Whose fault is it if public service leaves you feeling stifled?

Sharing a comment I posted on GovLoop today, because it feels important.


If an individual employee feels stifled in government, it is up to that employee to manage the situation effectively by finding ways to make a positive difference. Having official boss approval is only one of those ways. Other ways include...well lots of things that you have seen suggested many times no doubt.

What is the boss's job? Not to pretend that every idea, or even every good idea, is going to be considered. That is not "good management" rather it is a pat on the head and it is really condescending and insulting. Or worse, it is dangerous when management just goes "oh sure" and does not give any direction that would rein in some of the kookier concepts that people come up with and actually implement when one is looking the other way. I could name a few but it's better that I don't.

What is the boss's job, from a positive perspective? I would say that it's to teach the employee "how to fish," meaning how to get things done in the system as it actually exists, and then to build on that incrementally and make improvements.

Of course most bosses are not oriented to doing that and so good people either leave or they do something radical in order to make change happen, taking the risk on themselves. Both of those scenarios are bad for government. Move the ship slowly, steadily and together and we can get it done.

My two cents.