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By Chuck Mulidore
The 2012 book, “Collaborate: The Art of We” by American businessman Dan Sanker, discusses the all-important power of “we” as a collaborative guide for success in the workplace. This book is billed as a guide for using certain techniques both in the workplace and marketplace to find success through the power of collaboration. This is a method the current resident officers have used—working together—with NAPS Headquarters for the past five years. We may not always agree on a solution, but the number-one concern we always have is how our actions and decisions as NAPS leaders impact our members. That is, and must always be, our main concern.
So, as NAPS resident officers, we collaborate, discuss and decide on a path forward. We then engage our Executive Board members and move forward as a team. That is how we measure success. And we have enjoyed much success for NAPS members through many challenging times, always advocating for and collaborating on behalf of our members.
It is a strategy we use with the Postal Service, as well. When we can work with the Postal Service on issues, then we effectively collaborate with them. A perfect example is our proposal to the USPS in April 2020, as the pandemic was gaining strength, that exempt EAS employees be compensated for additional hours worked due to COVID. The USPS agreed with our proposal and implemented that policy in May 2020.
There also are times when collaboration with the Postal Service is not possible. In those situations, we oppose them collaboratively as a NAPS organization. Such is the case with our continuing lawsuit against the Postal Service over the FY16-19 pay package implemented on EAS employees over our objections.
Thus, we work with them when we can and oppose them when we must. But always, in either case, we do so collaboratively. There is no room for those who seek credit individually over the team. That violates our most important tenet that, as an organization, we work together to always do what is best for our members and all EAS employees.
Now, as we move forward into the post-COVID future, we know we must do things differently. We encourage the Postal Service to work collaboratively with us to bring about that change. We also know that returning to “normal” may take quite some time; indeed, we may never return to the pre-pandemic days of what constituted normal.
There may very well be a “new normal” in which we must adapt and challenge ourselves in ways never before imagined so we can continue to thrive in the face of a variety of threats. Momentous events tend to reshape the world and our lives along with them. Certainly, the coronavirus pandemic is such an event.
We now must begin to plan for how our world will look and how we will fit into that world going forward. Critical thinking will be required to redesign our workplace and our social interactions in those workplaces. A collective vision for a new workplace that may require barriers between us, more remote work, less physical interaction, possibly staggered times of work and maybe even reimagining what our work will be!
The U.S. Postal Service has been in the throes of constant change for many years, trying to reinvent itself in the age of social media, the internet and declining mail volumes. We must ask ourselves: Is the Postal Service up to this task, this epic undertaking that may well define whether an essential American institution can survive after the pandemic?
We know that change is difficult. What will take us from “the way we have always done things” to “the way we must do things now?” The answer is collaborative leadership. Who will provide that collaborative leadership? Only in using the “Art of We” will the necessary creative solutions be discovered.
It is EAS employees who always have provided leadership in times of need in the Postal Service. Therefore, NAPS leaders must work together to support all EAS employees in setting the table for the inevitable change that will come.
EAS employees must provide the vision and the roadmap for the workplace of the post-pandemic Postal Service. We at NAPS Headquarters pledge to work as collaborative leaders for our team—the proud EAS employees who provide essential leadership in times of crisis.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
As we face down the greatest horror we have seen in our lifetimes, our collaborative leadership will matter. As we rebuild our work lives, our collaborative leadership will matter. Collectively, we all must step up together and do the thing we not only must do, but will do.