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September 1, 2023
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS National President
This is not a disclaimer: Not all leaders lack the knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) to be great leaders and mentors. However, some lack the desire and motivation.
In a local branch newsletter, I read about a growing concern regarding the level of negative engagement and lack of dignity and respect being directed toward EAS employees in this local branch. The address of this branch could be the same as one of the sample letters we used to see when focus classroom training was a part of the Postal Service’s training and development: ANYTOWN, USA.
What was astonishing was the response received by the branch’s leadership. I wish this reaction was based on management’s response, indicating it wants increased engagement to identify leadership that could benefit from improved KSAs and be better leaders and mentors. Or how this engagement could be transformed from battlefield engagement to cooperative engagement.
However, my astonishment comes from leadership’s response, which continues to demonstrate disdain toward EAS employees. The response sought to chastise NAPS for not saying anything positive about the Postal Service, while failing to acknowledge the unkind acts and words from leadership to the EAS employees who maintain the agency’s day-to-day operations. This level of disconnect that allows one group to not acknowledge the concerns of others is dangerous.
In the past, we have received commitments from USPS Headquarters leadership that local leaders will engage with EAS employees at the local level. The question, though, is, “What kind of engagement is that?”
As I said earlier, there are two kinds of engagement. The first is battlefield engagement, where one side seeks to do irreparable harm to the other. The second is cooperative engagement, where both sides seek to come together for a common purpose and good; it is not designed to hurt or cause harm to the other. Cooperative engagement is both sides seeking to work for the overall success of the agency, while treating each other with a degree of kindness, dignity and respect.
One of my employees sent me an article written by one of this country’s great military minds and motivators—General Colin Powell—who, when speaking of kindness, said, “Kindness is not just about being nice; it’s about recognizing another human being who deserves care and respect.”
He reminds us, “Every person in an organization has value and wants that value to be recognized. Everyone needs appreciation and reinforcement. Taking care of employees is perhaps the best form of kindness. You can never err by treating everyone in the building with respect, thoughtfulness and a kind word.”
Powell believes, “If you develop a reputation for kindness, even the most unpleasant decisions will go down easier. People will realize that your decision must be necessary and is not arbitrary or made without empathy.”
As Dr. Suess said, “To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world.” Kindness definitely counts.
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