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

Navigating the Jump From Peer to Boss

Of all of the transitions in your career, the most awkward ones occur when you make the jump from peer to boss. I lived through this several times during my career, and now I work with emerging leaders navigating these important and potentially treacherous steps. These tips will help you survive and thrive on the often lonely and dangerous road you take when you make the jump from peer to boss.

1. Accept that everything is different.

Sorry, but you are no longer one of the gang. The conversations won’t be as free flowing and your lunch buddies not as excited to have you tag along with them. You’re the boss, and everyone recognizes your ability to influence their experience in minor or major ways. Steel yourself for this cold slap of reality. Friday’s friends are Monday’s employees.

2. Don’t confuse smiles and congratulations with support.

Not everyone is excited about your promotion. I once left a job and firm I loved over my belief that the wrong person had been promoted into a senior leadership role over me. (In hindsight, I knew that I had to move to grow, but not getting the promotion...

Ten Days, Two Months, One Year: How Soon Can You Fire Someone You Know Was a Bad Hire?

Consider the brief, wondrous White House career of the Mooch.

Ten days after he was hired by US president Donald Trump, Anthony Scaramucci—the bombastic communications director who threatened “to fire everybody” on his team—wound up booted himself. Most bosses won’t have encountered an employee quite like the Mooch, who gleefully bad-mouthed his White House colleagues in a colorful, vulgar interview with a New Yorker reporter. But many managers have faced the dilemma of what to do about a new hire who doesn’t seem to be working out. If a new employee looks like a bad fit, how long should a boss wait before showing them the door?

Ideally, job candidates will have been well-vetted before their start dates. But “hiring isn’t a perfect science,” says Alison Green, a management consultant and author of New York magazine’s popular column “Ask a Manager.” “Sometimes you just hire the wrong person and realize very quickly that it’s not going to work out.”

In such cases, here are a few expert-approved guidelines to consider before va-mooching a new report.

Give new hires time to settle in

If a new employee seems a bit overwhelmed, inefficient, or withdrawn...

You’re Probably Asking For Job References From The Wrong Person

According to conventional wisdom, it’s best to use your former bosses for job references. If you don’t, it may look like you’re hiding a sour past. But a new study suggests that if you want to give a potential employer the most thorough possible view of your abilities, manager recommendations alone won’t suffice.

In a recent study of 20,000 job references, SkillSurvey, an online reference-checking technology firm, analyzed the language used to describe a random sample of 5,000 candidates’ top three work-related strengths and areas for improvement. The candidates were applying for one of jobs at one of 636 different companies across 34 different industries, including higher education, health care, retail, and technology. Feedback from two managers and two co-workers was analyzed for each candidate.

The analysis revealed statistically significant differences in the ways managers and co-workers described the same candidate. Managers were significantly more likely to use language describing task-oriented or “hard” skills (such as reliability, ability to work independently, and having relevant work experience). Co-workers favored words describing interpersonal, or “soft” skills, such as listening, being helpful, and being compassionate.

This trend held steady regardless of where a candidate was in their...

How The FBI Could Get a New Headquarters

Imagine you live in a dilapidated home your family has outgrown. While you don’t have the cash to remodel and expand, the upside is it is located on a prime piece of real estate. Local homebuilders are willing to make a deal: swap your land for another property and they will help offset some of the cost of your new home.

This is exactly the situation the FBI is in with respect to its crumbling headquarters building on Pennsylvania Avenue, blocks from the White House. Yet after a decade of the government pursuing a deal to swap the FBI’s prime real estate for a major portion of the cost of a new, more secure building in Virginia or Maryland, the Trump administration announced that it was calling off the process. It seems the FBI has been hit by outdated federal accounting and budget rules that often stack the deck against commonsense solutions.

Consider the plight of another federal agency, the Transportation Department. By the late 1990s, Transportation’s personnel had outgrown its dated headquarters forcing agency operations into offices scattered across the Washington region. The government’s landlord, the General Services Administration, solved the department’s problem by...

Legal Drug Use And Your Security Clearance

new SF86, the application form used to issue security clearances, is being released this week and will be implemented sometime in August. Many of the changes are procedural and designed to make it easier for individuals to submit complete forms. These changes include updating the options for providing phone information (since the days of everyone having a ‘home’ phone are behind us), a tool to help find school addresses, and a clarification for derivative citizenship (citizenship you obtained via birth, not application).

The two big changes relate to mental health and drug use.

All Drug Use Must Be Noted

The SF86 has always asked about illegal drug use, but the question has become more confusing in recent years with eight states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Many security clearance applicants assume they don’t need to list this legal activity under Section 23 of the SF86, which asks about illegal drug use. In 2013, following the marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, the Office of Personnel Management published a notice to the federal register indicating the plan to clarify what illegal drug use is— and that it includes any drug use that’s still illegal under federal law...