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Best practices: Talking to employees about work

Oklahoma District Post Office Operations Manager Robbie Steelman
Oklahoma District Post Office Operations Manager Robbie Steelman regularly gives feedback to employees who report to him.

You always know where you stand with Robbie Steelman.

Steelman, an Oklahoma District Post Office operations manager, regularly communicates with the individuals he supervises to let them know how they’re doing.

“As the leader, you have to have a clear understanding of what the goal is when discussing progress,” he says. “It’s about feedback and making sure employees feel they can always contact me.”

The Postal Service encourages this kind of approach.

One of the engagement principles used by the organization calls on managers and supervisors to talk to employees about their progress — and not just during twice-a-year performance appraisals.

Steelman says he makes time to regularly talk with employees and follow up with them as needed, although he uses discretion depending on the type of message he’s delivering.

“If there is a breakdown in the process, I will not call someone out in front of others,” he says. Instead, he will address the matter one-on-one.

In contrast, when it comes to issuing praise, a congratulatory email or public acknowledgement is always appreciated.

Steelman, who supervises 57 people, is the only Post Office operations manager who had all of his or her direct reports respond to last year’s Postal Pulse employee survey.

He hopes to continue the streak when the next survey window opens Tuesday, May 22.

“How do we ask employees to complete the survey when we don’t take time to complete the survey ourselves as leaders? You have to set the example,” he says. “Go out and talk about the survey by leading with ‘Hey, I did my survey. It’s time for your feedback.’”

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

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