BBG Watch Guest Commentary

BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from a current Voice of America journalist who prefers to remain anonymous.

READ a previous post from the same author: “Memo to Andy Lack From A Disgusted, Yet Hopeful VOA Journalist.”

Views expressed here are only those of the authors and not of BBG Watch, its volunteers, or sponsors.

We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.


Advice for Andy Lack

By A Concerned Voice of America Journalist

New U.S. international media CEO-designate Andy Lack will not suffer from lack of input as to how he should do his job, including from your correspondent. I wrote him a memo recently full of unsolicited advice.

Here’s more:

Go deep into the OPM Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results; meet with every branch of every division. These meetings will help you suss out which leaders of which branches and divisions are the ones causing the trouble. Match the survey results with your impressions from meeting with the people they lead.

Have private meetings with employees off-site.

Spend more time with employees than managers. Because they are federal employees and so more difficult to fire, you have a unique opportunity here to really get the bottom line. They won’t be reticent if you give them your word that they will not be punished for what they say.

Go back a few years and read reports from the Office of Performance Review; compare the OPR recommendations to what was implemented and ask why there is such a gap between what was recommended and what was implemented.

Ask the agency’s senior leaders why they have not put in place a leadership development program, and then ask the middle-level managers why they have not demanded such a program.

Review the agency’s Launchpad website. It is full of great ideas from lower-level employees. Ask senior leaders why more of those ideas were not implemented.

Compare these bureaucrats to the hard-charging, highly-competent broadcast leaders you have hired, led, developed, mentored and motivated in your previous assignments; ask yourself why VOA’s leaders have so few of the attributes of successful managers and leaders in the commercial world.

VOA’s current leaders cannot or will not change. They are incapable of seeing the damage they have wrought, or they know but realize they are unemployable anywhere else and have to stay until they can crawl out of the building with their six-figure retirement payments. You need to help the rank and file rise up, go around, through and above the existing dysfunctional leadership. Help the employees — from within — to overthrow the failed leadership from the inside. Decide early on that, given a choice between managers and employees, you will side with the employees. Have a preferential option for the workers, the content producers.

You’ve got a small window in which to prove this is not just some place for you to park your butt as you fade out of the broadcasting world. So, quickly: Make heads roll. Hold people accountable. These are people who love holding their employees accountable; turn the tables and hold them accountable for once. Initiate termination procedures. They may retire before they are fired, but they will not be able to leave on a high note, with a lovely party and a going-away award. Don’t let them leave with a nice plaque and a medal and a party. They don’t deserve it. Just get them out.

A member of Congress recently said “there are many…individuals who presided over widespread negligence and mismanagement. They cannot be trusted…and must be held accountable.”

He was speaking of the VA, but he may have just as well have been speaking about VOA.

You’ll see.

Get here.

And get crackin.

Time’s a wastin.