Executive Suite: Preparing for post-election

Mimi Browning

New political ap-pointees will find themselves inundated with advice after any election. But the changing of the guard also provides numerous opportunities for career professionals to secure the status quo, set the stage for change or do a bit of both.

Depending onwhat you want to accomplish, the following tips will enable a smooth, productive transition:
  • Showcase your basic mission. Administration leaders, reappointed or new, want to understand your mission and how well you are performing. Be able to clearly state your mission and, even better, be able to demonstrate through metrics how you are achieving that mission.
    In addition, it is always wise to offer goals and objectives for the upcoming year.

  • Strengthen your organization. The best time to implement change or to advocate the status quo is when you are a strong, stable organization. Thus, this interim period'November through June'is a great time to strengthen your organization.
    Consider promoting or hiring exceptional people (you never know when a hiring freeze will be imposed), making organizational alignments you may have been reluctant to undertake in the past, and assuring that individual and organizational training and certifications are current.
    Now is not the time for big change but rather for change at the margin. If you do nothing during this interim period, you may become a target for unwanted change!

  • Prepare for the new leaders. Dust off and update briefings, organization charts and technology demonstrations. Make sure they are in readable English'eliminate acronyms, technology jargon and complexity.

The best bet for your first presentation to a new appointee is to have one briefing chart that succinctly illustrates your main vision or theme. Subsequent charts can explain in detail. Perhaps most important, demonstrate your listening skills.
  • Take advantage of small 'open windows.' If you've always wanted to change a bothersome internal procedure, consider doing so now.

  • We're not talking here about abolishing a major section of the tax code or going to a 34-hour workweek, but it may be possible to eliminate excess baggage that has found its way into the system. For example, if it takes six months and 17 signatures to approve a computer system that costs less than $5 million, consider revising the procedure before it can be institutionalized by the new regime.
  • Maintain strong relationships. During changing times, strong organizational and professional relationships are keys to success and sanity.

Stronger-than-usual collaboration within an agency will help assure success on common projects and challenges. Also strengthen ties with such external organizations as other government agencies, contractors and Congress.

Lastly, now is an especially good time to network and be both personally and professionally visible. No one can predict the future, but yours is best built on a solid foundation of professional and personal colleagues who know and trust you.

Mimi Browning is a former Army executive who is a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. of McLean, Va. Contact her at browning_miriam@bah.com.

About the Author

Browning is a former Army senior executives and former Booz Allen Hamilton principal who now leads Browning Consultants.

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