Poertner responds to some survey comments, charging a "lack of understanding"

The problem is you don't understand
     The SOCCCD Chancellor, Gary Poertner, has communicated with the district/colleges community with one of his occasional Chancellor’s Perspectives.
     Some of you may have read the scathing comments made by employees in the recent district “climate survey.” Interestingly, Poertner’s “perspective” includes discussion of “a few comments from employee surveys that illustrate a lack of understanding about roles and responsibilities.” I do believe that the Chancellor is referring in part to some comments provided during that survey:
“The district does not give my department sufficient supply and equipment budgets.”
     Funds are annually distributed through the District Resource Allocation Committee (DRAC), a participatory governance group, to each college and district services. All college departments are funded out of college funds and all of those decisions and allocations are made at the college level without interference from the chancellor or district services. Similarly, all district services funds are allocated through the chancellor’s office. 
“District Services seems to think it is over the colleges and not the other way around.”
     District services serves employees and departments at both the colleges and district services. District services employees are also tasked with ensuring that processes, policies, compliance, system or legal requirements are met. This should not be misconstrued as district services thinking it is “over the colleges.” One example is labor agreements. Every college and district department must comply with labor laws and existing agreements regarding prevailing wages, etc. These functions are centralized in district services to ensure continuity and compliance. This may frustrate a college department that wants to make independent decisions, however the district must protect itself from legal liability and safeguard the taxpayers that provide our funding.
Conversely, when payroll or accounting processes requests for departments, it doesn’t mean the colleges are “over district services.” Everyone in this district is serving someone and everyone in this district needs services from someone. We could all benefit from being service oriented. Any focus on one entity “over” another only serves to divide us and divert time, money and energy to issues that don’t serve our students and community. Let’s think about being team members that work together with differing but equally important functions. 
“Human Resources gives inconsistent advice about personnel issues. They give one answer in one situation and another to someone else.”
     Not every human resources issue is exactly the same, though it may appear to be for those who work outside of HR. Personnel issues are complex. Problems arise when employees “shop” this department by speaking to different people because they don’t like the first answer. Some employees may not understand who the right person is for the issue and we are working on improving this. 
“The trustees are not aware of the poor executive leadership within our district.”
     The trustees supervise only one employee – the chancellor. The chancellor supervises and evaluates the college presidents and vice chancellors and informs the board annually about their performance.
     So, there you have it. The problem, evidently, is that you don't understand roles and responsibilities. You silly nattering nabobs of negativism!


Anonymous said…
The response is so defensive. In fact, it is insulting to ask for feedback and then be told why your feedback is all wrong. Where do these people learn their leadership skills? Goodness!
Anonymous said…
It is possible that some people may not understand how the district functions and the complicated bureaucracy of the district and colleges, hence their comments. This is typical of large organizations. However, one of the Chancellor's responsibilities, and the administration's, is to remind everyone constantly how things are supposed to work. They need to understand that in large organizations not everyone is aware of all policies, procedures, priorities, or protocols. They need to put in place all different types of mechanisms to educate, communicate, clarify. The Chancellor's responses are, indeed, defensive, and this does not help the problem. It only compounds it. It blames those who complied with the request to provide feedback instead of seeing this as an opportunity to create more effective channels of communication. How sad.
Anonymous said…
Poertner has been a massive disappointment. If it is his job to supervise the Presidents then why doesn't he do anything about the IVC management? He and the Board of Trustees have been made of the problems at IVC. They have been informed in numerous ways and yet no change and no improvement all the while the top down hammering of faculty and staff continues. The stress levels and disenchantment at IVC are very high, the Deans, Classified Managers, VPs & President seem disconnected from the problems they cause and, if they are aware ..., then a shameful situation exists. Thank you Mr. Poertner for apparently not caring about the health of IVC. Please Mr. Poertner, resign.
Anonymous said…
He is correct, there is definitely a lack of understanding. He found the person responsible when he looked in the mirror.
Anonymous said…
If there is dissatisfaction among a number of faculty and staff then the best approach is to address and correct these perceptions head on and get to the bottom of it. We all understand that this may not be an easy task. However, the approach should not be to dismiss the comments by merely saying that people simply don't understand. Let us not forget that these administrators are paid very generous salaries. They are paid to solve these kinds of problems, among others, to be proactive, engaged, to demonstrate high levels of ethical standards. They need to realize that the most powerful asset this district and these colleges have are its people, its faculty and staff. I'm afraid many administrators, though not all, just pay lip service to this notion.
Anonymous said…
Apparently we all jest 2 stoopid 2 understand. What an arrogant and condescending article. A perfect example of the problem and how it has always been handled. Pathetic.
Anonymous said…

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