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Best practices: Embracing professional development

Greensboro District Lean Six Sigma Coordinator Michael Payne
Greensboro District Lean Six Sigma Coordinator Michael Payne strives to make professional development part of his USPS work experience.

Michael Payne knows the importance of professional development.

Payne, a 23-year USPS veteran, is the Lean Six Sigma coordinator for Capital Metro Area’s Greensboro District. He took the job five years ago when his supervisor recommended him.

“I didn’t know anything about lean,” Payne says, referring to the principles that emphasize boosting efficiency, reducing waste and improving customers’ experiences. “Now I preach it, I live it and I love it.”

This kind of willingness to learn new things can help employees fulfill their professional development goals, according to Leadership and Development Director Susan McKeen.

“Participation and engagement can enhance leadership skills and prepare employees to succeed,” she says.

Payne has three tips for his fellow employees:

• Get a career coach or mentor. “I had one who helped me, and I now mentor others,” he says.

• Create an individual development plan. Employees create these plans with help from their managers, identifying training courses and other opportunities that can help the employee strengthen their skills and develop new ones.

• Partner with peers. “Develop a small peer group for idea sharing,” Payne says. “I’ve learned something from everyone I’ve worked with.”

He also encourages employees to seek detail assignments that allow them to do other jobs in the organization.

“If you want to advance, you have to show them that you can do the job,” Payne says.

“Best practices,” a new series on employees who demonstrate on-the-job excellence, appears regularly in Link.

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