Batten down the hatches - a new Administration is on the way: How mid-level leaders in the federal government can prepare their teams for change

No matter how things shake out this November, one thing is certain - a new Administration will be moving into the Oval Office. It’s no secret that the new Administration, regardless of which party they represent, will make a large number of political appointments at senior leadership levels throughout the federal government. In fact, the United States has more political appointees than any other industrialized democracy. The virtues of the political appointee system have been debated for decades, if not centuries (when they were referred to as Spoils or Patronage). Efficiency of the system aside, mid-level leaders in the federal government are expected to continue delivering value to the American public in the midst of sometimes sweeping changes in agency direction, vision, and priorities. Here are three things that mid-level government leaders can do now to prepare their teams for the change:

  1. Reevaluate your organization’s strategic plan and organize it into near-term, midterm, and long-term strategic objectives or goals that you hope to achieve. These goals should be grounded in the value you are providing your stakeholders and the impact your work is making. Make them achievable and measurable. Communicate them to leadership early and often.
  1. Get buy-in from your stakeholders. The most important thing you can do to ensure your organization’s vision continues to be a priority for senior leadership is to build support within your key stakeholder communities. Engage with them at every step of your processes and projects. Bring them to the table and truly listen to what they need and want from your organization. Keep them engaged and they will become your biggest champions. Your organization’s impact will increase exponentially and your strategic objectives will have traceability and grassroots support, making them difficult to abandon by new leadership.
  1. Create momentum by executing an implementation strategy. Don’t wait until new leadership is in place to execute your strategic plan. Create an implementation strategy that lays out your 30, 60, 90, or 120-Day Plan. After all, objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Your organization can be creating immediate wins for new leadership to be proud of and rally behind. Be sure that your implementation strategy is flexible and can adapt to small shifts while remaining relevant.

There is no way to avoid the impending changes on the horizon. Mid-level government leaders should be preparing their teams now to ensure that no matter what happens after Inauguration Day, their programs are aligned with stakeholder needs and their teams are empowered to deliver regardless of an ever-shifting leadership landscape.