Fed workers weigh in on negative perceptions
This week I wanted to share some of your insightful comments around the negative perceptions of federal employees as well as reader tips for how federal managers can become an SES. Please continue sharing your ideas and questions by commenting below or emailing me at email@example.com.
To start, I want to share the following comment from a 40-year veteran of the federal workforce in response to the recent polls and political fodder about feds:
I have been screamed at, called incompetent, reported to the president and told that I should remain unemployed forever. I have been threatened, forced to evacuate buildings due to bomb threats, booed, blocked from entering my workplace and forced to undergo careful security screenings because of threats. I have even witnessed a bomb detonated a very few feet from where I was working.
My work has been insulted by elected officials, people running for office and anyone seeking an easy axe to grind. I have to be careful about which people I share information about my employment, act with great care to make sure I meet every single personal legal obligation I have and bite my tongue when I am insulted.
In return I have worked, often 45-60 hours per week, for forty years at a rate of pay that was often one third what a similar job paid in the private sector. I discovered in college (while working fifty hours a week) that the future titans of business attending class with me were usually less talented than I and did not work as hard.
So, think what you like. I have heard and seen it before.
Please understand that all of this will not affect my work one iota, because I am a professional in the service of my fellow citizens. I am proud of what I do. I would gladly have the words "Federal Employee" carved on my gravestone. -Federal Coach reader
Next, here is some advice from Helen Wurst, a U.S. Department of Agriculture employee, on the same topic:
I believe the main goal of management at this point is to promote the positive, however, they also need to address issues without the excuse "it will hurt someone's feelings". To change the public's view on federal employees has to begin with the upper levels of management and trickled down. A time for change is due, at every level. How we present ourselves, our appearance, our speech, not just in the office, but in public is something that needs to be put forward. - Helen Wurst, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Finally, here is some insider advice from a retired senior executive about getting into the SES:
I want to emphasize your #6 tip on getting into the SES--"know when to move on". I often saw a mindset among federal employees that the SES was just a next step beyond GM 15, and that long and faithful service in the same agency should result eventually in promotion to the SES. Agency heads and selecting officials are increasingly enlightened enough to value intra-agency experience, diverse geographical exposure, any assignments that broadened an applicant's total package and demonstrated one's ability to operate out of one's "comfort zone". So, the idea of "moving on" is something to think of early in one's career, to build up that package, and not just when a ceiling is reached. -Retired SES
October 22, 2010; 10:50 AM ET |
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