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FCW : February 2013
February 2013 FCW.COM 19 When Kimberly Hancher became CIO at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, her rst challenge was an upcoming move to a new headquar- ters building. She knew just where to turn for help: her longtime mentor. "The rst 90 days were really, really intense," Hancher said. "There was this big project that my credibility would be based on, staring me right in the face. [My mentor] really helped me through that time." Hancher s mentor, who led an agen- cy similar in size to EEOC, put her in touch with his CIO, who advised her to build management support for maintaining a computer room on-site. EEOC s chief nancial of cer opposed the idea because it would eliminate a planned staff cafeteria. "I had a signi cant difference of opinion with a peer and it was very time sensitive and I m the new kid on the block," Hancher recalled. She made her case by partnering with executives in other program areas who saw the importance of an on-site data center for avoiding disrup- tions to systems that 2,000 employees in the eld relied on versus the 450 headquarters employees who would have access to the cafeteria at the new site. She also went along with other decisions that she viewed as less cru- cial than the computer room. In the end, the planners agreed to a comfort- able lounge rather than a cafeteria, making room for the data center. "Mentorship is incredibly important at every stage of somebody s career," said Dan Chenok, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government and former branch chief for information policy and technolo- gy at the Of ce of Management and Budget. "I had mentors when I was a rst-year staffer at OMB, and I have mentors now that I m an executive at IBM." Mentoring can help individuals bet- ter manage their careers and reach their goals, and they can also help managers retain valuable employ- ees, said Lois Zachary, author of "The BY LINDA M. SPRINGER A strong motivation for political appointees to come to Washington is the opportunity to positively in uence policy --- to make a difference. Senior-level appointees might also bring the expectation of setting a por- tion of the administration's agenda related to their agency's mission. This is particu- larly likely for a rst-time appointee who hasn't previously experienced or operated within the government complex. In fact, the characteristics that enabled executives to set and achieve goals in the private sector --- being decisive, directive, a risk taker --- could undermine their pros- pects for success as government of cials. It is crucial to understand who drives agency policy agendas. The new executive- level appointee must determine whether he or she is in the driver's seat or is a passenger in the agenda-setting process. Regardless of their role, here are some steps that newly appointed leaders can take to be in uential contributors. Step 1: Know what aspects of the agenda have already been set A new administration's agenda has its roots in the presidential campaign, when the candidate is surrounded by advisers who help establish key policy positions. Those positions, particularly if they are associated with speci c actions, are fur- ther developed during the post-election transition period, when the focus expands to include implementation. Unless you are one of those pre- inaugural advisers, the foundation for part or all of your agency's agenda has already been set by someone else, at least direc- tionally, prior to your invitation to join the administration as a political appointee. That is even more likely to be the case in a midterm or second-term appointment. Regardless of timing, the new political leader must be aware of relevant agenda items and related commitments for which he or she will be responsible before try- ing to develop new policies. (Continued on page 20) INFLUENCE POLICY How to make the most of a mentor HOW TO BY KATHERINE REYNOLDS LEWIS
March 15, 2013