Steward Spotlight: Region 1
For 13 years, MAPE members in Region 1 have been served by longtime steward, Jed Becher. Eight of those years, Becher has been chief steward, a position he’s happy to hold, but one he’s willing to part with if another steward wants to take the reins. It was his own need for a steward that brought Becher to MAPE leadership nearly 20 years ago after an IT study led to the changing of his classification, a decision he appealed with the help of a MAPE steward.
Becher now works for MNIT at the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and one of the steward success stories he’s most proud of came from a lot of work through the DNR Meet and Confer process to address low morale in one of the agency’s departments.
“We held three listening sessions with employees in that department,” Becher said. “And we had people crying in every one of them. Staff were intimidated by one problem director and morale was terrible.”
Through a newly-revived Meet and Confer committee, the agency’s deputy commissioner heard major concerns that couldn’t be dismissed.
“It took some time after sharing feedback from nine or 10 members, but eventually DNR staff were told the director was moving on to other opportunities,” Becher said. “Our Meet and Confer Team played a big part in keeping the pressure on and escalating to the deputy commissioner.”
Prior to a new director for that office being hired, management interviewed department staff, asking what traits were desirable in a leader and employees felt the agency was thoughtful in hiring the new director. Since then, department morale is on the rebound.
Becher’s steward tip for members under the gun from their supervisor is to communicate more regularly and err on the side of over-communicating rather than pulling back and disconnecting because that can cause even more issues with your supervisor and upper management.
“Lean into it and pick up communication with management,” Becher advised.