Promising Practices Promising PracticesPromising Practices
A forum for government's best ideas and most innovative leaders.

How to Deal With a New Boss

Adjusting to a new boss is never easy. It’s a lot harder when the new guy has spent years vilifying your last boss, and smear the work of you and your colleagues.

Yet that’s the predicament facing about 50 holdovers from the Obama administration who will be working for Donald Trump starting today after he becomes the 45th president of the United States. Most of them are in essential State Department and national security positions (paywall).

Most of them expect to be replaced in the coming weeks and months. But if they want a healthy working relationship with Trump, they would be wise to follow some basic principles that all employees can use when adjusting to a new manager.

  • Get off on the right foot. First impressions matter, and you want to make a good one. Be welcoming and look for common ground that might help break the ice
  • Be empathetic. You new boss will have lots to learn, and will need help getting up speed. Try to anticipate what will make their job easier. Karen Dillon, the former editor of the Harvard Business Review, recalled that when she was a new boss, one of the new employees...

Neuroscience Shows That Stress Can Actually Make You Better are Your Job

Helen felt a thumping in her chest and a knot of tension in her stomach. She had been dreading this meeting—but she simply had to confront her boss about her impossible workload.

Her boss was not a man suffused with empathy and compassion for his underlings. She feared the consequences of speaking up. But the unremitting pressure of work had left her little time for herself.

As the 10am meeting time approached, a stream of panicky thoughts flooded through her mind. What if he flew into a rage? What if she got fired? What would she tell her family?

But with five minutes to go before the meeting, Helen remembered: Stress like this could actually be a form of energy that would help her get what she wanted. Here is what she did, and why.

She took a deep breath

Helen closed her eyes and breathed in slowly to the count of five, then out to the count of five. She let her attention slowly follow her breath, in and out. She repeated this cycle two more times.

She felt different right away. Why? Because she had changed the chemistry of her brain, and, in particular, the activity of...

From Fear to Compassion: Wisdom from the Dalai Lama

Your work as a leader is stressful, with too much on your plate. This constant stress causes you to experience a never-ending fear of failure. Sound familiar?

It’s a terrible way to live and the situation is impacting your health. Cortisol is pouring into your system, causing poor decisions, increasing blood sugar levels, disrupting sleep. The list of negative physical effects goes on and on.

Yet researchers have found that it’s not the fear alone that can create this outcome; it’s how you react to it. Your immediate thought may be to shove your fear aside and just keep going. The Dalai Lama suggests that you might consider a less direct way to manage your stress and underlying fear.

The Dalai Lama was forced from his home in Tibet and his life away from his home hasn’t been easy. Yet he is known as one of the most joyful people alive. Sure, he is a lifelong meditator, but that doesn’t make fear go away. In The Book of Joy (with his Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu), the Dalai Lama discusses how he manages his own fears.

When he experiences stress or fear...

Quit Waiting for Someone to Show Up

I grew up in a home where I was “Somebody, ” and my brother was “Anybody.” When Mom shouted, “Will Somebody please take out the garbage,” it was a statement, not a question, and I jumped to attention. If the question was, “Did Anybody feed the rabbit?” my brother was on the hook.

Of course, the somebody/anybody labels were an inside family joke, but unlike in most organizational settings, there was always accountability for action. No one would sit around actually wondering whether Somebody was going to step up to solving the problem or whether Anybody cared enough to fix the issue. Garbage was taken out, the rabbit lived a long, well-fed life, toys were picked up, and chores never lingered. Nothing was swept under the carpet until the mythical “Someone” decided to show up.

A few years ago, I wrote a short post describing the phenomenon of a group of office workers sipping coffee and observing the fact that the garbage can in the corner was smoldering. They talked about it, debated the implications of it and genuinely expressed hope that Someone would take care of it. And then they went back to their desks.

Sadly, I see some...

The Twisted Psychology of Office Cliques

Michael Scott and the Beast have a lot in common. Both The Office protagonist and the Disney cartoon character have copious chest hair—and both are achingly alone.

But whereas the Beast broods in isolation, Michael Scott is desperate for company. His plight is sympathetic: Anyone who’s survived high school, or even started a new job at an office, knows how important it is to feel accepted by our peers. But science shows that there are a lot of things that can go wrong when people try to fit in.

It’s no exaggeration to see social rejection as suffering. It generates feelings of humiliation, shame and crushes self-esteem. Neuroscientific research shows it actually activates brain areas associated with physical pain. And while it’s true that different genders respond to rejection differently, with women working harder to be accepted and men saving face by disengaging, it stings either way. The trouble is, some strategies for dealing with that sting can just make matters worse.

One strategy is to desperately double-down on ingratiation by going to lengths that are borderline—or outright—unethical. Michael Scott constantly engages in unwelcome workplace antics just to be liked. Jim Carrey’s Cable...

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

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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