Jumping from private sector to public service
We received great questions this week - thanks for the dialogue! Please continue to share your ideas and suggestions for the column and send in your questions to the email@example.com. Remember, it's anonymous!
Q. I'm a new leader supervising more experienced staff who previously served as informal mentors, and I feel awkward. Any tips?
A. Since your colleagues were great informal mentors, I imagine they will be interested in helping you succeed.
Remember too that presumably you were selected for this job as a result of your impressive management and leadership abilities. That's a good thing, not a bad thing, and you should feel confident in your new role.
Here is what I recommend: Sit down with each colleague one-on-one and listen to their ideas and feedback. Don't act like a know-it-all - act like a team leader. In collaboration with them, figure out where your team's strengths are and what each team member can own.
Q. We have a new Commissioner who is inflaming some long-term conflicts between two teams within the agency. As a mid-level leader, how can I resolve this issue and help our teams work together more effectively?
A. I give you tremendous credit for identifying this problem and being willing to help resolve the conflict. Although this is difficult, there is hope.
Situations like this require collaboration. As a mid-level leader caught in the conflict, you lack the authority to resolve this issue on your own. I suggest that you find some colleagues - on both teams, if possible - who agree there needs to be a resolution.
Collectively, consider seeking a resource to help organize and facilitate a joint session to clear the air. This resource may exist within your agency such as a talented HR specialist, a professional mediator or a trusted executive. You might also consider tapping into your network for an external resource to help resolve the conflict.
Last year, I worked with a mid-level leader around a similar situation, and although it remains a work in progress, the relationships at her agency are now more healthy and productive because of collaboration.
Q. Why does it feel like the federal government discourages private sector folks from applying to jobs in the public sector? I have 15 years of private sector experience that could come in handy, but I don't know how to engage.
A. Government processes and hiring procedures tend to discourage external applicants. Job announcements are often confusing, and the application review process takes too long and lacks transparency. Only half of all federal job openings are even made available to non-government candidates.
There is good news, however. As baby boomers retire en masse, the government is increasingly aware of its need for experienced talent like you. Take advantage of this opportunity!
The first two challenges that you will face are translating your experience for the federal sector and figuring out what GS level of government job you should seek. There are many great resources that can help you do both of these things. Spend some time on USAJOBS.gov reading job descriptions to figure out what you might be qualified to do.
You can also take a look at these two resources: Get Hired! How to Land the Ideal Federal Job and Negotiate a Top Salary, by Lily Whiteman, and Ten Steps to a Federal Job, by Kathryn Kraemer Troutman. The Partnership for Public Service's Web site offers advice for job seekers too at ourpublicservice.org/fedexperience.
Be prepared to wait after you apply. The opportunity to make a difference is worth the wait for most people.
April 9, 2010; 6:59 AM ET |
Ask the Federal Coach
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