This post was originally posted on October 16, 2013, during the 2013 government shutdown. It has been edited for timeliness.
With the government shutdown nearing its third week, I keep finding myself thinking about the conflict government employees must experience in their relationship with our government. Those who work for the government may not only be feeling the disappointment many Americans do with the shutdown; they may feel disillusionment with the government as their employer as well. Once they are back to work, they might also encounter a backlash of anger and frustration from the people they serve making a difficult situation even worse.
Disillusionment and loss of trust in an employer can impact work performance, drive, and dedication. As our nation struggles to come together, our federal workers must remember their reasons for choosing public service in the first place. In my experience, people who choose a career in public service often do so because they have a strong sense of national pride and a desire to serve the country in some way.
For many the government shutdown means being caught in the middle. Disappointment over the failures of our leaders, anger or frustration over lost hours at work, the financial worries associated with not working and challenges that will come with getting back up to speed once the shutdown ends. There are amazing people who work as federal employees who possess experience that is varied and valuable. They know how to solve problems but often find their hands tied with red tape. It is important to maintain motivation and to remember that the job each federal employee does is essential to someone.
The ABCD Trust Model, highlighted in the last weeks post, spells out the aspects of building trust. For trust to exist it is important to strive to be Able, Believable, Connected, and Dependable. Trust is also something that comes from faith in someone or something other than oneself. I’ve often heard people say “trust must be earned”, but I find it is something that comes much easier when we are willing to offer it on faith. The best leaders are those who trust us to do our best and offer the opportunity to prove our value. Every government employee has the power to offer their trust to the people they serve, to their leaders, and to coworkers.
Even though being furloughed is hard and the government has broken promises to the people and its employees, we need to remember that this situation is temporary and something that happens rarely. For most there is a job to go back to and people to serve that need help; people who rely on those “non-essential” programs every day. There will inevitably be situations where trust appears to be broken between those who staff our government agencies and the people they serve. It will be important to remember the ABCD Trust Model and work to live by it to rebuild that trust.
You can find all of GovLoop’s shutdown coverage here.