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Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Crabbes in the Bucket: Secret OHA Employee Surveys Reveal Distrust, Anger
By Andrew Walden @ 3:23 AM :: 2961 Views :: OHA

by Andrew Walden

Office of Hawaiian Affairs surveys of its own employees show intense employee distrust and anger at top management.  Results of employee satisfaction surveys conducted in April, 2015 and November, 2016 were kept confidential within the OHA Administrative offices.  But now an OHA source has given Hawai'i Free Press dozens of pages of internal documents which shine a harsh light on working conditions at OHA.

An April, 2015 survey showed that 98% of OHA employees agree with OHA’s mission -- but a whopping 62% felt OHA was not ‘pono’ and 53% felt OHA showed lack of lack of aloha.   Only three employees felt OHA always showed aloha. (April, 2015 Survey Report pg 5)

These survey results were used internally to justify OHA CEO Kamana’o Crabbe’s abortive “One Voice, One Message” power grab in a December 23, 2015 memo to “All OHA”.   Unsurprisingly to everyone except Crabbe, the 2016 follow-up survey shows continuing lack of aloha and pono.

A section from the 2016 survey Ka Aha Narrative Report  titled “Gossip v. Aloha” explains: “(Employee) comments in this theme highlighted misinformation, miscommunication, and uncertainty within OHA….  some did note that staff are uninformed and ‘people outside of the agency know before us.’ …. ‘Too much want-a-bees getting caught up in the hype of being N(ative) H(awaiian) cultural experts, lessons that was never instilled by their tutu.’”  (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 11.)

The 2016 survey reports: “the majority of employees felt no or minimal progress was made (64%), 22% felt some progress was made, and 13% felt good or excellent progress was made. These findings represent a decrease in perceived progress from the baseline, wherein a smaller percentage of employees felt no or minimal progress was made (50%). In fact, in 2016 employees indicated that the least progress was made toward the goal of improved organization culture, in comparison to the other three goals.” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 24-25.)

The raw comments are even sharper.  Here are some of the highlights:

“Stop corruption at the Administrative level…including the family and friends plan. It’s obvious and blatant in the face of the OHA BOT, staff and eventually it will get out, making OHA laughable—still and again. Accountability to staff including documentation of fundraisers and answer the hard questions. Start to practice and implement what Administration is preaching to others.”  (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 30.)

“Administration is doing nothing to improve conditions for employees and the organization. It is the reason why employees are getting frustrated and leaving OHA.” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 24.)

“There is terrible morale at OHA and much or this comes from erratic decision-making, bad management and favoritism for some employees and programs over others.” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 24.)

“OHA’s leadership needs to practice what they preach and not do as they want to.” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 30.)

“…there has been a ʻcrabs in a bucketʻ attitude and temperament within the workplace. In all honesty, attitude reflects leadership (or lack thereof).” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 31.)

“…The core values were promoted for 3-4 months. Where is it now? There are no longer core value cards circulated between the staff, If this was an important initiative, it needs to be practiced by ALL, specifically the Executive and Management teams…” (Nov 2016 Survey Report, pg 31.)

Those were comments selected by Crabbe’s insiders for the final report, but the raw comments included on a spreadsheet are even more revealing:

“(1) Stop being paranoid about confidentiality.  OHA is so worried about so-called "damaging" information getting out that all of our communication end up saying nothing.  Plus, everything seems to end up as confidential.  It's like none of us can talk about anything.    (2) Information should be freely shared.  Especially between the BOT and Administration.    (3) Mandatory face-to-face meetings between Top Admin Officers and each Trustee on a monthly basis.  Trustees go months without the change to have a real conversation with [Administration and Directors].  This is how misunderstanding and resentment develops.”   (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 1 Data)

“Reconcile aspects of favoritism, nepotism and unethical behavior internally.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 3 Data)

“To improve effectiveness at OHA: CHANGE MANAGEMENT, by doing this it would be one way to produce an effect that would drastically improve moral. The loss of employee's these past two years has a dramatic cause and effect on effectiveness as well as efficiency.”  (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“Suggestions are good but since the last Survey...water coolers.    Nothing much has changed.  Morale is at a all-time low.    Look at the exiting employee count.  Its gotten worst...so why follow "faulty" leadership?  Stop cronyism and its effects..be PONO.”  (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“End the competition/rivalry between Administrative officers and the BOT.”  (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“Core Values should be start with and demonstrated by the KPs (Administration), Directors and Managers.  The Family and Friends plan is alive and well and is in direct conflict with the culture values of OHA.  When and only when this stops can the morale be improved.  Otherwise, forget it; its ho`opuni.    The EEBP is misleading to those who want to take advantage.  Paying and reimbursed costs is problematic when one is on "fixed" income unlike those in favor who get positions they are not qualified to do. Internal corruption is alive and well in OHA while beneficiaries get "minimal" if nothing from THEIR trust funds. So why should anyone care? When will these issues be addressed and resolved?” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 3 Data)

“Management should be accountable. But they seem to be the worst leaders/role models in the agency…. Do things with a purpose instead of wasting everyone's time.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“Line staff are confused when managers are observed as the largest offenders of coming to work on time and putting in their hours.  ….  So many staff never get opportunities for growth, while the same people are benefiting from things like training and travel.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“Kulia - few people in our paia (workgroup) and our agency exude kulia, they do not necessarily strive for excellence and few people are problem solvers.  Unfortunately that means those that do exude kulia take on substantial responsibilities.    OHA Education benefit - it seems like certain employees are allowed to go back to school, while others have been denied.  there is no consistency or rationale about who gets modified schedules and who doesn't.  in our paia our lob director and two of our managers (perhaps just "directors and managers") are attending school, sometimes during the work day, while at least one of our staff that is not currently in a leadership role has been denied the ability to go to school.” -- (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 3 Data) 

“Why are leaders allowed to be out of the office 4 hours a day to do things not within their department's responsibility while their staff are mired in interpersonal conflicts?”  -- (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data) 

“My work environment impedes my work efficiency, the office can be so loud, when people have meetings/conversations at their cubicle or even in their office the sound echoes and is amplified. Sometimes I can literally get nothing done if the person next to me is talking to someone else, especially if it is non-work related--maybe we need like more OHA mixers or "social" events to people can catch up and get to know one another so they don't need to do it on OHA time.” -- (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)   

“Get people to do their jobs. There are a lot of people on Facebook and whatever instead of actually working.” -- (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data) 

“Although I understand OHA's vision and mission based on its statutory and constitutional mandates, I disagree that the organization actually applies it in practice.  There is terrible morale at OHA and much of this comes from erratic decision-making, bad management and favoritism for some employees and programs over others.  Being consistent and fair could help combat this negative working environment.  Moreover, being more clear not just about the vision and mission but how to effectively carry it out is essential.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 2 Data)

“Need to get away from providing certain staff with individual perks and openly neglect other staff who are contributing to OHA's vision and/or mission.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 2 Data)

“Our agency wastes too much resources on ineffective staff.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“Ensuring that projects and work assignments will actually be used… many of our beneficiaries have questions about what we actually do.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 4 Data)

“If there are aspects of favoritism, nepotism or hostilities taking place anywhere it should be addressed head-on and brought to an immediate end.  Abusive mechanisms wear heavily on the soul of organizations where equity and professionalism is called for.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 2 Data)

“Promoting the practice of having beneficiaries register and verify their Hawaiian ancestry with the Hawaiian Registry Program (HRP), and not have other departments doing their own ancestry verification which may not be up to HRP standards.”  (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 2 Data)

“There's a difference between being ‘talked down to’ and ‘being part of.’" (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 2 Data)

“Very few people here walk the walk.” (Ka Aka 2016 Goal 3 Data)

The Survey Reports and other documents may be read at the links below:

Spreadsheets with written comments:

Related: OHA to Silence Dissident Trustees?

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