By Gabe Cash
New leadership, seeking to create an environment where new policies can succeed and endure, must foster a collaborative culture that will unify the organization under a shared set of goals. This is easier said than done. Implementing the effective decision-making structures to do so requires leaders to use feedback mechanisms and communication channels that champion input from employees high, low, long-standing, and new.
New leadership should listen to service providers, managers, and others in close proximity to the issues, who have current understanding of challenges facing an agency. These individuals can also deliver perspective on the impact of previous leadership decisions. This kind of bottom-up input to decision-makers not only improves agency efficiency, but also boosts morale.
New leadership should also encourage consultation and collaboration throughout all levels of experience. Evolving challenges—such as cybersecurity and violent extremism—are best confronted with an approach informed by a diversity of viewpoints, including long standing employees, as well as those both new to the organization or earlier in their careers. Experienced employees have had a front row seat to the best practices and lessons learned of previous interventions. Likewise, the new generation can approach issues without the battle scars from prior efforts and with their differing backgrounds and experiences.
Without effective feedback mechanisms designed to incorporate both of these groups, new leaders will be more likely to duplicate past mistakes and overlook young, innovate mindsets. Junior staff can facilitate this type of engagement. They can start by offering to assist with the project generally, as well as describing their graduate studies, or other experiences, that may enable them to provide a unique viewpoint on the topic. These individuals may be new to a profession, but they can bring knowledge about current frameworks or tools that could prove helpful in tackling emerging issues. Most importantly, new team members should engage through their organization’s communication channels. Active participation in the conversation from the bottom will strengthen intra-agency networks and support a comprehensive dialogue throughout the organization.