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

A Guide For Crafting A Seamless Vacation, From Packing To Returning To Work

It’s August, also known as summer’s third act, the pre-September pause, and the “out of office” email’s moment to shine. For many people, this is the month to go on vacation, with all the excitement, relaxation, and—if we’re being honest—anticipatory stress that can entail.

At Quartzy, we love going on vacation, and our writers have been busy sharing the lessons they’ve learned everywhere from Cape Cod and Milan to their own backyards and beyond. Here is our guide to going on vacation.

Where to Go

Go nowhere at all. If your goal is rest and rejuvenation this August, why bother with airports and unfamiliar surroundings? Just live your best life right at home.

Go somewhere where the locals barely notice you’re there. If you want to avoid the tourist track, travel somewhere where you won’t have to work too hard to get off of it.

Go somewhere where you can stay in a tiny hotel. Not quite a fully fledged hotel, and yet not an unserviced Airbnb, the new trend of tiny hotels gives you local flavor and the pleasure of a hotel bar.

What to Bring

Choosing the perfect beach...

The Trick To Staying Close To Coworkers When You Work From Home

At the moment, I am about 245 miles (394 km) from the majority of my coworkers in New York. I’m almost 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away from my direct supervisor in San Francisco, and more than 3,600 miles (5,700 km) away from one of my favorite teammates in London. But, thanks to the internet, I never feel that far away.

The trick to maintaining this feeling of proximity in the face of distance? Specific, intentional communication. Just as you make a point to tell your boss what you’re working on, you need to think of chatting with your closest coworkers as part of your job. While snippets of small talk are not overtly part of your job description, working seamlessly together usually comes down to having strong bonds. And building those bonds is often a matter of small interactions. Being remote means you just have to think about how to best use your available forms of communication to structure those interactions wisely.

Make yourself known

When I first started working at Quartz three years ago, I spent three months in the New York office. At the time, I was not particularly social with my...

How To Be Assertive—Even When You’re Constantly Talked Over

Aggressive people are hostile, adopting the “my way or the highway” stance. Passive people give up their power and are easily taken advantage of, which creates a surefire recipe for burnout and resentment. You want to be the happy medium—an assertive person.

Assertive people seek out win-win scenarios and make their desires and beliefs known. Confident and assured, they approach situations with a healthy dose of objectivity, and as a result, are able to communicate clearly and directly in a low-drama, self-respecting way.

Being assertive is effective. One Stanford study found that women who used confidence and assertiveness skills, combined with relationship-oriented traits like empathy, were promoted more often than women who used only relationship-oriented skills. They also advanced more quickly than men.

Unfortunately, women face barriers to projecting assertiveness at work. Messages from our families, schooling, and society urge women to be likable and agreeable, and this expectation helps create adouble bind: If a woman speaks up, she risks being called ”bitchy” or mean. However, if she stays quiet, then she may be overlooked for opportunities or cast as the office pushover.

Many women have stumbled upon tools like talking sticks or shine theory to get their...

How to Get Millennials into Government

Millennials remain one of the most socially-minded generations of Americas. Still, their presence in government—an institution that at its core is designed to promote the general welfare—lags far behind the private sector. Critically, millennials comprise less than 10 percent of information technology employees in the government, according to the Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope data. They note that more than one-third of the federal government’s IT workers are age 55 or older. In fact, more federal tech workers are over age 60 than are under 35, governmentwide. For the public sector to move into the digital age, agencies must recruit and retain young tech talent by recognizing what millennials want in a workplace.

Most millennials go to work for the private sector and avoid the government’s antiquated systems and rigid hierarchy. But there’s no better generation to help lead agencies’ shift to digitization than the one with both savvy technological capabilities and the passion for social good. Agencies can court millennials for public service by taking these critical steps:

Focus on meaningful opportunities. Not every project needs to be (or can be) a mission to Mars, but that doesn’t mean other initiatives and...

Smart Companies Hire People Who Don’t Believe In Their Mission

In modern-day management, there’s a whole lot of hoopla around mission statements. Your mission should sit alongside unique values (see Mark Zuckerberg’s tips on that) that together offer a vision for a world changed, however narrowly, by whatever your company makes, sells, or promises.

Believing in a mission is insufficient nowadays. Your employees (each and every one of them!) should ingest, live, and breathe said mission—preferably so much so that given one year left to live, they would choose to spend it working at your company, as Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has suggested. If your mission fails, you fail. And if an employee doesn’t rally around your mission, they’ll hold you back.

Not so fast, says Adam Grant, the organizational psychologist and Wharton professor, and author of Originals: How Non-Conformists Rule the World.

Writing in the July 2018 edition of “Wondering,” a monthly feature on his website, Grant responds to a reader who asks whether companies should only hire people who are aligned with their purpose (aka mission). His response: “I’m with Aristotle (and Goldilocks): as with just about everything in life, you can have too much of a good thing.”

Hire too few...