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Game Management Staff Does Not Trust Its WRD Leaders

A simmering cauldron of discontent in WRD's Game Management section boiled over in the comment section of an employee survey last July.

GON Staff | November 24, 2010

There is strong discontent between the field staff in Game Management and the WRD/Game Management headquarters in Social Circle. In July, the field staff vented annomoulsy via an employee survey.

As these comments attest, game management programs, wildlife and sportsmen are suffering, and the staff that implements those programs consider themselves poorly led.

Each number below indicates a different game management employee as they speak for themselves.

(Twenty-three of the 41 comments are listed here; some comments have been shortened to accommodate space. All 41 complete comments are available through a link at the end of this article.)

1 — It seems that field staff are not fully informed most of the time about pending changes or issues. HQ does not ask for field input until a decision has been made. HQ should have quarterly meetings with the Tech IV’s to update them and discuss issues so they can keep field staff updated. The creation of the Issues Committee is a good idea, but I am not aware of any productive results. Issues come up ,and nothing is done with them. The Law Enforcement Section (LE) is moving in a forward/positive direction, and Game Management (GM) is stagnant/moving backwards. GM has become a reactive agency instead of a proactive agency. There are trust issues between HQ and field staff.

2 — Communication between Field Staff and HQ from my perspective is almost non-existent. (DNR Commissioner) Chris Clark sends out an update once a week to keep everyone informed as to what current issues are. In Game Management our only form of information dispersion is “The Rumor Mill.” Headquarters wonders why rumors run rampant. Most of the time we “Field Staff” hear about issues and incidents only through the rumor mill. Game Management really needs a weekly newsletter that addresses issues and incidents, as well as the views and direction of HQ.

3 — By Virtue of the Chain-of-command process(COC), the door is only as open as allowed by this process. I feel comfortable sharing, but due to overloading the Social Circle (HQ) administration with potentially —- information we use the COC communication structure. If I request an audience with the HQ staff, I feel certain that the Region Supervisor will grant… If he deems it appropriate… and I highly regard his opinion.

4 — Need you to take a look at how we spend our time and get us refocused on our top one or two priorities. Recently, just keeping up with the emails related to committees, IT, personnel and employee surveys has become quite a chore.

5 — Customer service training needs to be improved, especially dealing with internal customers. There is a lack of respect for POST Certified techs. It is time for a change.

6 — Something ? to raise moral. Something ? to make Game Management field personnel to feel part of the organization, not just someone that works a WMA. Example: L.E. to WMA workers, “Y’all get throw ropes.” Game Management to WMA workers, “Y’all don’t get them.” What’s the deal with that? (Do) we call L.E. if we need to do a rescue?

7 — Re-emphasize DNR’s core values: preserve, conserve, protect and enhance the resource while de-emphasizing policy changes without biological data to justify the changes in season and bag limits.

8 — Replace them. (HQ)

9 — Customer service needs to be revisited by HQ, especially internal customers. Lack of respect by HQ for LE techs. Time for a change!!

10 — Get in the field, and show support for region staff. Create goals ie; technician of the year. Give help where help is needed.

11 — While there is a lot of trust between Region Supervisor and HQ in this region, the field staff aren’t necessarily aware of how much HQ is working for them. Maybe more involvement of field staff at HQ (attendance meetings or HQ updates) done at the region level 1x or 2x/year would be helpful for establishing more trust.

12 — Need to improve communication between HQ and field staff. HQ staff needs to visit regularly periodically. Someone at HQ needs to devote part of their time to personnel issues and communication with regions. Evaluation would be more effective if HQ questions were asked so that Chief and Assistant Chief could be evaluated separately.

13 — I think we are headed in the right direction with GM Issues Committee. More and better communication between regions and HQ.

14 — The (survey) scores do not represent a personal bias against HQ staff. Never are there any opportunities for input on issues that arise and decisions are made without any explanation or justification to field staff. Examples of leadership and accountability don’t exist. Leadership has to start at the top in order to be implemented throughout the ranks. Field staff have lost all hope of conditions improving. HQ need to realize that our field staff wants to be a part of the solution, and not an adversary.

15 — There is too little real contact from HQ with the field. Too much of an “instant response” management style from HQ. No time for HQ to interact with staff. It seems our mission has changed from wildlife management to supplying info for some entity or entities above Division level.

16 — Get out in the field with your people so they know who you are and what you stand for. Establish open lines of communication, listen to the people on the ground, act on what they tell you, and let them know you did it.

17 — Field staff has no trust in HQ. Too much rumor. How do you control rumor? Be up front, answer the questions in person to field staff, right or wrong. Seems to be too many secrets out there. Be a leader!

18 — Develop and share long-term plans for GM with associates. Hold a statewide GM meeting. Hire additional help at HQ. HQ staff overworked and stretched too thin. Field needs positive responses from HQ not negative, ie; Chief losing temper. GM feels other sections are represented in the Director’s office, but are we? Does HQ staff stand up for us at that level? I am sure the answer is yes, but is this communicated to field staff? Please stop telling our associates that if they do not like something, they can work somewhere else.

19 — We need someone to represent us in the legislature. The days of “they love their job, they’ll get over it” should be over. If someone does something wrong in some other agency, don’t punish us. Threats, intimidation, and tantrums are not the tools of leaders. If you don’t want rumors, keep us informed. The mushroom story. Don’t tell us one thing to keep us from looking out for our good, and then do the other at the last minute… Now we feel like we will be thrown under the bus… We should not go to work each day afraid of what’s next. This is not a recent problem since the bad economy. It has been happening for years.

20 — It is my belief that if HQ would share more information with field staff on what is going on, there would be less room for rumors. I wouldn’t include all HQ staff in this statement, but sharing ideas or asking questions of HQ staff usually ends up nowhere, or turns into an argument of some kind. In the matter of field trusting HQ, trust is non-existent.

21 — Need to recognize staff concerns and don’t automatically discard them. Our goals are not clear. We seem to jump from one priority to another. Criticism is usually not taken well by HQ staff. Too many times the reason for decisions given to field staff is “because we said so.”

22 — Our wildlife opening program is a public relations program. The phrase politically correct should not be in our vocabulary.

23 — HQ does not support GM. Not enough room to tell all. Much of the problem is lack of quality leadership at the Director’s level.

GON is working to hold interviews with WRD HQ about this matter in the near future. How they react to this feed-back from the field is important to all of us. It will take some time for HQ to rebuild trust with its employees and with sportsmen. We will follow their progress.

Click here to download a 6-page PDF file that contains all 41 comments.

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