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The Top 7 Traps When Moving from Business to Government

The Top 7 Traps When Moving from Business to Government

Peter Daly and Michael Watkins / Monster.com

Are you considering transitioning from business to government? According to government human resource professionals, you’ll need to watch where you step.

A recent survey of senior public-sector HR executives conducted by us – Peter Daly and Michael Watkins, coauthors of The First 90 Days in Government: Critical Success Strategies for New Public Leaders at all Levels – found that in contrast to business, performance failures can have consequences measured not only by financial standards but by embarrassment and political defeat.

To ensure success, you will want to avoid what more than 100 surveyed senior government HR officials report to be the seven most common traps business people fall into when they move to government.


Trap 1: Failing to Understand Government’s Fishbowl Nature

Many new arrivals are “not able to adapt to the political climate and being in the public eye where you are scrutinized when you make decisions,” says one senior public-sector HR professional in the survey. Leaders in businesses often are shielded from the sort of public, media and political scrutiny and second-guessing that accompanies high-profile government appointments. The admonition that new arrivals hear – “imagine how this will seem on the front page of tomorrow’s newspaper” – is no jest.


Trap 2: Thinking Too Narrowly About Stakeholders


Satisfying everyone is impossible, so creating coalitions is essential. In business, there are shareholders, Wall Street analysts, customers, regulators, partners and employees. In federal government, there are almost 300 million citizens, 535 elected representatives, 3,000 or so members of an elected administration, thousands of special-interest constituencies and lobbyists, unions, regulatory bodies and many others.


Trap 3: Not Grasping How Performance Is Measured


In government, finance is but one measurement to devising a strategy. The bottom line, if one even exists in government, is always trumped by political crises, public policy or constituent pressure. Success often entails tolerating financial conditions that would never be entertained in business.


Trap 4: Underestimating the Constraints


Many new arrivals “attempt to make changes that simply can’t be made because of statutes and regulations,” says another HR professional. Leaders in government do not have the option of selling off an agency that performs poorly. They must change and improve it. Private companies are constructed with change in mind, while government is designed for just the opposite – to remain stable. Agencies are governed by complicated regulations, staffed by people doing narrowly defined tasks and overseen by managers whose responsibility often is to assure that rules are followed.



      

      

      
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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    seeteshsnv

    almost 4 years ago

    6 comments

    Thanks for the nice blog. It was very useful for me. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! Thanks for sharing the such information with us.

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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    seeteshsnv

    almost 4 years ago

    6 comments

    In government, finance is but one measurement to devising a strategy.If one even exists in government, is always trumped by political crises, public policy or constituent pressure. Success often entails tolerating financial conditions that would never be entertained in business.
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    seeteshsnv

    almost 4 years ago

    6 comments

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    rameshrai

    almost 4 years ago

    4 comments

    This is useful article especially for undergraduates and graduate student who don't know in which sector to go. Starting and looking for job after college is very critical and mostly student go for those sector which give them high pay but other things are also important and this post is very useful.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    eddieseaton

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Actually we can get rid of non-performing units (asets) through the current election process when the pain of retaining them is simply unbearable. Closest situation not exactly the same was "Paying homage to the Crown many years ago". So for the time being, it is our duty to bear on our backs what our collective wills do not find the intestinal fortutide necessary to change. Fannie Mae, Fredd Mac and the SEC are ripe for selloff in the far, far, far, distant geo-polictical future. My two cents. MISSISSIPPI2020

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Disco58

    over 4 years ago

    24 comments

    I found the last sentence rather interesting, "Agencies are governed by complicated regulations, staffed by people doing narrowly defined tasks and overseen by managers whose responsibility often is to assure that rules are followed". Work at a nuclear power station some time. As a government controlled private industry I think they are truly the "devil's spawn", where the worst of both worlds intersect. It is a world where they truly believe the axiom, " without rules there would be anarchy". There is nothing more important than the rules, regardless of how inneffective, contradictory or illogical they may be, and it matters not that productivity comes to a screaching halt. Rules are never eliminated; new rules are written that may or may not supecede the previous rule, and a meeting will be held to form a committee to elect a panel to have a discussion on the safety and political ramifications of having the end of toilet paper roll go over or under.

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    rencalago37

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

    stakeholders are always part of the system. for without them we can't do anything. average cost of business insurance

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    rencalago37

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

    stakeholders are always part of the system. for without them we can't do anything. average cost of business insurance

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    WStocks67

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    ..LOL, OMG...Government employees still receive COLA, are you kidding me? and a PENSION, are you kidding me again? Wait, they do not have objectives included in their performance evaluations related to profit or loss, I know you are joking now, right? You better stay over in the greener pasture and continue to eat the grass, astroturf tastes like crap!

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    Imarion

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Leaders in government do not have the option of selling off an agency that performs poorly.PSP torrents

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    echealth

    over 4 years ago

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    rebeccacai

    over 4 years ago

    4 comments

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    placementargent

    over 4 years ago

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    cavla

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    A successful small skirmish is better than a lost campaign, no matter how brilliant it looked.
    I think I grasp the concept of government.
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    ones3lt3r

    over 4 years ago

    2 comments

    A good article that rings true about working for the government. I personally am transitioning from government service to the private sector for these exact reasons. I feel as if I am being underutilized at this point in my career, and due to the slow promotion rates within the system, I will not be in a position to effect change for another 8+ years. More power to persons wishing to move into the government sector. Just remember though, don't do it for the money or the praise, do it for the service. Your ultimate customer is the American people.
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