Sunday, February 8, 2009

Working in Government

Working in Government is different. I've spent 18 years in government one way or another and I can personally attest to the differences between government and private enterprise. Many are good, many are bad but it is different.

While working in government you always have a mission, a very important one in fact, of providing critical services to the Citizens of your city/state/tribe or nation in one way or another. Unlike private entities where the almighty dollar (or Yen, Euro, Peso, whatever...) is the driving factor, government has a clearly defined goal of helping those you work for and are one of. Sure businesses have owners and stock holders but again the dollar is the driver. They have customers as well which is the closest connection to citizens in a government but it still is different, the customer is the means for the dollar. In government, the customers, i.e. citizens, are point of your existence. Governments have citizens that literally depend upon you and your job as a government employee for their living standards, their safety, their water, sewer or even their life.

It seems a large number of the general public seem to think that "government workers" sit around all day long and just waste their taxpaying money but from eighteen years I've seen much different. Sure there are the time wasters, but I would imagine any business you look at has the same situation. There is also silo building where one department has deemed themselves more important to the mission than others and try to force issues one way or another. But overall, if your average citizen could spend a day or two shadowing a public servant, I believe they would be satisfied with what happens every day just to keep your city, state, nation or tribal government running. Is there waste in government operations? Sure there is. Is there waste in the corporate world? Just look at the current 'bail out' efforts.

It still irks me when some friend, family member or stranger makes the blanket statement of "the government" did this to them or "the government" did that to someone. Inside I'm thinking, "Hey, I may be THAT GOVERNMENT" that you despise and you have no clue what you are talking about.

More on Change

Recently I commented on 'change' and the point of insuring that Good Change is what is accomplished when change is demanded. If 'change' is presented as a platform it works quite well for those promoting themselves since each one of us then creates our very own image of what that 'change' may be. Our vision of the change may, or more likely may not, reflect the intent of those pressing for 'change'.

Over the years of being in Government I have seen many 'changes' - most elections rally on the 'need for change' platform during the campaign process. Many have no clue what they are going to change but we just 'need change'. I have watched great talented individuals with wonderful abilities in government be forced out because 'change' was demanded only to see the 'winners' of such battles later realize they have no clue what to change.

It is true that either you "change or you die" or "you grow or you die" - I work in the technology field so change, growth, and technology death is a daily occurrence. You truly due change or die in this field. But when people demand 'change', they need to define what change they want or they will be right back where they started and everyone will be demanding 'change' again.

Worth it...

To me, all in all working in government allows me to go home after work with the thought that I helped in some small, large, or medium way, to make things better for the citizens of the government I work for and not some top executive or stock holder wealthier. That in itself is a satisfaction that cannot be measured by any stock ticker.

Tweet This Post


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

I've never worked outside the private sector, but my Dad was employed by the US Forest Service his entire career, and I can tell you that he and his coworkers busted their butts working and took their jobs very seriously. So it kind of chaps me als when people talk about the lazy bureaucrats. Its just not true.

Anonymous said...

Great post Stephen - I think the key is remembering that public service is about the needs of "those you work for and are one of." That's a pretty rewarding mission statement, really.