Roles Young Professionals Play in Recruiting Diversity, Leading Cultural Transformation
Last month Management Concepts, Young Government Leaders, and Blacks In Government (BIG) NOW Generation partnered to host a panel focused on the impact millennials in government can have on recruiting diversity and shaping culture. Our panelists, Christian Blackman of BIG NOW, Manuel Ramirez of USDA FNS, and Rebecca Rose and Miguel Joey Aviles of YGL, offered their advice on how young professionals can lead from their current positions to help their agencies move toward a constructive culture.
The far ranging panel discussion, with great inputs from the audience, covered a variety of topics from which three key themes emerged. Specifically, to influence culture in Federal agencies, millennials should:
- Embrace Your Voice – As a young professional in the Federal government you may find yourself surrounded by more experienced colleagues who can feel more authoritative on issues and challenges facing your organization. However, each individual brings a unique perspective to solving agency challenges based on their background, experiences, and expertise. When you have a unique and well-informed point-of-view, don’t be afraid to speak up. Seize the opportunity to contribute. Remember, you can lead from any position, but you have to be willing to take the risk of putting yourself out there to demonstrate your value to others.
- Be Outcomes-Focused – At the end of the day, to have an impact on the culture of your agency, you must tie the things you advocate for to the things that matter to the organization. It’s vital that young professionals think, act, and speak in terms of how what they are doing and that the change they want to see relates to the mission-driven outcomes of the organization. Using culture to influence the effectiveness of your organization is a much shorter path to change than focusing on culture change alone.
- Find a Sensei – Effecting in an organization requires a keen understanding of politics and influence networks in the organization. As a younger worker who may not have been in the organization for a long time, understanding the landscape of your organization can be a challenge. Seek out a trusted advisor who has a long tenure in the organization that can help you navigate the often treacherous waters of influence. Look for someone who is a willing guide, who offers a different perspective and approach than your own, and who isn’t afraid to offer difficult feedback when it’s warranted. Having a sage guide that understands the influence networks and taboos of your organization will increase your chances of successful change.
As the number of millennials in the workforce grows, the group will have an ability to significantly influence the culture of Federal agencies. Following these three simple tips can help multiply that influence.
Finally, thank you to the United States Department of Agriculture for hosting the event. And special thanks to Ms. Bianca Oden, USDA Deputy Chief of Staff, Mr. Elvis Cordova, Deputy Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, and Mr. Marcus Brownrigg, Deputy Director for the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships for sharing their insights with the attendees.