News: Around our Diverse Asia-Pacific Region

FED leadership workshop--let's keep talking

Published Sept. 24, 2014
Far East District employees discussing district's mission and vision in a small group.

Far East District employees discussing district's mission and vision in a small group.

By Maria Lee
US Army Corps of Engineers-Far East District Public Affairs

SEOUL, South Korea - If there is one take away from the FED Leadership Workshop, it is to get employees to talk to each other more.  If you are reading this, I hope when you finish you will tell your co-workers about it.  Or better yet, go find someone you met at the workshop and continue one of the discussions you had in your small groups.

We discussed our district vision quite a bit throughout the workshop and the values nested within it.  We talked about what it means to be trusted, forthright, focused, professional and proud. We also shared with each other some challenges we face with those values.  In some sessions, our values developed into intense discussions on areas we need serious improvement at the district.

To be completely transparent, there were a lot of challenges that were addressed by our employees. On the forefront of our list included poor management, fear of retaliation for being forthright, lack of training, poor work ethics, inequalities, broken communication, and cultural differences.  Our employees were courageous to share with us these challenges at the workshop and discuss in detail their hardships.

From those discussions we also talked about solutions.  Applying some critical thinking skills, our employees explored the challenges from different angles together.  They brought lessons learned from past experiences and some out-of-the-box thinking to resolve age old problems. 

It wasn’t easy.  And honestly, we were not able to come up with fixes for a lot of the challenges presented.  There was not enough time within the day and some of the challenges were deeply rooted in other problems.

As with the “to see the forest from the trees” analogy used during the workshop, our discussions were just a peak into managerial and operational challenges of running a district.  And until we take a longer analytical look of the whole forest and each of the trees including their roots, it is hard to understand our weaknesses so that we can turn them into our strengths.

Turning our back on the forest and the trees will not solve anything.  Turning our back on the problems we have at work will not solve anything.

The workshop is our district’s call to action and where we began our discussions about how to improve our district.  The key is to keep talking about our challenges and confront them together so we can develop realistic and effective solutions.

On a brighter note, we did discover a lot of pride in our district.  There is a certain kind of camaraderie amongst our colleagues that shined through as we conducted our teambuilding exercises.  As our people cheered each other on and sought vision together even when blindfolded, sparks of pride and professionalism flourished.

Let’s keep talking, okay?  The workshop was not meant to be just a one-day thing.  Our mission and vision is enduring and everyone has a part in making it happen.  Almost everyone has made individual and personal pledges to help improve our district.  Let’s keep up the good work!

Release no. 14-046