Keeping It Simple
It is an all too common human tendency to make many things more difficult for ourselves than necessary. Unfortunately, that much too often applies to the letter carrier job, which is a straightforward and honest occupation that is unnecessarily complicated by ridiculous Postal Service micromanagement and frequently by overthinking on the part of letter carriers.
On the management side of that equation, when there is little else to justify your existence, you create the appearance of necessity where it otherwise does not exist. Excess management at all levels has long been “the elephant in the room;” in the USPS well known and understood but allowed to exist anyway. Hence, they occupy themselves with programs and policies that add nothing of value to the Postal Service. Similarly, higher levels of USPS management are obsessed with process management gobbledygook such as the “Lean Six Sigma,” nonsense that is essentially irrelevant to letter carrier work.
On the letter carrier side of the same equation, there is no need to justify the real work that is performed on the daily basis by the world’s finest and most efficient delivery service employees. Letter carrier work is self-evident. It requires commitment and responsibility, focus and attention to detail, and it presents physical challenges under a wide range of working conditions. Each of those requirements is by nature self-managed. External badgering and micromanagement only interferes with letter carrier
Everything Else Is Just Details
In our fishbowl of life, you simply need to just show up for work and then do the work assigned. That’s all there is. Everything else is just details. Ignore the chatter, the “but what about…” Ultimately, none of that stuff matters. Unlike many in management, letter carriers have real jobs. Again, there is nothing to be justified. Without letter carriers, there is no Postal Service.
Regarding showing up for work – unless you are physically unable to work because of illness or off the job injury, report to work as scheduled. Accumulated sick leave is a valuable insurance policy, providing financial security and peace of mind in the
event of serious illness or an off the job injury. If you have an on the job injury or medical condition legitimately caused by your work, you can be protected by initiating and providing evidence for a claim under the Federal Employees Compensation Act. NALC members can receive detailed and competent assistance from their union.
Ignoring Mr. DOIS
Central to Postal management’s absurd micromanagement of letter carrier work are their pet “tools” such as DOIS (Delivery Operations Information System). Supervisors are trained to treat and apply this computer program as some sort of workload management god instead of the highly flawed and ultimately useless garbage that it is. Management relentlessly and zealously attempts to program letter carriers (especially newer letter carriers) into falsely thinking that management “gives” them the time allowed to complete their daily work. Instead, it is the other way around. Sure, a supervisor will come around and give you a time that he or she “thinks” you should be done with your work. The supervisor can even instruct you to return by a specific time.
However, that has nothing whatsoever to so with completing all your assigned work within any specific timeframe. That is your determination and is solely governed by the time that is actually needed to complete your work. That’s where reporting requirements,
as set forth in the M-41 Handbook, come in. Reality is not defined by what your supervisor thinks; it is only defined by what you do.
So, don’t sweat the details. If you are instructed to work 8 hours, then work 8 hours. If you reasonably believe that you can’t complete all work within 8 hours, then complete and submit a PS Form 3996 to notify management of this. If while performing delivery duties you become aware that you won’t be able to finish and return in the time previously authorized, then notify management. It’s their job to manage, not yours. Always follow the last instruction you are given.
Stop Caring About What Management Thinks
Most of all, please STOP caring about what management thinks - about anything! It’s not who you are, but rather it’s only what you do that matters, in the workplace and in life. In the hierarchy of the workplace, supervisors and management employees can give instructions to craft level employees. However, that’s all there is, and having authority to give instructions does not convey any special status or respect to anyone.
You owe to the Postal Service an obligation to do the best job that you can and to promote the best interests of the organization. You owe nothing to your supervisor or to any other management representative. The best interests of the USPS and the best interests of its management are often different things. Don’t confuse them. Your loyalty is to the Postal Service, which is NOT your supervisor or anyone in management. Their paycheck comes from the same source as yours.
The most effective way to keep stress out of your job is to always keep it simple. It’s about providing quality service to USPS customers. It’s about a paycheck every two weeks. It’s about taking care of your own life and of those that matter to you. That’s all there is, and you should always keep it that way. If you have another agenda, don’t bring it work. It’s not wanted or needed.
So just show up, case and deliver the mail and then go home again. Again, that’s all there really is, and all there needs to be. It’s the business of postal management to be concerned with the details. It’s the business of your union to protect your interests in
the workplace. If your contractual rights are violated, then let us deal with management.
Life is complicated enough. Don’t add your employment to that list of complications!
-- Joe Golonka