real people live.

The lesson here is in the importance of staying connected to the purpose and meaning of the work we do. It’s so easy to get tangled in the daily crap, and forget why our work matters, even in the public sector where we create real community impact.

As a freshly minted policy advisor at a little local Council in provincial New Zealand, Michael Mintrom’s People Skills for Policy Analysts was never far from my desk. My biggest takeaway from that book was the importance of getting out of the office, to see the people and sites relevant to your projects firsthand. (I know, sensible right?) This elementary, yet eye-opening advice to tangibly connect to your subject matter totally changed the way that I thought about my work.

I think there’s no higher calling in terms of a career than public service, which is a chance to make a difference in people’s lives and improve the world.”

– Jack Lew

The work that we do in the public sector can feel mired in process and bureaucracy, which can make it hard to stay meaningfully connected to our impact. But this connection is important, to stay focused on action that creates real value, and to keep our teams engaged and motivated.

How do you keep yourself and your team connected to end outcomes?

How to… Stay Connected to the Outcome

·       Get out of the office regularly

·       Build relationships with key stakeholders

·       Place visual reminders of purpose and impact in your workspace.