Foundations for Good Relationships: Transitions, Trust and Learning

  • Authors: Tracee McPate and Anne Tiernan
  • Format: Occasional Paper
  • Published Date: 18 November 2011


Changes of government or administration raise challenges and opportunities; they are unparalleled opportunities to effect change, to implement new policies and to set the agenda with a comparatively clean slate. However, the ability to exploit these opportunities may be constrained by the relative inexperience of incoming ministers and their private office staff. Several factors may be compounded by the complexity of their operating environments, including: their skills, which may be dated or undeveloped; their lack of relationships and networks within government; and their understanding of government. Under increasing public scrutiny, leaders and their ministers must develop the routines necessary to carry out their leadership and decision-making roles and establish effective and cohesive working relationships, all while learning what it means to be in government.

This paper canvasses the challenges of government transitions. Informed by empirical research and reflections from practitioners at ANZSOG Applied Learning seminars, it focuses on the critical importance of quickly establishing effective, mutually respectful and trusting relationships between ministers, their staff and public service departments. Importantly,it canvasses practical strategies for doing so.

These Occasional Papers are jointly published by ANZSOG and the (former) Victorian State Services Authority.

Suggested citation

McPate, T. and Tiernan, A. (2011). Foundations for Good Relationships: Transitions, Trust and Learning. SSA/ANZSOG Occasional Paper, 18. Melbourne: ANZSOG.