• Project Title:
  • First-Line Supervisor Recruitment and Retention
  • Start Date:
  • Tuesday, April 16, 2019
  • Estimated Report Release Date:
  • December 2019

First-line supervisors play a critical role in any organization and influence productivity, quality, and employee engagement. At the U.S. Postal Service, they significantly contribute to accomplishing USPS goals, including ensuringcustomers receive quality service and mail and parcels on time. 

Our audit focuses on first-line supervisors at retail and mail processing facilities. For the purposes of our work, we define a first-line supervisor as the first layer of management directly above the craft employee. These include supervisors of customer service, distribution operations, maintenance operations, and transportation operations. Our objective is to assess whether the Postal Service is effectively hiring and retaining first-line supervisors.

  • How well does the Postal Service hire and retain first-line supervisors?
  • What are reasons employees pursue first-line supervisor positions?
  • What are challenges in recruiting and retaining qualified first-line supervisors?
  • What opportunities exist to strengthen management’s ability to attract and retain skilled first-line supervisors? 
     

Comments (15)

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  • anon

    Been in the Postal Service 30 plus years, 10 plus a STO over 3000 hours sick time, not even close to the top of my pay grade, I supervise over 35 people, one super over 35 people, really, constantly told to do TACS,service talks, all the paperwork to go with it, I have new people come to me and ask about being a supervisor I try to steer them away I tell them to stay in the craft you'll make more money with overtime with far less responsibility.

    May 19, 2019
  • anon

    The post office hires and retains frontline supervisors EXTREMELY poorly. In the hiring process, primary issues include: nepotism, little to no incentive for qualified senior (knowledgeable) craft employees to seek promotion, nepotism, and poor treatment by managing officials with special emphasis on micromanagement and hollow disciplinary actions. Retention, which is already impacted by poor workplace culture, is made worse by the Pay for Performance system, which does little to pay good performers, and encourages a merry-go-round of detail assignments and promotions to the next lowest possible higher level in order to chase the reward of a "promotion pay increase" (usually 10%). Employees pursue supervisor positions, because: 1) they have done the craft jobs long enough to master them and are looking for more fulfilling careers in a higher level office. (Many of these already hold advanced degrees) 2) they experienced bad management and believed that they could do a better job or make a positive impact on the workplace. 3) To make more money! 4) They hate doing the physical craft jobs because they are lazy or just broken down. 5) They were encouraged early by a manager who favored them and allowed them numerous opportunities to stand in as 204-B. (read.. they're kind of a suck-up and somewhat masochistic) Challenges include low pay. Yes, contrary to popular belief supervisors are not well compensated because senior craft employees can clear 6 figures annually working overtime and enjoy a much better protected schedule and thusly, a better work life balance dealing with less responsibility or headaches. More than anything else retention is hampered by managers who demand perfection (despite an inability to train or achieve it themselves), have terrible communication skills, less than minimal professionalism or human decency, and spend their entire shift micromanaging the floor rather than providing what the unit needs to be successful by fixing the root cause of problems such as staffing models, supplies, and training (no shortage of meetings talking around the issues though). Recruiting needs a new independent merit based system that doesn't reward backdoor detail assignments and sweetheart deals. This is a challenge because any vocal opposition to the status quo will result in being outcast from opportunities. Raise starting salaries by about 10-20% to compete with craft salary plus 2hr base OT or replace Pay for Performance with a better alternative that rewards individual effort such as attendance, individual unit productivity and work hour usage, not chasing metrics that may not actually translate to a functional efficient effort to clear mail on time. Stop destroying work life balance with inconsistent scheduling, inability to get earned annual leave approved, mandatory 12 hr days (everyday) and outright favoritism in work assignment decision making. Avoid treating supervisors like they are disposable by issuing letters of warning and other disciplinary items in lieu of training and discussion to improve performance. No one actually gets fired unless they did something extreme. It demoralizes supervisors who are motivated but ill equipped. It rewards a pass the buck culture, where instead of fixing problems managers engage in hot potato antics, often lying or misreporting. Possibly look into moving all aspects of local EAS hiring selection to unbiased HQ level teams to uphold integrity of merit based promotions.

    May 13, 2019
  • anon

    In 30 years of work experience, with multiple academic degrees, I have never, EVER seen so much incompetence, lack of respect, and blatant disregard for the fundamentals of customer service, human resource management, and basic human decency as I've seen in Postmasters and "first-line supervisors" in the USPS. Quite frankly, the USPS should be ashamed of itself for its organizational disarray, for allowing these people to continue to have jobs, for paying these people the salaries they receive the push fake numbers around, to cough up BS reports, and to bully their employees, while contributing absolutely nothing to the actual product or services of the USPS. The USPS is too top-heavy in management already. How about you have fewer managers in general? Management simply uses resources, energy, and... does little except to cause drama while chasing away good employees who simply want to do their jobs and go home.

    May 07, 2019
  • anon

    When I first started with the PO, I had just graduated the previous year with an associates degree in Management. I thought I had gone back in time 50+ years. It hasn't really changed in the 27 years I have been here. Far too many unqualified, incompetent supervisors and managers have run our morale into the ground. Since we promote from within, the climate never gets a chance to improve. Maybe it is time to try a few outsiders to break the cycle. And for God's sake, please make them responsible for THEIR BEHAVIOR, not just the numbers. The USPS will live or die by the discretionary effort of its employees.

    May 07, 2019
  • anon

    I’ve been a model employee as a rural carrier for 11 years and am looking for other careers to attain as the company isn’t what it used to be. I “trained” as a 204b for three days a few years ago. That’s all the longer it took for me to decide it wasn’t worth my time to pursue any further. Upper management seems to be trying to run the company into the ground and less qualified supervisors are useless to new supervisors in most cases. Basically the job of a supervisor is just excessive micromanaging every little thing and filing useless reports by certain times. They aren’t trained properly and always get thrown under the bus by the established management when something goes wrong. Here’s what made me go back to my route after just three days: Day 3: Postmaster told me before I was sent to this office that he wanted fresh eyes to know what needs fixed. He has been informed of such things I have noticed but told me they’re nothing he’s concerned about. The manager strolls in late to the office and is gone within the hour for “lunch”. He calls me about 3 hours later and said he just wasn’t coming back to work that day and that if any problems occur to call him. It was a Friday so he was gone for the weekend and the other supervisors left around 2pm to also not return to the office. So here I was to close down the station by myself on day #3. I did not have access to half of the programs supervisors need to close a station, I spent the day correcting issues that other supervisors “fixed” but didn’t actually do anything with, and I did not have access to send messages to carriers scanners informing them to use an alternate route to get back to the post office when an accident occurred completely blocking the main road to the post office off. I spent 11 hours at work that day mostly by myself on my third day. Absolutely not worth the hassle for the joke that it is. Management needs restructured from the top down with proper training for everyone on a uniform basis. There are too many differences between offices in the same city for a nationally run business.

    May 07, 2019
  • anon

    I have been trying for a supervisor position for nearly 2 years. I’m a rural carrier with 22 years and facilitator for 3 years. I’m not sure what you consider a qualified supervisor but I believe your missing out by not considering rural carriers also. Was told by management clerks are better suited for supervisors.

    May 07, 2019
  • anon

    I have been troubled by the policy that when a carrier pursues a higher position as a supervisor they eventually have to decide to continue in their career as a manager or risk being sent back to being a CCA if they go past a certain time line. I am not certain if this is different in various parts of the country or if it's a nationwide policy. If a well seasoned carrier with say 25 years of experience wants to become a manager for three years and then return to their old job of carrying mail because it becomes too stressful or perhaps the upper management changes and they don't get along, they can't do anything but stick it out, transfer or quit. I've seen this happen in the 5 years I've been a carrier. I think this blocks many carriers from pursuing a supervisor position. It's too bad because I know a lot of great people who would be fantastic.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    If the supervisors worked more than two hours and have other supervisors clock the hours for them. Lazy is the only word that comes to mind. Carry mail for six months and know more than 20 year veterans. You have no quality control over who becomes a supervisor most of the time it the bottom of the barrel because regular carriers don’t want to be in that position.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    First line supervision in L21 offices on down are just a means to acquiring a postmaster position. Not considered a permanent position. You ask how to retain? It would require a different approach from the postmaster in charge. Inflexibility of schedule, overworking, pushing work down to supervisor to ease duties of postmaster might be learning the job of hard knocks. It makes or breaks individuals. First line supervision is being in between a rock (postmaster) and a hard spot (employees and customers). They take it from all directions. If you want to retain, possibly a defined job description that cannot be overruled by postmaster.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    A very important question not listed her is "What are the reasons employees do not pursue first line supervisor positions? Why are so many qualified employees who might otherwise pursue a management position at a different employer so completely turned off by doing so at USPS.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    You guys are kidding right ? I just finished up 30 years at PO and if YOU guys don’t know how they are recruited or hired then you’ve never stepped foot in an office . Guys who run routes , gals who are pretty , relatives , broken down carriers , carriers who are a detriment to public relations....THOSE are the people who are front line supervisors. People who will do whatever the boss says ( wether it’s screw the employees on hours , “pivots” or 99s ) because they NEVER want to carry again. This isn’t a place where the best and brightest get moved up . If you move them up PRODUCTIVITY declines and someone won’t get their bonus . Can’t.Have.That !

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    Agree. Simply put: You screw up, you move up.

    May 07, 2019
  • anon

    They promote the city carriers that can't hack it at their jobs. Every facility I have been to, management has literally been full of washed up city carriers(and CCA's working as 204b's). My office seems to get some great management, and then upper management tasks them out to other offices(to fix their messes) and we get stuck with people that are just terrible. Literally supervisors that are solely out to make themselves look good to the upper management- and will stop at nothing to get themselves there, even by ruining the morale of the office. We wanted to have a party when that particular manager left. Our current(good) management we have, have already been taken from us for weeks- leaving us with random people filling in left and right.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    Supervisor positions seem to be the same as every position in the Post Office, jobs seem to be filled based on needs instead of someone who can actually do the job.

    May 06, 2019
  • anon

    The majority of the time, supervisors put all of the work on subordinates and they take no responsibility for their own actions. The supervisors are supposed to be the ones who train subordinates, but that never happens because they are basically trying to belittle employees and hold them back from escalating. It's shameful that higher ups let this happen especially when lies are being told and cover-ups happening. I hope this change and people keep their eyes opened to see the wrong-doings and speak out. Somebody has to monitor the candy store when supervisors and managers are taking advantage of people and the system. Yep!

    May 08, 2019

Poll

How likely are you to apply for a first-line supervisor position?

Very unlikely
67% (45 votes)
Not likely
18% (12 votes)
Neutral
0% (0 votes)
Likely
4% (3 votes)
Very likely
10% (7 votes)
Total votes: 67

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