Institute a performance management system. Most congressional offices use a haphazard approach to managing staff, intervening only when problems arise. By investing wholeheartedly in the development of staff, members and managers can create a better office and achieve greater goals. This is not a once-a-year review process — it requires year-round communications and feedback to employees. The system should focus on the professional goals of the staff and the office and how they interrelate. Employees should work with managers to set personal goals, and review meetings are those opportunities to assess progress.
There’s good news and bad news for members and managers as they assess the job satisfaction and engagement of their staffs. The good news is that congressional staffers are a highly engaged workforce. The bad news is they’re highly engaged employees who also require a commensurate level of engagement by their bosses.
Bradford Fitch is the president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization serving Congress and its members with operational guidance and research.
Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.