We the Partnership

How to build a results-oriented culture

By Wanda King
October 28, 2020 | Updated on November 20, 2020

I recently heard that an executive at a financially struggling organization issued staff bonuses based on effort, not results. Initially, I was puzzled. Then I recalled the motivational quote, “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, at least you’ll land among the stars.”

This is a great mantra, but in today’s work environment effort alone is not enough. Effort matters, but results matter more.

And most federal leaders agree. Supported in part by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, federal leaders have moved toward—and continue to build—a results-oriented culture.

The Partnership’s Public Service Leadership Model reaffirms this shift. According to the model, achieving results means managing skillfully, thinking strategically and making good decisions that deliver measurable outcomes.

Before creating a results-oriented culture in your workplace, you must first examine your own behavior. Real change starts at the top and sometimes the best leadership tool is a mirror. Federal leaders should develop five key competencies to create a results-oriented workplace.  

Accountability: Accepting responsibility for the consequences of decisions.

  • Explain why accountability is important in your workplace, and identify and mitigate staff fears around accountability.
  • Encourage staff members to take responsibility if something goes wrong in their purview of work.
  • Address factors that prevent employees from taking ownership of their work.

Evidence-Based Decision-Making: Making choices grounded in the best available information and data.

  • Identify trusted sources of information and ensure your team knows how to use these sources.
  • Analyze enough data to make informed decisions.
  • Weigh facts and data against emotions and other considerations.

Systems Thinking: Learning how to navigate government’s unique structure and organization.

  • Explain to new staff the factors that make the government work environment unique.
  • Educate your team about key decision-makers, stakeholders and influencers and how they operate.
  • Help staff members continue to learn about and better understand their work environment.

Tech Savviness: Understanding the importance of technology and how it can improve organizational outcomes.

  • Identify and communicate areas of technological strength, and provide assistance when needed.
  • Understand where you lack technological expertise and fill in the gaps.
  • Encourage staff to stay up to date on the latest trends and tools.

Customer Experience: Acting with internal and external customers in mind.

  • Educate staff members on what your organization’s customers care about most.
  • Ensure your organization meets customer needs and wants, and identify opportunities for better service.
  • Examine how good customer service can help you deliver on your mission.

Shaping an organizational culture will take a lot of time and effort, but a focus on achieving results can help drive change.

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Wanda King