I accuse you of doing good work!

It's no secret relations between employees and executives at the ministry of children and family development could stand a little improvement. According to a recent work environment survey, just 20 percent agreed with statements expressing confidence in their bosses. So it should come as no surprise that, last fall, the ministry's leadership team launched an initiative to encourage managers to "engage employees in a meaningful way by looking at and acknowledging the staff and their strengths." This, according to records obtained under a freedom of information request by Public Eye.

Leadership team meeting minutes, dated October 26, 2006, suggest managers should "have a piece of paper where you would write down when a person has done something noteworthy." A praiseworthy program, to be sure. And the ministry has even distributed notepads to make it easy for them. But those notes - which feature the phrase "Caught you with a strength!" below a cartoon butterfly casher - have raised some eyebrows. As one wag put it "would you be embarassed or proud" to receive one? Ten points for effort. We'll let you grade the execution. The following is a copy of the aforementioned minutes.

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LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING
MINUTES

STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL

Meeting Minutes for October 26, 2006

6. Caught You With A Strength program
* An internal program, facilitated by leadership that will involve anyone who has a direct report.
* Managers need to engage employees in a meaningful way by looking at and acknowledging the staff and their strengths.
* We have to work hard at relatiuonships and not loose individuals in the collective.
* Have a piece of paper where you would write down when a person has done something noteworth i.e. level of work above and beyond normal, always positive etc.

Action:
* To be put into place immediately.
* International communications to develop "Caught You with a Strength" template.

5 Comments

Using this patronizing method of acknowledging good work costs little in terms of dollars or time and doesn't take as much work as actually doing something responsible such as walking the talk. when is the human resources ADM going to actually produce something that staff across the ministry can depend on and upon which, we can make plans for our future? we have been waiting 8 months to find out whether or not we will have jobs in the brave new world of child welfare in bc.

I consider this "caught you with a strength" scrap of paper to be insulting. I would much prefer to be treated as a responsible professional and with respect. this scrap of undermines the whole process of validating the work of employees who have many strengths and use them every day in our work. if all of us receive the scrap of paper what meaning does it have?

It is no secret that social workers are now bill collectors and gate keepers and messengers of the negative message that we do not care( well yes about implementing cuts and the bottom line) but we need to tell you we are delivering better services for less money..There is a $40 million dollar cut to MCFD in this last budget that is only going to accentuate this ethical angst for workers.Programs like this in this context are nothing but crazy making practices and appear callous to employees when they see the bigger picture of cuts and mismanagement.

and will ministry workers be issued pads containing the title"oh my! another day of patronizing, chaotic, bullshit masqurading as rational, sustainable funding and relationships."

* Managers need to engage employees in a meaningful way by looking at and acknowledging the staff and their strengths.

This "caught you with a strength" hand out demonstrates in a real and tangible way how deeply disconnected Human Resources (which, developed this idea with the support of the DM), is from MCFD staff who prefer a more adult-like and respectful process for feedback on their work.

Thankfully, in my experience, few Managers have adopted this childish 1950s style "pat pat on the head", in fact they have protested it as there is nothing "meaningful" in such a practice.

* We have to work hard at relatiuonships and not loose individuals in the collective.


'collective'? - a Collective implies an organization where decision-making is done by everyone through a Democratic process in order to achieve a consensus.

This does not, to my mind, describe the decision-making process at MCFD. As for 'loose'ing staff, there are many staff who have already left or are in the process of leaving, including me, and others who are considering their options. We have come to the conclusion that taking this step is the only way that we can truly meet our commitment to the children, youth and families of this province.

The Leadership of MCFD ought to be very concerned about the 80% of staff who expressed their lack of confidence in them and find better ways to provide Leadership.

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