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Angela Cotellessa, Program Manager of the Center for Leadership Development in the Office of Personnel Management, shares different ways that managers in the federal government can keep employee morale high during the pandemic

Federal agencies are releasing plans for going back to the office to try to get back to as close to normal as possible. One of the elements of those comeback plans will be gauging employee morale.

Angela Cotellessa, Program Manager of the Center for Leadership Development in the Office of Personnel Management, writes in an article in Government Executive about what managers can do to keep employee morale high, keep employees engaged, and foster a good culture. “Especially now, when times are harder than ever, I think the six practices that I wrote about are particularly important,” Cotellessa stated.

One of the things Cotellessa emphasizes is gratitude. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it is the strategic thing to do, she explained, because people want to do more good work when they feel seen, heard and valued.

She also addressed the concept of “managing up,” saying that while you have to be careful with what you say and how you say it, managing up is nevertheless an important element of conveying ideas to leadership and being convincing in order to influence decisions.

Being a storyteller is important, according to Cotellessa. Leaders should focus on both the details and the big picture, “communicating where we’re at, where we’re going to go, why that plan makes sense, why you should get on board with me.”

Cotellessa also writes about having a mindset of seeing challenges as opportunities. “Challenges really are an opportunity for us to sharpen ourselves, to get better, as an organization to provide better services, to get more strategic, to get more efficient even,” she said.

Trusting your employees is also essential, Cotellessa explained, saying that micromanaging “can really backfire.” She explained that her view of the newer way of leadership is “to be a facilitator of a group process, to harness the knowledge in your team towards a common goal.”

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