Breakdown in Communications?

Yesterday’s O has lengthy piece on the divide between PDOT management and the road paving crews in the Bureau of Maintenance. The argument boils down to the central office folks saying (and the Auditor agreeing) that best practices (and in some cases State law) are not being followed, while the crews say they know best what’s happening on the ground.

Now normally, I’m in favor of empowering the front line folks, they generally do have the best knowledge of the details of the job. However, for that to work, there has to be alignment on goals from top to bottom in the organization. It’s not clear at all that such alignment exists here.

In fact, there’s an indicator of a significant difference in values. Earlier this year, during the PDOT Budget Advisory Process there was a survey of both the public and PDOT employees. The survey results for the Maintenance Bureau employees showed much less enthusiasm for bikes and transit than the rest of PDOT, or indeed, than the general public.

Time to create a consistent vision from top to bottom in the organization. I think Commissioner Sam and Director Sue Kiel are up to it.

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