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Into the shadows

Workers observe managers, gain insights

Man leans over desk, discussing document with uniformed postal worker
San Francisco Postmaster Abraham Cooper, left, helps San Bruno, CA, Letter Carrier Pavlin Zanev learn about his job during their recent “shadow day” together.

Pavlin Zanev didn’t fully appreciate what a Postmaster’s job entailed until he spent a recent day “shadowing” San Francisco Postmaster Abraham Cooper.

Zanev, a San Bruno, CA, letter carrier, followed Cooper as he went from one task to another, serving customers, managing employees and dealing with unexpected problems.

“He never stopped,” Zanev said.

Zanev was chosen to shadow Cooper after the letter carrier attended a San Francisco District career conference.

Shadowing has become a staple of the Postal Service’s professional development activities, which are part of the organization’s broader focus on engaging, equipping and empowering employees.

The experience offers a window into the daily life of a manager, allows employees to learn about other postal jobs, and provides workers with valuable insights that could help them further their careers.

Managers also find the experience rewarding, according to Swansea, SC, Postmaster Dustin Mixson, who was recently shadowed by Ashton Nalley, a retail associate.

In addition to showing Nalley what he does during a typical day, Mixson helped educate her about the “lean” continuous improvement process.

“Being able to use the continuous improvement platform to guide [employees] in discovering their true potential is both fulfilling and instrumental in our ever changing culture,” he said.

Another San Francisco District career conference attendee, Mailing Standards Specialist Joslyn Thornton, was chosen to shadow Sr. Plant Manager Raj Sanghera.

“I was thoroughly impressed by how, even being the senior plant manager, she was able to go onto the floor and everyone was comfortable enough to talk to her,” Thornton said.

“Everyone knew what needed to be done, and by what time, to make sure that the mail gets out.”

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