Unless you have been living under a rock, you would know that one of the latest pushes in all management circles — public, private, C-suites, academia — is to figure out how to improve workplaces so that they are supportive of good mental health. But part of that push is recognizing that we are not there yet, and even if we were, life happens outside of the workplace too, and eventually, even the most awesome place to work is going to deal with mental health issues with its employees.
Analysis without resolution
Earlier today, our branch held a half-day management discussion on mental health issues and included a desire for us all as managers to make a personal commitment to what we would “undertake” to improve our support on mental health issues. Some of them range from the obvious (don’t look at your phone while you’re talking to someone) while others are more complex (how to manage performance when there is an undiagnosed but suspected mental health issue on display). » Read the rest
I work in a government office complex, and for the most part, our offices tend to look like they were designed and approved by accountants. Actuarial accountants. And auditors. We don’t have 50 shades of gray, we tend to have three. Light gray, dark gray, and something in between that is probably “light gray that got dirty and will never get cleaned”. Don’t get me started on the carpets. But before I talk about Workplace 2.0, let me talk for a moment about my last 20+ years of office accommodations.
From 1993 to 1997, I was with Foreign Affairs. Generally, everyone had a closed office, boring off-white metal-like walls, brown doors, small window next to the door (usually, but not always), desk plus computer table, chair, guest chair, bookshelf and filing cabinet. With enough room that you could often have two people squeeze in front of the desk as guests, and have a quick meeting. » Read the rest
I’m often surprised by what topics will spark interest in people, and cycles vs. innovation/disruption would not be one on my list of topics expected to interest people. But a couple asked me if I could elaborate my example a little more clearly, and so I’m going to go for a specific example currently facing my team.
We have a large branch, some 500+ people. Before the last round of cuts and reorganization, that number was closer to 700. Ten directorates dropped to 7, we moved a lot of financial processing people (back-office types) to a service delivery branch, etc. But the part I want to talk about is the regular financing files for non-salary costs.
These costs are not extensive, maybe 10-15% of salary costs, and include things like travel, hospitality, equipment, newspapers, water machines, software licenses, training, etc. A lot of small costs that require a bit of transaction time. » Read the rest
While there are lots of politics watchers and lovers, my interest in government is really about public administration…structures, choices of instruments, governance processes, really anything “internal” about how the machine works. This past week ended with an expected announcement of a change in our branch structure as a result of changes in strategic direction and a rethinking of how best to meet those new needs.
However, what is of interest to me in the general sense is that some of the changes “undo” some changes that were made a few years ago. That sounds bad, but it’s really not. It’s just that some things that were changed a few years ago for very good reasons have now been changed also for very good reasons, yet environmental factors are not the only issue, nor even necessarily the driver. Some of it is, or perhaps may be, just cyclical.
Take for example programming by, well, just about by anyone delivering public services. » Read the rest
I have an uneasy relationship with politics. Some people are uneasy because they think all of politics is about sleaze — legalized lying to the voters in order to gain office. Others are uneasy with things like representation by population (or not), special interest groups, the need for compromise, the mudslinging, the promises, the need for more compromises, and the almighty need to sometimes do things that are unpopular but still the “right thing to do” to stop the majority from exploiting the minority. Those aren’t my issues. I’m uneasy because of my job. I’m a civil servant.
Note that I said civil servant, which in and of itself is a clue to my unrest. I didn’t say, public servant, which is the popular term these days. That is used ubiquitously for both bureaucrats and elected officials, which is partly why I don’t use it. I am not elected. I am hired to do a job, or to be precise, appointed under the power of legislation that delegates authority to make appointments to the Deputy Heads of organizations who then in turn delegate to underlings for regular staff appointments, overseen by the Public Service Commission to make sure processes are fair, transparent, etc, not to ensure the “right” person or even the “best” person got the job but that they were qualified. » Read the rest