Welcoming New Appointees during the Presidential Transition?

January 11, 2017 in
By FMP Staff

Take Note of these 3 Considerations for Effective Integration

As Inauguration Day is quickly approaching, the President-elect is busy selecting the more than 4,000 appointments that need to be filled. With the large influx of individuals into almost every department and agency, it is vital that this process is successful to ensure a smooth transition of power. Agency officers must strategically take steps to prepare. And, there is no better time than now to ensure your agency is providing new appointees with the right tools and knowledge for success.

But, what exactly does it take to be successful? A 2008 study published by the National Academy of Public Administration, the Partnership for Public Service, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute found appointees cited their success depended heavily on 1) knowledge of the agency’s policies and processes, 2) support for the goals of the agency political leaders, and 3) an understanding of the agency’s internal culture.1

Therefore, in the next post of FMP Consulting’s Presidential Transition blog series, we outline three important considerations for agency leadership as new political appointees join the workforce.

  • First Impressions Matter. It is critical that appointees joining your agency have the information and materials needed to succeed in their new role from day one. Remember, appointees will likely not be familiar with your processes and systems. In fact, for many, this may be their first time working in a federal government agency. The Center for Presidential Transition suggests information sharing with new appointees should include, at a minimum, basic organizational structure, performance goals, major policies, and legal and infrastructure challenges.2 Not sure where to start? FMP can support this by partnering with your agency to develop key briefings that effectively communicate critical information and streamlined standard operating procedures (SOPs) which provide a clear understanding of your agency’s systems and processes.
  • Focus on the Mission. An organization’s mission defines its purpose and overall objectives; it plays a critical role in driving the organization forward and provides meaning for the policies and initiatives undertaken. As such, ensuring new appointees have a true understanding of your agency’s mission is key to successful integration. Upon onboarding, it is critical that key stakeholders communicate your agency’s mission, vision, and core values to appointees. Demonstrate how each of these is clearly interwoven into your agency’s every day work. FMP can support these efforts by outlining key orientation activities and supporting development of critical messages that articulate your agency’s mission.
  • Acculturate Early On. Every agency or department has unique operating culture that permeates to each employee and operation in the workforce. Looking to the private sector, Harvard Business Review estimates that the majority of executives fail due to poor acculturation.3 Therefore, it is critical that agency leadership support new executive appointees by outlining unique cultural dynamics and outlining the associated behaviors linked to these dynamics. Our team of consultants can partner with your agency to assess, identify, and communicate your culture to new appointees

Undertaking these first steps will help your agency get off on the right path as new appointees integrate into the workforce. However, it is critical that each agency continue to take proactive and strategic steps to ensure a successful transition of power. Remember, the transition does not end after Inauguration Day. FMP Consulting has the expertise needed to skillfully guide your agency during every stage of the presidential transition. Contact us to see how we can craft a tailored approach to supporting your new appointees’ success, even after Inauguration Day.

Don’t forget to check back after January 20th for the continuation of our Presidential Transition blog series!

[1] DeSeve, C.E. (2009). Speeding up the learning curve: Observations from a survey of seasoned political appointees. http://www.businessofgovernment.org/sites/default/files/SurveyPoliticals.pdf

[2] The Center for Presidential Transition. Presidential Transition Timeline: Federal Agencies. http://presidentialtransition.org/timeline/agencies/index.php

[3] Watkins, M.D. (2007). Help newly hired executives adapt quickly. https://hbr.org/2007/06/help-newly-hired-executives-adapt-quickly