An employee of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was only minutes away from retirement, when he decided that it was a perfect opportunity for him to express his displeasure with the organization.
Michael Stuban worked with the PTC for 35 years, but had been growing increasingly irritated with the way it operated. While filling out his exit assessment, Stuban decided to make it clear just how aggrieved he’s been feeling. When faced with two options, a) submit it solely within the HR department, or b) choose ‘Reply All’ and let all of his co-workers see what he truly thinks about them. Stuban choose the latter option.
Surprisingly, Stuban claimed in the assessment that he truly enjoyed his job. He started by saying, “I really didn’t want to retire yet… The first 30 years were great but the last 5 years are terrible.” But then the questionnaire turned to focusing on the most ‘upsetting part’ of his job. To this, he claimed, “The phoneyness.”
Stuban confirmed what many critics of large-scale bureaucracies contend on a regular basis, that the Turnpike Commission is guilty of political favoritism, granting better jobs and promotions to friends and allies rather than “qualified” personnel who have worked their way up the ladder. Good employees have been effectively pushed aside thanks to this culture. Stuban believes this lack of principle has bleed into a lack of morale within the organization, making employees less apt at communicating among each other.
How did the higher ups at the Turnpike Commission react to Stuban’s harsh words?
Sean Logan, chairman of the Turnpike Commission, sent a reply-all to Stuban and the employees. In it, he mentioned that the organization couldn’t be too “bad of a place considering [Stuban] stayed for 35 years.” He added a wry “best of luck in your retirement,” to the end.
Stuban isn’t backing down from his impulsive email, claiming it needed to be said. Conversely, Logan wishes Stuban had done it another way. He told PennLive, “I thought it was a very disingenuous way to communicate your issues,” but then conceded, “Should I have communicated more frequently? That’s a valid point.”
Transparency is a hard concept to master in any bureaucracy. Even someone who’s risen the ranks like Stuban (a mid-level manager) can oftentimes feel lost in the shuffle. As the anger and irritations of day-to-day operations continue to mount, this kind of visceral response becomes more of an inevitability. It’s surprising that Stuban waited 35 years to do it.
Now that he’s retired, Stuban plans to do a bit of traveling as a volunteer at his church.
— russfordyce (@russfordyce) December 7, 2016