BBG Watch Commentary
While the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), which runs Radio and TV Martí, is part of the “practically defunct” (Hillary Clinton, 2013) Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), “another regular bottom-feeder…going backward“ on senior leadership and employee engagement, as reported by The Washington Post, at least the Director of the Martis, Maria González (Malule), appears to be a first-class leader from what we hear from some of OCB’s employees. González began her service at OCB in December 2015.
While we have not yet seen the element-by-element breakdown of the 2016 Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) results for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, it seems likely that these results would be even more dismal for BBG CEO John Lansing and VOA Director Amanda Bennett if the OCB employee response data were excluded.
This is just a guess on our part at this point without seeing the detailed FEVS results, but our assessment is based on comparing much of the anecdotal evidence and comments we are receiving from employees and union members at BBG, VOA, and OCB.
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 1812 union issued its own assessment of top BBG and VOA leaders in its online commentary, “Another F for a Bottom Feeder Agency.”
But in another union article, AFGE Local 1812 gave a completely different, very positive assessment of OCB Director Maria González’s leadership skills. Unlike some of the senior managers at BBG and VOA, González is much more experienced in foreign cultures, intercultural communications, and television news dealing with international affairs. She appears to have quickly adjusted to leading a federal workforce, a skill which new senior leaders at BBG and VOA don’t seem to be able to master because they have never worked before for the U.S. government or on intercultural communications or other U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. foreign policy issues.
AFGE LOCAL 1812: On Thursday, Director Gonzalez and all her managers reported to work and pitched in to direct employees to ensure that all the essential work was completed as soon as possible. Throughout the day on Thursday, the Director was responsive to AFGE Local 1812 representatives, answering union concerns promptly and expeditiously.
Also on Thursday, non-emergency employees were granted administrative leave. It was decided that all emergency employees would only have to stay until all their essential work was completed and then would be granted administrative leave in order to get home in time to be with their families and to prepare their homes for the hurricane. Most, if not all, were granted administrative leave by 2:00pm that day.
Moreover, an emergency contact phone number for the employees was set up so employees could call in for updates. Employees were instructed to check the emergency number to see when they should report back to work.
Thankfully, Hurricane Matthew did not wreak much havoc in Miami and its environs (unlike our fellow employees in Greenville, N.C.). But Radio/TV Marti was prepared for the threat and the worst case scenario and we appreciate that.
READ MORE: HUZZAHS ON HANDLING A HURRICANE, American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, October 2016
ALSO SEE: BBG, VOA union employees give an F to top leaders, BBG Watch, October 19, 2016
Non-federal elements of the BBG do not participate in the OPM employee satisfaction survey, but there is also anecdotal evidence and employee comments suggesting that Radio Free Asia (RFA) has a good leader in Director Libby Liu. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which like BBG and VOA seems to be still run by some of the long-time managers interested in preserving status quo.
We do not have enough information to make a fair assessment of Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) management in charge of Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa. RFA, RFE/RL, and MBN employees are not surveyed by OPM because these three are non-federal entities.
It is obvious from 2016 FEVS results, that the BBG as an agency, and VOA as one of its federal entities, have senior executives who in the eyes of federal employees lack the necessary experience and skills to provide effective leadership and generate genuine employee engagement.
The AFGE Local 1812 union had a word of advice in this area for BBG CEO John Lansing and VOA Director Amanda Bennett:
AFGE Local 1812: Following the example of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company which met with its front-line people when it was facing bankruptcy to find out what went wrong, maybe it’s time for less of the top-down management style in our Agency and more of the “from the bottom-up” open and frank and direct conversations with the rank-and-file without the filter of the entrenched bureaucracy. As the woeful recipients of the “bottom feeder” and “worst place to work in the federal government” monikers, what do the new Directors have to lose.
READ MORE: Another F for a Bottom Feeder Agency, American Federation of Government Employees, AFGE Local 1812, October, 2016.