05/16/2014 10:26 am ET Updated Jul 16, 2014

OPM Director Katherine Archuleta on Strengthening the Federal Workforce

Katherine Archuleta is the director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the federal government's human resources agency. Archuleta has had a long career in government, holding key staff positions in the Departments of Transportation and Energy during the Clinton administration and in the Department of Labor during the Obama administration.

Archuleta spoke about her efforts to strengthen the federal workforce with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.

Q. What is the single most important thing you've learned since becoming director of the Office of Personnel Management?

A. Something that I've done since the beginning of my tenure is to reach out every day to individual employees. It's been a tough time for employees -- they've faced furloughs, sequestration, a shutdown and budget cuts. When I first started, I expected to hear a lot of concern in their voices and words about how tough it is for them. But when I ask how they're doing, they talk about their work with a wonderful sense of dedication and commitment. That's been a very important eye-opener for me.