Let Managers Sleep!

Published in Canadian Government Executive magazine and available for download here.

A time-honoured consultant’s tactic is to ask executives what keeps them awake at night. The answer to this simple question often provides a clue as to burning platform from which the seasoned consultant may offer advice on how to solve the executive’s problems. Of course this does not always work. I once witnessed a very experienced government leader answer the question by saying “My dog, my dog keeps me awake at night.” At first I was taken back. I thought he must be kidding, but he wasn’t!

Have you ever wondered what keeps Government of Canada (GOC) middle managers awake at night? I can assure you it is not a pack of dogs. So what is it? Is there a single all-pervasive issue that creates anxiety amongst this important group? A recent research project was designed to answer the question: Does knowledge create value in Government? Specifically, do some types of middle managers report lower levels of information anxiety as a result of knowledge management? (for more information see www.johngirard.net). For the purpose of the study, middle managers were identified as managers in the EX minus 1, EX minus 2, and EX minus 3 categories. In other words, it was the group of managers that will likely enter the executive ranks of the federal government in the coming years.