A Civil Way To Dissent With Political Appointees
As the topic has come up recently, a few practical ideas have emerged. I don't take credit for these ideas; mostly they're common sense and I'm just sharing. They're grouped into a handful of categories for ease of reference:
1. Designated intermediary
- An office whose job it is to share employee dissent messages at a high level
- An ombudsperson – “complaint central”
- Technology - create a neutral space where concerns can be shared by anyone (for example, a Sharepoint-based “issue tracker”)
2. Written communication, readily available, brief and high-level
- What does your office do? Why is that important? Who are your key partners?
- What are the key laws, regulations, policies, principles and standard operating procedures that govern your functioning?
- What are the ethical considerations that may occur during the normal course of business, and how do you handle those?
3. Training orientations, offered at regular intervals (e.g. a “lunch and learn”)
- Walk through the organizational chart: Who does what, who reports to whom, etc.
- History lesson: How did we get started? How did we evolved? What key events shaped our identity today?
- What are some of the “hot topics” in our world right now? What are the different angles on it?
- What is the culture like around here? What are some things to be aware of?
4. Build up the “trust bank account”
- Ask in advance how to disagree without creating conflict or embarrassment
- When an issue comes up, ask questions first and draw conclusions later
- Model respect and professionalism
- Assume good intent - common ground in your mutual wish to serve the American people.
Copyright 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. Opinions my own. Not intended to explicitly or implicitly represent any government agency, the government as a whole, or any other organization. Public domain photo via Pixabay.