Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Big idea #3: Reduce management

In my “Big Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we are exploring explore five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the third.

A commenter said this. “We need to reduce management. The majority of craft personnel know what they need to do and they do it.”  The commenter suggested self-directed carrier units, where they work as a team to get the job done. “ Let team decisions be driven by computer reports and our main goal - delivery. Allow for craft bonuses for teams who do a great job managing themselves.”

The supervisory numbers are falling, along with the total USPS employee totals. Here’s the trend, as gleaned from the annual report.

Year    Supervisors  Total Employees

2005        33,234        803,000

2006        33,201        796,199

2007        32,635        785,929

2008        31,787        765,929

2009        28,812        712,082

The total employee workforce has fallen 12 percent since 2005, while the supervisory workforce has fallen 14 percent.

What do you think? Are these ideas smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.


Anonymous said...

As long as their is a union, there can never be craft employee rule. The unions often disagree with management decsions and I think they would fail to execute management directives. If they failed to follow these direcetives, would the union support the right of management to punish the "team leader"? As time goes by, craft employees often let rules slip becaue in their eyes there is no need to follow "dumb rules"...if the team allowed rules to go unfollowed...would the team leader be held accountable? The union would not let management punish a craft employee since they are not "official" managers.

Instead, we need to look at the number of middle managers...the number between the Postmaster and Postmaster General. We have MPOO's who manage Post Masters, district managers who manage MPOO's and PMs, area managers who manage everyone below him/her. For example, rural carrier OT during Christmas. Postmasters must answer to the area managers why OT was used...and I mean any OT (even as little as 5 mins). The levels have grown because of the need of the area managers to micromange each and every post office. They can not concieve the idea that 5 mins of OT should be managed/controlled by the postmasters. The MPOO's, DM, and Area Mangers can not concieve the idea that local PMs can actually make sound decsions. Any time you have managers managing mangers, you are loosing money....period!

Anonymous said...

The Postal Service has been "top-heavy" ever since I've been in it. While other businesses were compressing their managerial classes to one or two levels, the Post Office expanded theirs, and suggested to workers they should become managers as well. Managers seem to move in flocks where I work. We need fewer people who don't touch mail on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

Please pardon the analogy, but you can't leave the monkeys in charge of the zoo. Sure, most of the craft employees work hard and do a good job. They only need a little direction and someone to ensure they have what they need to get the job done. However, there are enough of the craft folk who develop a sense of entitlement and dare you to try and make them do something. These are the ones who make it worse for those who are trying to do their job and they have to drag this "boat anchor" along as well.

Anonymous said...

This one's to easy, to many Chiefs and not enough indians!!! One hand doesn't know what the other hand is doing. The Postal Service is way to top heavy.

Anonymous said...


The craft employees in this organization being self managed??

The company would be bankrupt and dissolved at light speed.

Joan said...

I agree with Managers managing managers is a waste of Money. There are way to many VP's at HQ. We do not need POOMs, we do need DM and Area VPS. But give me a break VP for green? Sorry but green may be good but it is not the mail. We need direction in Operations, Finance and Customer Service. If it dosen't fin in those three--Bye!

Anonymous said...

While we do need supervisors to manage craft employees, we don't need all these layers of management to manage the managers. As a PM, I could report to the DM as well as a POOM. Boom! One layer of management gone! I also think we have way too many people at the District level sitting around thinking of more reports for us to run just to justify their jobs. I agree with Joan; too many VP's at the HQ level. We could pare it down substanially from the top down. Let the ones who get the mail delivered have more freedom to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

The percentage of supervisors to employees is still the same as before - 4%. Yes, we do need to supervise craft employees because of those employees who don't do their jobs without direction. Supervisors also have multiple reports & other duties that must be done unless HQ decides to scale down all that paperwork. But I agree that we don't need so many levels of management. Return responsibility of post offices to the postmasters, give them adequate training (like they did supervisors in the ASP program) and do away with all the micromanaging. We can do everything on computer - timekeeping, accounting, order stamps and supplies. Instead of Distict and Area managers why don't we just have postmasters directly under the DM, and District Managers directly under the PMG? Employees, both management and craft will be rewarded for meeting certain goals (which they will have a say in setting) and poor performers will be given additional training or reassigned as necessary.

Anonymous said...

When they suggested reducing management I don't think they meant the superivors as much as the paper pushers above the supervisor. We need the supervisors to manage the floor. We don't need all the VPs and all the staff at Area and HQ. Start from the top down and cut positions. Yes, they did cut some positions at Area and HQ and then turned around and moved people back into those jobs with a different title. Other than retirements, how many positions have they really lost at the top? Coincidentally, that is also some of the higher paying jobs. Cut those jobs, save money?

Anonymous said...

Self managed units have been tried and were eventually disolved. Only a hand full of units were successful and the group of craft employees that took the lead in these units faced the same situations as our front line supervisors do today. Yes there was allot of cooperation in the begining however those that abuse the system stop for a while and then eventually get back to their old ways. This is difficult to handle more especially when you have no real authority over your fellow employees. In addition a select group of employees must meet daily to divide up work based on the Collective Bargaining Agreement guidelines. Remember our handbooks and manuals don't automatically go out the window. Bottom-Line is supervisors are being reduced in our units, I have lost (4) and the work that they completed is still here. This idea sounds real good to some, most of those that don't want to be managed. To those that come in and do their job and go home, they have no beef with their supervisors. Self managed units will never work unless the entire structure of F2 & F4 changes with it. Not going to happen anytime soon!!

Anonymous said...

When I started as a substitute carrier we thought the clerks didn't do much. When I was a clerk we thought the PM didn't do much. When I was PM I thought the POOM didn't do much, etc etc. Everyone has work to do. As long as we are government and held accountable we will have to do certain amount of reporting. You can't just show up and deliver mail, there is administrative work that has to get done. And seriously, one DM can't have that many Postmasters (36,000?)reporting directly to him. He'd have to have assistance just monitoring it. So what have you saved? Likwise, the PMG can't have all 72 district managers reporting directly to him. Some of our employees don't seem to understand just how big we are.

Anonymous said...

One Union One Craft, no work on the dock? Send them inside! No work at the window? Carry mail 1/2 the day. Unions are breaking us! Can't wait until the next contract negotiations, it will be interesting to see what they ask for next.

Anonymous said...

In our office there is no Supervisor here for Tour 3 Saturday. Tour 1 posts a list before they leave that morning. That list states who is to do what..relieve for breaks..set up..sortations..etc. I am craft and I have to pull CPMS reports and if there is a missed or early scan I have to call the PM of that AO office and instruct them to go and scan or rescan or docuement why this box shows as an error.
At the bottom of the list that they put up there are 2 Supervisors names and phone numbers to call if there are any problems. Two Saturdays ago my sister was in town, whom I had not seen in years. Guess phone rings and it is a clerk from work and he tried calling both Supervisor's several times but they did not answer their phones or return his call. He waited as long as he could for the Supervisors to call...then my phone rang. I had to leave my sister and come into work to help out. I was on annual and did this off the clock.
Some of us do care about or jobs and are very thankful for what we have. My job is to move all available mail and I will come in again if the need should arise even though I have to donate my time.

Anonymous said...

We could save money by getting rid of all the executive VP's at hedaquarters. Potter appointed 14 of them last fall and now another 3 this past month. I bet NONE of them have ever worked in a post office yet they're the ones making the rules and coming up with all the mandatory unnecessary reports.
And someone in HQ makes changes on postal forms and computer programs that make them very non-user friendly. I can't even get keys for my P O boxes now!!