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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

Trap 5: Overlooking Nonmonetary Incentives


One of the starkest contrasts between business and government is the differences in incentives for motivating workers. “The biggest trap for successful individuals entering government, is not understanding the structured nature of pay in government,” notes one HR professional in the survey. “Pay raises can only be given based on certain criteria, at a certain time and within the confines of a merit system. This is often a shock to former private-sector employees.” In business, motivation often means sharing in the financial benefits of a successful business plan. In government, financial incentives can conflict with the concept of professionals who carry out policies to best serve the public, not for personal gain. Leaders, therefore, must rely on other tools – a compelling vision, a culture that values and recognizes success, the potential for development and advancement, and the reward of engaged teamwork – that are more difficult to design.


Trap 6: Overestimating Control Over Critical Resources


Acquiring resources in government is heavily regulated by Cabinet agencies and Congress, creating a competitive environment where agencies not only vie against each other but must engage the political process and gain the support of allies. Even when support is strong, acquiring quick infusions of people, facilities or technology is unlikely, given complex personnel and procurement rules. Most new government leaders must start off largely with the resources they inherited.


Trap 7: Expecting Government to Move as Fast as Business


New arrivals from business “believe they can make change happen quickly,” says another survey respondent. “When they find out that they cannot make that change as quickly as they’d like, discouragement sets in.” Government’s rhythms are different from the quarterly and annual reporting deadlines of business. So for new leaders, getting up to speed could take longer than six months, which is typical in business. Still, they are not insulated from the impatience of stakeholders and are likely to face pressures for early wins. Targets for such wins should be selected wisely, despite insistence from some quarters for rapid action, because when they are met, they increase credibility and build momentum for success with longer-term changes.

Success in avoiding these traps will position you to get off to a good start and build personal credibility. If you fall into one, however, it will set up a vicious cycle that will consume your precious time and energy; it could even contribute to derailment.

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    Jakub

    about 4 years ago

    2 comments

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    shadowpope17

    about 4 years ago

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    Hmm, I have to agree with most of whats been said in this article. Thanks for sharing.

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    about 4 years ago

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    A major obstacle that I encountered when I moved the focus of some of my projects (de-websites.com">otimização de sites, desentupidora, iluminação, acompanhantes, relogio de ponto) to meet the government was bureaucracy. The procedures are extremely bureaucratic which is very time consuming. It is a NCESS expert advice in this area for guidance. Thanks!

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    over 4 years ago

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    I just completed a securuty cleareance test, what were the results?

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    Bluehealer

    almost 5 years ago

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    I work for the government and this sure hits the spot, You are absolutly dead on target with this message.

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    Pydynkowsky1951

    about 5 years ago

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    1. Don't write, say, or do anything you wouldn't want the world to see.
    2. Pick your allies carefully.
    3 & 6. The better you perform in your job, and department, the more likely someone will say, "They're doing a bang-up job in Blah Department. They don't need anything." If it works, don't mess with it.
    4. Maintain the status quo.
    5. Serving the public is its own reward. There is no "I" in team.
    7. Know what SLOW means? AND Pick your battles very carefully. A successful small skirmish is better than a lost campaign, no matter how brilliant it looked.
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    Micha25

    over 5 years ago

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    This is very important and useful information

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