A 16-week training course for federal supervisors shows potential to improve organizational culture and performance

Diagram for great managers

Diagram for great managers

What was the challenge?

Responses to OPM’s 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) suggest that improvement is still needed to achieve high employee engagement and satisfaction. Improving the quality of first-level supervision and the direct relationship between an employee and manager is one of the most effective ways to improve organizational culture and performance. The Performance Improvement Council (PIC) designed a 16-week self-paced training course for Federal managers based off of best practices including Google’s tested Project Oxygen.

What was the program change?

Research is emerging to demonstrate that priming a growth mindset, or the belief that an individual can develop their intelligence over time, in front-line managers, can support a culture that leads to innovation and increased productivity. We developed a set of growth mindset learning tools embedded in the PIC training.

How did the evaluation work?

Approximately 300 federal managers at the Departments of Labor and Energy were emailed materials on a bi-weekly basis. We paired together managers with the same gender, GS-level, employee characteristics, and employee-assessment baseline score created from 14 assessment questions asked of their employees in the baseline. One manager in each pair was randomly assigned to receive the growth mindset materials.


What was the impact?

The Growth Mindset tools did not have any detectable effect on employee or self-assessments, although the effects are imprecisely measured due to employee and manager survey response rates. As this is a no-cost intervention, and seems promising from the private sector, PIC and OES are continuing to explore ways to adapt the intervention and conduct a more rigorous evaluation.





Project Type

Impact evaluation of program change


General Services Administration


Government Efficiency

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