About jbmiller

Jeanne Miller is an Instructional Designer and HR Curriculum Manager with the Graduate School USA Curriculum and Learning Solutions. Jeanne is a former federal HR Officer and HR program evaluator and has had extensive experience and education in both federal HR and the instructional design arena, including the development, design, and/or writing of an extensive array of both classroom and distance education courses for adult learners.

OPM Reports 4 Percent Increase in Use of Official Time Over Two Years

The Office of Personnel Management released a report Thursday on the use of official time at federal agencies in fiscal 2016, stating that the amount of paid time used by union officials for representational duties had increased by 4.12 percent since fiscal 2014.

In a press release accompanying the report, OPM officials assailed the practice, in which federal employees are compensated for their work on behalf of the union for representational matters, calling it “taxpayer funded union time” that does not serve the public interest.

“In other words, official time is treated as work time, thus is funded by the American taxpayers while no service to the taxpayer is performed,” OPM wrote.

The report found that in fiscal 2016, union employees… [for more, click here]

Do you agree with OPM officials that ” official time is treated as work time, thus is funded by the American taxpayers while no service to the taxpayer is performed”? Why or why not? Use examples from your agency to support your opinion.

$174,789,810 for Official Time in FY 2016

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued its latest report on “official time.” Official time is a term used to describe time spent by federal employee union representatives who receive their government salary and benefits while performing duties as a union official.

According to a press release from OPM: “Official time, more accurately referred to as ‘Taxpayer Funded Union Time’ is paid time spent by Federal employees performing representational work for a bargaining unit in lieu of their regularly assigned work. In other words, official time is treated as work time, thus is funded by the American taxpayers while no service to the taxpayer is performed.

According to the OPM report, the cost for this use of paid leave by federal employees acting on behalf of a union increased by 7.55 percent from Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 to FY 2016. The cost increased from… [for more, click here].

What of the information in this article surprised you? What confirmed any previous assumptions? How does this information apply to your agency?

Union Official Time: Why a Basic Change is Needed

In this article, the author, a former federal agency labor and employee relations director, currently working with and training federal agencies to resolve employee problems at all levels, discusses the use of official time in federal labor relations. He focuses on the key question:

  • Did the Congress of the United States intend to eliminate any labor dollar cost of negotiations to an employee union and place the entire cost of the time spent by union employee representatives on the American taxpayer?

and addresses five problems with the way administrative bodies such as the FLRA and EEOC have interpreted federal labor relations law.

To read this article, click here.

Which of the five problems and discussion did you agree with? Didn’t agree with? Do you have other questions? What are they?

How Guilt Can Hold Back Good Employees

People with a tendency to feel guilty for disappointing their coworkers are among the most ethical and hard-working people to work with. However, these highly guilt-prone people may be the most reticent to enter into partnerships.

By understanding this phenomenon, managers can make the best decisions about team-building and increase productivity. (For more, click here.)

As a supervisor, how can you use the research discussed in this article to create effective workplace dynamics and increase productivity? As an employee, how can you put to use this research in your work life?

Reduce Your Stress In Two Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life, and plenty of money.  He even got along well with his in-laws!  So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time, no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished an hour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough, but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive. (For more, click here.)

Have you used any of these techniques to manage your stress? Will you put any of these into practice now, after reading this article?

How to Keep Work Stress from Taking Over Your Life

Unless you’re a robot, it’s all but impossible to avoid having work stress(don’t worry, robots, your time will come!). But it’s not impossible to avoid taking those feelings home with you at the end of the day. True leisure time, in which anxiety and frustration over work can be set aside until you’re next at the office, is essential to staying mentally in check. Here are five ways to keep work stress, rage, and anxiety where they belong. (For more, click here.)

Do you use any of these techniques? Which are you going to put into practice now?

When It Comes to Making Good Decisions, Bad Options Can Help

Think of the worst idea ever for a new business venture, one that is guaranteed to fail. Or try to imagine a truly terrible, good-for-nobody new government policy. Or even, as a class of grade school kids I know recently did, the worst idea for a birthday party. (For the record, some of those terrible party ideas included holding the event in a sewer, a joint birthday party/funeral, and, worst of all, a party with no cake.)

My guess is that this exercise, which I often run with my students and clients, was easier for you than it would have been had I asked you to come up with a great idea instead.

Many of us are in search of the elusive good idea … (For more, click here.)

Would you use this bad-ideas exercise? When and how would you do so?


How to Avoid a Sexual Harassment Claim

Nobody wants to spend time with their agency’s legal staff to deal with a mess that could have been avoided (see “How to Stay Out of Your Lawyer’s Office”). One of those messes is being involved in a sexual harassment claim.

So, what do you do? You start by acknowledging that as an executive, you set the tone for your workplace. You treat each member of your staff with respect and treat them fairly and equally.

Not only do you not engage in unwelcome behaviors, you understand that… (for more, click here).

What other ” straightforward suggestions for the workplace” would you have to help your fellow employees and agency leadership prevent sexual harassment?

Six Ways to Be a More Approachable Leader

Never underestimate the importance of being approachable to effectively managing your organization. When you are approachable, people can relate to you. They understand what is needed for success and are willing to do what it takes to get the work done. When others believe you are open to hearing what they have to say, they will tell you the things you need to know.

Being approachable doesn’t mean that you have to stop what you’re doing whenever someone needs your attention. It does mean that when you give your attention, you give it fully. Here is what it looks like … (For more, click here.)

Are you an approachable leader? Which of the characteristics discussed in this article describe you? How can you do better in this area?

Managing a Team That’s Been Asked to Do Too Much

Recent cases highlighted in the media suggest that executives, in a desperate quest to quench the market’s unquenchable thirst for growth, are ignoring reason and dictating growth targets so insurmountable that their employees are turning to unethical and perhaps illegal means to achieve their goals (e.g., Wells Fargo, Enron, VA). Are you worried about something like this happening in your organization? You might believe that you’re an innocent pawn in this game, but as a manager, you have a responsibility to ensure that unreasonable targets don’t unleash harmful behaviors on your team.

Harmful behaviors come in many forms. At the relatively mild end of the spectrum, unrealistically high targets can motivate employees to game the system using short-term tactics that can be destructive in the long run. Common examples of such trade-offs include upselling products or services that are of little value to the customer or selling at unprofitable prices. Less-common but more-dire consequences of unrealistic targets include … (For more, click here.)

Have you ever been on a team that has been asked to do too much? Led a team that’s been asked to accomplish far more than available resources will allow? What from this article will you use when you find yourself in that situation again?