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Misery Is Optional
By Rick Kindsvatter
President of Montana State Branch 929
Calendar year 2020 is in the books. If a title was given to 2020, it would be “The Year of Changes and Challenges.” That title reflects the challenges from COVID-19, increase in parcel volume, decrease in available employees, changes and extension of memorandums of understanding and the national election, to name just a few. Being retired, I can only imagine what EAS personnel faced during these times, even though I had a small insight from branch members.
In today’s environment, it is inevitable that operation changes will occur in order to stay competitive with other delivery services. But with changes come challenges. Employees tend to be change-weary, yet these changes often are in response to a world that is changing around us at a faster pace.
To successfully implement any change, leaders need to explain and disperse the changes to employees whom they will affect in a positive manner for favorable results. I have attended standups when changes were being announced and the presenter commented the changes were being forced on them by a higher authority.
Subordinate employees are looking to us to be leaders in the organization; not taking ownership is the wrong methodology for being a leader. During changing environments, taking ownership provides leaders the opportunity to step up and develop positive steps to the challenges the changes afford.
Some individuals allow changes to have a negative impact not only in their work environment, but in their personal environment away from work, as well. During 2020, I received phone calls and emails from branch members commenting on the changes they were directed to implement by USPS officials on a local, area and Headquarters level. It is unfortunate these EAS personnel in our ranks allow changes to impact their work or personal environment, or both.
I had a persona I lived by since my early years as a law enforcement officer in the late ’60s and carried through my career with the Postal Service: “Misery is optional.” If I had a different perspective on a change, I presented what I considered a viable solution backed by data to my superior for their consideration to redact the change. The guarantee was that if I didn’t present my views, nothing would change.
I got into management to make a positive change for the organization. Not all my proposed redactions to changes were implemented, but there were some occasions when the senior official came back to me, wishing they would have implemented my modifications because it was a better alternative. In addition to living by “Misery is optional,” I always kept in mind what a senior official once told me: “Come to the table with solutions, not just problems.”
Granted, there are going to be situations where the changes aren’t in your or your superior’s area of influence, so don’t get discouraged about presenting your solutions or views. When I was a manager of Post Office Operations, I appreciated the opportunity to listen to the concerns of the offices I represented. Listening encouraged me that these offices were taking ownership of the change, but wanted their concerns to be heard and discussed.
Don’t let changes influence your work and/or personal environment. Instead, grasp the changes; this is an opportunity to implement a positive result. Voice your concerns, backed with data-rich solutions.