THE MISERABLE MORALE MORASS

The results of the 2018 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) will be announced soon. You completed the survey, didn’t you? Or perhaps you didn’t, because your morale is so low and, after years of completing these surveys, hoping upon hope that they would make a difference, you realize that the Agency’s high-ranking officials (let’s not call them leaders) are unable and unwilling to raise morale and the surveys did not make any significant difference.

You didn’t need a calendar anymore to know when FEVS season came around – all of a sudden the Agency began prioritizing internal communication in the hope that maybe the survey numbers will tick up in some categories so it can claim, as it always does, that “we are headed in the right direction.” This year, we got 3 x 5 multi-colored cards titled “Set the Direction.” The cards encouraged us to complete the survey to “help build the road-map to improve our Agency.” The Agency’s top officials, bereft of credibility, lessened that credibility even more with a statement like that. Does anyone believe the survey results will be used as a road-map to improve the agency? Anyone? Years and years of surveys haven’t resulted in raised morale. Why would this survey do so? According to last year’s survey results the BBG remained in last place among mid-sized federal agencies and VOA ranked near the bottom of hundreds of sub-agencies. BBG and VOA have been bottom-dwellers for years, despite the (half-hearted) efforts on the part of Agency officials to raise morale. Virtually everything they have done has failed.

The card listed “just few initiatives” (the “a” was left out; good proofreading job there!) “that were developed based on FEVS feedback.” It then goes on to list eight initiatives; many of them are thin, some of them seem to exist only on paper, and all of them exist in a healthy agency – feedback or not. Agency officials seem to want credit for implementing initiatives as a result of FEVS feedback which should have been in place regardless of the FEVS!

What’s next, credit for the building having a roof? Credit for clean water, heat and AC? These hapless officials seem to want credit for implementing ideas that a good leader would have long ago put in place. As important and even substantial as a few of the initiatives are, to give credit to FEVS feedback for implementing them reveals the officials for what they are – incompetent, unimaginative and devoid of initiative.

We don’t need any more surveys or ice cream socials or promises. We need action and strong, imaginative, bold and competent leaders.

Don’t list as an accomplishment that you created the Office of Workforce Support & Development. This office should have been set up years ago.

Don’t ask for plaudits for increasing funding for the awards program; fully funded awards programs should have been in place years ago. Agencies that rank high in the FEVS surveys have robust awards programs.

Finally, after years of our pleading, the Agency has increased its training budget, another initiative the Agency credits to FEVS feedback. After much prompting by AFGE Local 1812, the Agency brought in TSP trainers (both in Washington and Miami). The classes were wildly popular. Why did it take Union pressure for the Agency to do what it should have been doing all along? You can’t just say you care about employees – you have to actually take action that shows employees you care about them. And recently, after more Union pressure, the Agency has agreed to offer classroom training on federal benefits for new, mid-career and soon-to-retire employees. Kudos, but why did it take pressure from the Union for these classes to be scheduled?

The Agency seems to want credit for implementing WebTA. The system seems popular among employees, but should have been implemented a decade ago. Why is this listed as something the Agency wants credit for?

ePerformance is listed, as well. Again, the Agency wants compliments for instituting an electronic system to replace a paper-based system. This should have been done at least ten years ago. You want credit for putting something in place ten years after you should have done so? Really?

We are told that Workplace, an internal Facebook, has been launched to improve internal communication. Yet it is no better than email, and few have signed on. The Cohen building network external Facebook page is much more popular, more trusted and more robust. We cringe at the thought of the cost to create, implement and operate Workplace.

As well, we are told that full-time staff have been designated to support internal communication. Who are they? What do they do? What have they accomplished?

Perhaps the most egregious example of an initiative claimed by the Agency is Leadership 20/20 and 360 Assessments for Managers. You want credit for launching a leadership program? And this came as a result of FEVS feedback? You needed FEVS feedback to know that you needed to have a leadership program? And you’re again promising effective 360 assessments for managers after years and years of promising that you would? You expect us to believe you? Please.

It is clear that the Agency’s high-ranking officials are clueless, uninspired and are in positions for which they are not qualified. This Agency needs a turnaround specialist who is willing to clear out the upper level deadwood and eager to implement bold, dramatic policies and procedures. Without such leadership, we will continue to founder, plugging along until Congress finally decides to put us out of our misery.

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