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As we get closer to the Postal Service implosion (?) it is also an opportunity to listen to what employees in the trenches have to say about what is going on inside our troubled agency. None of the politicians ever want to hear from the T-shirt wearing people at the bottom of the organization underrepresented and sweating hard on the regular to hold up our “heavyweights.” For the top echelon bosses that’s where we would flip the script and begin to see the suits begin to perspire like we do as “We the people” begin to speak out about a dysfunctional leadership model.
At the September congressional USPS finances and operations hearing with the Postmaster General, panel 1, Senator Jerry Moran commented to the Postmaster General words to the effect that he hopes he was asking his staff at all levels about efficiency knowing that the best and brightest ideas come from employees doing work on the front lines. The average working man or woman in the engine room knows the answer to that thought would be a resounding H E double hockey sticks (LL) NO!
Senator Lieberman’s opening statement mentioned that we would soon run out of money and we would be forced to severely slash employees and service if something isn’t done. In my mail facility ideas are solicited but they are not welcome! The facility manager offers employees an additional questionnaire at time of Voice of the Employee surveys and the vast majority of those who complete it say they don’t get a response.
There is a “computer blog” at the front door to “ask the plant manager” by publicly and transparently submitting comments, ideas, or suggestions to managers. The unfortunate part of the “blog” is that the facility manger rarely if at all closes the accountability loop. That makes his computer with the trackball nothing more than an esthetic prop. Not answering (ignoring) is all part of that top down stinging form of punishment that stirs up anger in the people who feel feedback is the breakfast of champions. Author Bradford Fitch pointed out in his recent book that “the democratic dialogue is the most important conversation humankind ever conceived.”
On the workroom floor there is talk about reducing head count, eliminating bid assignments, an itching sensation by managers to excess employees out of our facilities, and an inconsiderate lack of concern for the continuous disruption to the lives of our workers and their families. All of this is done in our minds just so a number cruncher can look good on paper, probably resulting in some kind of greedy hidden performance incentive. The reality of this rapidly deteriorating style of management is delayed and un-worked mail everywhere. Then postal managers force “overtime” on non-volunteer employees to work 12 hour days (we got a lot of money.) This indicates there is not enough time to do things right, but there is plenty of time and money to spin our wheels longer.
Their random and unprofessional town halls are filled with one-way banter from managers, scary messages of high dollar losses, complaints about not getting bonuses, and bully-like talk intended to disengage employees. These managers have very limited operational knowledge and talk big and hard to compensate for not knowing what they are doing or how to lead.
Managers don’t know how to hold group discussions to engage employees in solving problems on the workroom floor or anywhere else. Employees are expected to “work” but we are not allowed to make any decisions about what we are doing. It’s an environment of shut-up and throw the mail on the belt, throw the mail in the crate, come over here and do this, go over there and do that. In a single day three different managers will want the same operation run three different ways and the sad part is the managers don’t even talk to each other. If a supervisors dares to speak up they will be chastised or labeled a no team player. All of these elements of the current business model are severely unwarranted and have to stop today.
We can survive in the 21st century if we change the employee engagement model while we are in the process of restructuring everything else. We got employees who have much more diverse backgrounds than many of the handpicked managers. We should focus on creating complementary teams and stop with the top-down style autocracy that is surely eating away at the heart of this enterprise. This is the wrong battlefield for a leader with first name Postmaster, and last name General. The value of mail and the physical connection for our universal customers is critical and anyone who talks that talk is preaching to the choir. How we respect our employees will also have a significant impact on how successful we are while we are redesigning a strategy to get us from implosion (self-destruction) to the explosive innovator of mail services in the 21st century. Discounts applied to the workforce envision words like; disregard, overlook, ignore, disbelieve, reduce, and lower. It should never apply to the people we pay to “Deliver.”
Ronald Williams, Jr.