How to Think Outside of the Box in the Federal Government

Red tape is ever present working in the public sector. As a millennial, a label I wear proudly, I run into red tape on a daily basis. I was feeling frustrated, creatively stifled and thought there was no way to enhance my workplace using my unique skillset and interests. However, it was a few weeks ago that I realized: “If I am bored and think there are no opportunities, I am most likely getting in my own way.”

I got creative, researched, networked and found a few ways to think outside of the box. A month later not only do I have more duties to look forward to, but I find myself more stimulated, engaged and overall satisfied at work. Below are a few of my ideas.

  1. Get involved: The benefit of working in the public sector is that it can be as big or small of an environment as you want it to be. There are numerous committees and initiatives to get involved in to channel your creativity that may not be being used on a day-to-day basis. Determine your interests and passions and find one committee to get involved in. You’d be surprised at how much fun it could actually be. Plus, it is a great networking opportunity.
  2. Pitch ideas to an innovation program: As a government employee, you have more resources to be a change agent than you think. There are a plethora of innovation programs that are tech as well as non-tech centered. Don’t have an affiliation with an innovation program where you work? GREAT! Bring it to your department!
  3. Seek to improve inefficiencies: Seek out inefficiencies in your office and request an opportunity to try a PDSA to improve the issue. PDSA stands for “Plan Do Study Act” and is a Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) tool. This approach shows tremendous initiative and it if works, bosses love it.
  4. Network: Maybe the reason you are feeling bored in your role is because it may not be for you, or you are ready to explore other opportunities. Find a mentor and or individual who works in a role you are interested in and set up a meeting with them. It could be an informal conversation or a more formal meeting over lunch or coffee.

The goal here is to create a habit of seeking more for yourself. This approach may not provide immediate results. Ten pitches may turn into one opportunity. Set an intention to surprise yourself. Step out of your comfort zone with an open mind. You never know what opportunities may come your way!

Priyanka R. Oza is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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