Browsing: Uncategorized

Melting icy coworkers

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Suppose you suspect that a manager or colleague is holding a grudge against you for no explicable reason. Perhaps this person seems to, for example, behave coldly or chronically irritated with you, avoid you and/or does not assign you desirable projects. How can you improve the relationship? First, re-evaluate: Consider whether your manager/colleague is really snubbing you, or is indiscriminately cranky, aloof or social inept with everyone, is shy, or is coping with personal problems. Also, consider whether you may have inadvertently harmed your relationship with him by, for example, being standoffish because you’re consciously or unconsciously intimated or you’re…

Earning a great review

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It’s that time of year again, when birds start singing, buds start sprouting, the days lengthen … and staffers in many federal agencies receive their annual evaluations. So it’s also time to review techniques for earning great annual reviews: Update: Throughout the year, update your boss on your projects every couple of weeks via emails or brief meetings. If you anticipate possibly missing deadlines or encountering other show-stopping problems, tell your boss about them when there is still enough time for trouble-shooting. Also, inform your boss about praise you receive from other managers, partners, stakeholders, instructors, clients, or other important…

Surviving probation, part 2

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My Oct. 21 column provided tips on successfully completing probation on a new federal job. Here are more tips: Be aware that the strictness of criteria for passing probation varies among agencies, offices and supervisors. But even if your particular environment has a lenient history, don’t take anything for granted. When you start your job, ask your new boss who you will be working with most closely, and then find and introduce yourself to those people. Also, obtain the organizational charts of your agency and relevant offices, and familiarize yourself with the names and faces on those charts. Work to…

Use your work emails effectively

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Treat your federal email account as public property, because it is: Any of your emails can be read by your agency or FOIA’d at any time. So never include potentially incriminating, embarrassing or personally confidential information in work emails. Check the first and last name of the recipient of each of your emails before sending or forwarding it. A cautionary tale: I previously worked with a federal manager who used his government account to send a friend an email that cruelly disparaged one of his colleagues. But immediately after hitting “send,” the manager realized that he had accidentally sent the…

Writing effective emails

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The faster and more easily a document can be read and understood, the more likely it is to be read and understood. Convey messages with as few words as possible and ruthlessly deleting unnecessary information without cutting essential background information. Open your first email to a new contact with a concise introduction that quickly conveys context. For example: “Dear Joe: Lily Whiteman here from Federal Times. X suggested that I contact you as part of my search for information about Y.” Get to the point quickly: Explain what needs to be done, by whom and when within the first few…

Simplicity, clarity mark effective PowerPoint presentation

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When it comes to public speaking, “less is more.” The simpler a presentation is, the clearer and more memorable it will be — and the more time needed to prepare it. Unfortunately, this principle is apparently underappreciated. According to a survey quoted in the book “Resonate” by Nancy Duarte, 86 percent of executives say communicating with clarity directly affects their career and income, but only 25 percent of executives devote more than two hours to preparing for high-stakes presentations. Tips for crafting simple, clear, memorable PowerPoint slides: Solicit advice on your presentation from people who have addressed your target audience.…

Tell success story in SES application

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Most applicants for the Senior Executive Service hastily slap together application essays that are long, disjointed lists describing general achievements. The problem? Their essays are about as interesting, impressive and memorable as a stranger’s mile-long “to-do” list. My advice, based on my experience serving on many federal hiring panels and coaching hundreds of feds: Structure your essays around blockbuster success stories — descriptions of how you accomplished concrete, specific, important, big-picture goals or solved show-stopping, vexing problems that parallel the responsibilities of your target job. Your success stories will be compelling because,  unlike achievement lists,  they will be conceptually united…

How to write essays that will get you into SES

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If you’re like most applicants to the Senior Executive Service, you would rather eat glass than answer those odious essay questions in SES applications. Nevertheless, answer them you must, and it is virtually impossible to do so quickly and succeed. So if you’re unwilling to spoil an otherwise enjoyable weekend — or longer — with essay writing, you will probably lose your SES competition to a more self-sacrificing competitor. Conversely, if you give your essays their due, you’ll probably vault ahead of your competition. Tips for crafting winning SES essays: Read essay requirements and sample essays in the Office of…

How to become a Presidential Management Fellow

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The Presidential Management Fellows program will continue to operate, despite budget cutbacks, because agencies must continue to grow new leaders and conduct succession planning, Angela Bailey, the Office of Personnel Management’s associate director of employee services, said in an interview. So if you’re qualified to join the PMF program, apply. Don’t bypass the program on the wrongful assumption that it will be a casualty of cutbacks. Although attorneys and policy wonks are, as always, welcome to apply, technical specialists  — in health and in information technology fields such as cybersecurity and software engineering — are in particularly high demand. The…

How to qualify for the Senior Executive Service

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Do you think you are or could become executive material? If so, consider aiming for the Senior Executive Service. Some SES jobs are open only to GS-15s or above and their equivalents, but others are also open to GS-14s and their equivalents. Before moving into an SES job, you will need to obtain certification of your leadership skills from a Qualifications Review Board (QRB) — an independent board administered by the Office of Personnel Management and composed of SES members. QRBs base their certification decisions on five Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): leading change, leading people, results-driven, business acumen and building…

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