You are browsing the archive for Uncategorized.

21st Century Workforce – Lead the Way!

August 15, 2013 in Organizational Excellence, Uncategorized

There is no doubt that we are all disappointed with the rankings the NPS receives as a Best Place to Work in the Federal Government.  Over the past ten years the workforce has consistently scored the NPS in the bottom quartile of all federal agencies. But there’s a reason to be optimistic. For the first time in 2012, results were delivered on a micro level providing an opportunity for managers to see individual evaluation and remedies at over 200 parks and offices. The survey is intended to help create institutional incentives to focus on key workforce issues and provide managers and leaders with a way to measure and improve employee satisfaction and commitment.

Call to Action #39 – “Lead the Way” is focused on leveraging strong employee commitment, exceptional leadership and improved management practices to build the 21st century workforce necessary to advance the NPS mission.

Through this Call to Action over 50 NPS parks have elected to analyze and take action on their site’s survey results with targeted support from NPS’ Organizational Development Branch. Each park will produce actionable improvement plans that address the findings of their 2012 survey reports.

Most participating parks have held employee meetings and/or established an employee committee to evaluate what is working well and what can be improved upon.  The following are excerpts from some of the feedback we’ve received.

 “…participants shared many common experiences, a strong sense of camaraderie and commitment to their work and the park. Management as well, showed commitment to their positions and to their staff. There seemed to be a strong desire on both parts to make [our park] a work place that brings out the best in its employees.”

 “ I have been impressed by how the process of discussing these questions has engendered an openness and frankness among the staff. The result of these discussions has already catalyzed some positive change at the park level.”

 “We focused primarily on areas where our scores were lower, which represent opportunities for improvement, but we looked closely at all the categories, because high scores represent an opportunity to get even better.  At an all-employee meeting, the employees were informed of the management team’s intention of looking carefully at the survey results and solicited their feedback.”

There’s also no doubt that the NPS has a ways to go to build the ‘ideal’ workplace.   One thing is for sure, of all the federal agencies we have the most dedicated and optimistic employees who, in spite of the internal and external pressures we face, will do their very best to deliver world class resource protection and visitor services.

The next all employee survey will be in the spring of 2014.

From the Civil War to Civil Rights

July 3, 2013 in Connecting People to Parks, Uncategorized

The Civil War to Civil Rights commemorations officially began in February 2011 with the Lincoln Inaugural Journey that culminated in the arrival of President-elect Abraham Lincoln, portrayed by actor Fritz Klein, in Washington, D.C. by train just as he did a century and a half earlier.

Former Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar commented, “The sesquicentennial of the Civil War is a time to commemorate those who fought and died during this pivotal era in American history. At the same time it is an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the ongoing march for freedom and equality for all people.”

We remember the shots fired at Fort Sumter and the fabric of our nation torn asunder by the institution of slavery. We talk about the struggle for emancipation and at what “cost” from many perspectives. We also recognize that at this particular moment in time, we have the opportunity to commemorate a war in this nation to free people from human bondage and, at the same time, to honor the hard won progress of  civil rights for many of those people declared to be free in the war that occurred a century before.  We must use this opportunity to talk about that time when freedom was not honored and the struggle for civil rights began. We must understand how those thoughts and values continue to prevail, and how we use lessons from the past to guide us in making better choices for our future.

Now we stand on the threshold of the high water mark of those commemorations, and much has been done to continue to bring these stories forward.  As part of our commemorations, the National Park Service has upgraded sixteen interpretive media projects, produced eight new publications, created over 500 real and virtual trading cards and held five signature events with nearly eleven more still being planned. This year we are commemorating the Siege of Vicksburg and the Battle of Gettysburg, two events that will bring thousands of visitors to the parks.

NPS has expanded the use of social media to engage new audiences and provide opportunities for many unable to physically visit, but still want to be part of the events. The March on Washington, in August, will enable us to continue our work within this thematic framework and engage youth by participating in an oral history project. They will learn about “Keeping the Dream Alive,” making informed choices and having their voices heard through non-violent means. Later, in the fall, we will reflect upon Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his immortal words…

”It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from this earth.”

Our National Parks and their partners have brought everything they have to the table in a time when resources were tight and expectations were soaring. Through collaboration, they discovered the value and longevity in the partnerships they built. The communities we have built – internally and externally – will sustain our goals well into the future and far beyond our initial expectations. The success of our outreach will be measured by the children who are sitting in pre-school and elementary classrooms today and will lead our bicentennial commemoration in the future. Only then will we know if we have made these stories relevant and created stewards for future generations.