The Missing Billet in Government

I was going to start my post by blogging about my experience, you know.. “I have been doing this for x years” but, I am thinking as I type this that I am not going to do that.  I had a lot of thoughts this week, as I have started a new job and I have been flooded with ideas and new tasking.   I think about relationships between nodes and the trace ability of the relationships contextually.  I was considering first a discussion about risks but then I started thinking about costs associated with people not listening to others. Which leads me back to an open-ended concept that I feel has not been addressed enough in the DoD  but could apply to any government agency  or business which is the psychological aspect of labor.

Joint Forces was closing and the transition team was working on understanding the functional capabilities and requirements that needed to persist to support the various combatant commands, services and agencies.   Meetings were held infrequently to update the status concerning what functions were critical.  Essentially this equated to who shall stay and who shall go.

We didn’t know when the meetings were going to happen and everything we heard for the most part was rumor or speculation.   There was a time that some even questioned the integrity of the General in charge of JFCOM.  After all he must have known more than he was saying.  The demeanor of the crowd started to change and the work and started to slow down.  It wasn’t long before people started to leave the job out of fear.  The General in charge of our section told us that he would tell us everything he knew except when he felt he couldn’t.   In other words, we were never going to get the whole story.

This behavior continued for a year.  It took an emotional and physical toll on many.  People were concerned about their jobs, their lives and families.   Every week or two there were goodbye lunches and lots of tears.   The halls were filled with depression and accusation and blame were prevalent on the lips of many.

As a society we know of PTSD and we understand the damage that it can do to our soldiers.  Consistent lack of leadership and concern for the human condition can have the same effect on people.  People that have worked in the same place for years that have a passion for their jobs, losing them in an instant.  Others watching these people leave knowing that they will be next.   I once asked the General how people are supposed to act as they effectively dig their own career graves, he simply replied ” I don’t like the sound of that.”

I don’t think that this kind of situation is limited in the DoD to just one area.  I also don’t think it is limited to contractors.   I think it is pervasive throughout the department.  There is a clear need for the Industrial Psychologist perspective.   How do the actions or lack of action affect the team?  What impact does it have on the work?  What impact does it have on the War-fighter?   What behaviors exist that can be modified to help limit the risks for people?

I think this is THE missing billet.