Management Matters Management MattersManagement Matters
Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

State Department Student Interns Battle a Frustrating Security Clearance Process

Hiring managers recruiting entry-level talent know they don’t just have to sell young people a job, they have to convince them to embark on a hiring process that will push them far outside of their comfort zone. The question isn’t just how can we attract the best talent to government? The question is how can we attract the best students to even consider government, and the cumbersome security clearance process involved?

The security clearance process required for many government positions has never been easy. It’s designed to protect classified information and the interests of the government. But today’s security clearance processing delays are particularly frustrating for young people applying for positions.

A few years ago you could expect an interim security clearance determination in days and a final determination in months. Now you may wait months for even an interim clearance. And the process isn’t likely to get better soon. The National Background Investigations Bureau took over security clearance processing last year and they’ve recently confirmed that new procedures mean 2-3 day determinations are a thing of the past.

If you wonder how this is affecting students, look no further than the Department of...

Psychology Shows It’s a Big Mistake To Base Our Self-Worth on Our Professional Achievements

Contemporary society has some very wrong-headed ideas about what constitutes success. Popular thinking holds that a person who went to Harvard is smarter and better than someone who attended Ohio State; that a father who stays at home with his kids is contributing less to society than a man who works at a Fortune 500 company; that a woman with 200 Instagram followers must be less valuable than a woman with two million.

This notion of success isn’t just elitist and misguided; it actively hurts those who believe it. For my book, The Power of Meaning, I spoke to many people who defined their identity and self-worth by their educational and career achievements. When they succeeded, their lives felt meaningful, and they were happy. But when they failed or struggled, the only thing that gave their lives value was gone—and so they fell into despair, and became convinced they were worthless.

Writing my book taught me that being a successful person isn’t about career achievement or having the most toys. It’s about being a good, wise, and generous human being. Cultivating these qualities, my research showed, brings people a deep and enduring sense of fulfillment, which...

Three Techniques That Helped Me Manage Work-Life Balance On a New Time Zone

Donald Trump on his first trip overseas as US president, paying visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican. While there aren’t a lot of things that I have in common with Trump, I can relate to one challenge he’ll face during this time: life as a manager removed from his home base.

I’m usually based in New York, but over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to work from South Africa and London. Over that time, I’ve come to identify a particular kind of apprehension that I’ll call “time zone anxiety.” It’s a feeling that’s probably familiar to anyone working a few hours ahead or behind their company’s main office.

My work day is generally defined by a list of tasks and meetings that take me through peaks and valleys of productivity. I arrive at work, set about on my tasks, and try to establish a rhythm. And then, bam: New York signs on (or London, or Tokyo, or Beijing). Just as I’m about to reach for my mid-afternoon caffeine hit, that office is about to hit peak energy, demanding my full attention. Or, if I’m...

Sheryl Sandberg on How Having Her Self-Confidence Shattered Made Her a Better Leader

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, implored women to bring their whole selves to work, not just their public and professional selves. If this was tough advice to take from one of the world’s most successful women, it was just as hard for Sandberg to live up to her own standard.

When Dave, her husband, tragically died two years ago, Sandberg was suddenly utterly vulnerable, prone to tears at any moment, and bereft of the public self-confidence she had spent a lifetime building. “I did not think I could do my job,” she said.

“I had no choice but to bring my whole self to work,” she told me in an interview.

Sandberg wrote her second book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, to explain how resilience can be built, and how happiness can come after grief. The book, and the support groups she launched alongside it, offer those, but they also underscore something bigger, about the kind of leadership companies of the future need: connected, and at times, vulnerable.

Vulnerability is hardly a trait many leaders race to embrace; it is not the first word that comes to mind thinking about...

How to Nurture a Successful Mentor and Protégé Relationship

This question originally appeared on QuoraWhat are some of the biggest red flags in an interviewee? Answer by Ian McAllister.

I have several mentors at Amazon, and mentor a number of colleagues. I also mentor a number of startup founders. The most successful of those relationships share these attributes:

Mutually understood goals. Prior to entering into a relationship, the mentee, or the person matchmaking the mentor/mentee should be able to communicate the goals of the relationship. Goals might be to help the mentee get promoted, secure funding, resolve performance issues, improve communication skills, etc. It’s helpful if the mentor also has goals (e.g. gaining deeper understanding in a new space, getting first in line to invest), but the mentee’s goals should take precedence.

Mentee-driven. The mentee should be the person driving the schedule and the discussion topics. Each meeting, the mentee should bring a list of topics for discussion. For each, they should brief their mentor on the topic, present the problem/challenge/opportunity, outline their current thinking about strategy or next steps, and solicit their mentor’s advice. 

Bandwidth-appropriate. Mentors shouldn’t commit to a new mentoring relationship if they don’t have the...

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.