Page 47 - Foreign Service Journal - April 2013

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
APRIL 2013
47
AFSA NEWS
The U.S. Department of
Agriculture is engaged in
a cultural transformation
initiative with the goal of
making the agency a premier
organization with an engaged
and motivated work force.
Unfortunately, we are falling
short of this goal.
As reported in the 2012
Federal Employee Viewpoint
Survey, more than half of
Foreign Agricultural Service
employees responded nega-
tively when asked whether
our leaders generate high
levels of motivation and com-
mitment in the workplace.
For the goal to have meaning,
the words need to be backed
up with behavior change that
starts with the top ranks.
FAS has always been an
intensely mission-focused
agency, with little patience
for spending a lot of time
praising good work or toler-
ance for anything less than
100-percent dedication to
work and career. The attitude
could be summed up as “We
thank you every day for the
work you do—it’s called a
paycheck.” Given the current
budget environment, it is
hard to argue with that.
However, this viewpoint
may have contributed to a
culture of negativism that is
turning out to be counter-
productive. While negative
feedback and criticism (and,
in extreme cases, yelling and
bullying) can get results in
the short run, a more positive
work environment is much
more productive over the
long haul. 
As we work to imple-
ment the department’s
cultural transformation
goals, we need to focus on
what motivates people to
excel and go the extra mile.
One of those intangibles is
a feeling of being valued.
Day-to-day positive feed-
back, which costs nothing
and may be more important
for morale over the long
run, goes beyond the formal
awards program. To quote
former Vice President Spiro
T. Agnew, we need to combat
the “nattering nabobs of
negativism.”
FAS is a great agency that
does work that is vital to rural
America, so it should also
be one of the best places
to work in the government.
While it won’t solve all of
our problems, highlighting
the positive, and treating all
employees with the respect
and appreciation they
deserve, are a good place to
start.
n
A Kinder, Gentler and More
Productive Workplace
FAS VP VOICE | BY DAVID MERGEN
Views and opinions expressed in this column
are solely those of the AFSA FAS VP.
FAS is a great agency
that does work
that is vital to rural
America, so it should
be one of the best
places to work in the
government.
Notice: AFSA Ofcer Election
The 2013 AFSA Ofcer and Governing Board
election is under way. Details about the election,
including the rules, can be found at
www.afsa.org/
elections. 
Candidates’ campaign literature, along with a
ballot, will be made available to members on the
AFSAWeb site. Campaigning through employer
e-mail by any member is prohibited (with the excep-
tion of the three pre-approved candidate e-mail
blasts).
• Ballots:
Ballots will be distributed on or about
April 15 by e-mail if you have a valid e-mail address
on fle with AFSA, or by printed ballot via the U.S.
Postal Service. If you do not receive a ballot by May
6, please contact
election@afsa.org.
• Ballot Tally:
On June 6, at 9 a.m., the printed
ballots will be picked up from the post ofce in
Washington, D.C. Printed ballots must be received
at the post ofce to be counted. Online voting will
also be available until June 6, at 9 a.m., when the
voting site will close.
• Election Information:
Written requests for a
duplicate ballot should be directed to election@
afsa.org or sent to AFSA Committee on Elections,
2101 E Street NW, Washington, D.C., 20037. Please
include your full name, current address, e-mail
address and telephone number.
Support the New U.S. Diplomacy
Center and Museum
The new U.S. Diplomacy Center and Museum will
showcase the history and importance of diplomacy
and development. A groundbreaking at the 21st
Street NW side of the Department of State will take
place this summer. AFSA strongly supports this
project and is coordinating a donation campaign.
We invite every member of the Foreign Service
to show support by making a secure, modest
contribution at
www.afsa.org/usdc.
To learn more
about the USDC, please visit diplomacy.state.gov.