This federal government agency is dedicated to building a prosperous and sustainable future for America. With more than 1,600 employees, the agency works to improve the global business environment and helps U.S. organizations compete at home and abroad. With a focus on strengthening U.S. industry and competitiveness and ensuring fair trade, the agency enacts its overarching vision: to foster economic growth through global trade.


The agency confronted multiple challenges: Its annual Human Capital Survey revealed a need to boost employee engagement levels and enhance perceptions of agency leadership. Senior leaders faced communication and teaming obstacles: In some cases, employee interaction proved so infrequent that individuals working on the same floor might not know one another or interact face-to-face. According to the senior operations officer, “We needed to focus on teaming at the highest level with an emphasis on eliminating barriers between business units in order to build unity as an organization.”


Blanchard led the design of a teaming experience for 40 of the agency’s senior executives. The process began with Blanchard’s PERFORM team assessment, which provided a snapshot of the team’s strengths and gaps in the seven areas common to all high-performance teams. The executives then participated in a one-and-a-half day offsite leadership summit to discuss the findings, learn about team member and leader skills, and create action plans for improvement in key areas. The summit offered a unique experience, marking the first time the senior executives had ever been together.


Progress has been made, and the agency recognizes that the change process will continue. “Changing our culture is not an overnight shift,” a spokesperson says, “but we feel good about what we’ve accomplished.” The agency formed several action teams to continue bolstering decision-making, autonomy, and leadership skills, and reports overall improved communications, stronger relationships, and deeper attention to leadership and coaching. Several strategies now exist to promote employee engagement, including focus groups to gauge employee opinions, tool kits to improve hiring practices, and twice-monthly forums where top leaders discuss current organizational initiatives with employees.