HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

Albert J. Weatherhead III and Richard W. Weatherhead Professor of Public Management, Emeritus


The Merit Systems Protection Board, which produces many excellent studies of workplace management issues in government, has engaged in the push to enhance the quality of first-line federal management by releasing a report titled “A Call to Action: Improving First-Level Supervision of Federal Employees.” Two of the best projects conducted by my second-year students have involved the quality of first-line supervision. In one project, the students asked second-line supervisors to rate the quality of the first-line teams they oversaw. The students found that the better the job the frontline employees felt their first-line supervisor was doing, the higher the rating the second-line supervisor gave for the performance of the frontline team. In another project, the students compared the job perceptions of recent Kennedy School of Government graduates working in the federal government with recent Harvard Business School grads working for Fortune 500 companies. The biggest difference was the perceived quality of their immediate supervisors — no prize for the correct guess about which group was far more satisfied with their supervisors.


Kelman, Steven. "Workforce Morale Can Be Sapped by Unskilled Managers." Federal Computer Week, September 9, 2010.