Letter: New feds can learn from 'lifers' about implementing change

Regarding "The Lectern: "I wanted to reinvent the wheel," a reader writes: It is easy to see why young fresh-out-of-school Wannabees can be turned off by a thoughtless, "Don't try to reinvent the wheel" response by an experienced dinosaur boss, who has done and seen it all. There are always two sides to every story. I have been there. I was a young prospective leader completely turned off by government policies, rules and regulations with longevity as the seemingly only prerequisite for upward mobility within the government management structure. 

I started working for the postal service 43 years ago as a part-time worker trying to pay my way through college. There were several of us that were young college kids trying to make a buck who spent most of our time laughing at the "lifers" that we worked along side of who never listened to our many suggestions. We saw them as the enemy of progress that needed to retire yesterday.  We were so full of ourselves that we failed to listen and only valued what we had to say. We were told, "Don't reinvent the wheel," when we raised obvious concerns. The lifers were trying to tell us the obvious answer is not necessarily the best answer for the company and that we were lacking in the necessary knowledge to implement positive change.

I was given an opportunity to join the management force on the condition that I would first learn "the why" the company did things before I tried to change everything. When silenced for a week during my learning of the culling cancelling operation I began to widen my horizons to other adjacent areas of concern that I had not considered before. When my mentoring boss felt I had a handle on not only the specific area I was assigned to supervise but also how it fit into the larger picture he became my greatest supporter for change. It took time and dedication to the company to create the change we felt was beneficial but it came and we were indeed successful. I was later given all kinds of opportunities that made me a dedicated lifer. Now the new college kids laugh at me when they come in the door and I treat them with the same mentoring philosophy that was so generously given me 43 years ago. First, listen and learn then expound change.  The wannabees need the dinosaurs and the dinosaurs need the wannabees. We need wannabees because we need the mixing-pot effect that their new ideas bring. Wannabees need the dinosaurs because the dinosaurs know the system that is already in place and ideas need to be founded on understanding and knowledge that comes from experience. The blend makes us Dinobees or Wannasaurs that can turn ideas into action. Quitting because it seems the easy answer may not be the best answer for the Dinobees/Wannasaurs or the company.


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