Good Morning:

In local government settings, some department heads are elected. Do you have experience in working with elected department heads / managers? Any suggestions when doing 1 on 1s with them?


Mark's picture
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Yes, I have that experience. I have had 3 municipalities as clients, all with positions that were elected in them at various levels.

Elected positions ARE tougher to handle, but essentially the same basics apply. I once had a city manager tell a sheriff who reported to him that he wanted to do one on ones, and the sheriff said, very professionally, no, I don't have to do that. Even though I report to you, because I'm elected, I work for the citizens, and I don't have to submit to the hierarchical stuff you do over there at City Hall.

So the City Manager slashed his budget significantly.

I wouldn't just walk in and tell them they must, but I'd make a case for it based on their needs.

I simply do not believe that the average manager (and most City Managers would be lucky to be average as people managers, in my opinion, sorry) can do a tolerable job without knowing what's going on in the departments that he's responsible for (in whatever fashion he's "responsible"), and the best communication tool there is for this knowledge is a routine weekly meeting.

Thanks for the question - a good one!


ctyadmin's picture

Thanks. I agree. I do a lot of informal communication, but it lacks consistency and follow up. By not taking notes I forget streams of thought and action.

I am on the verge of setting the 03s in motion, three weeks from now, as suggested. I have 16 department heads who report. I am planning on designating Wed and Thursday of each week for these 30 minute sessions. I am getting ready for the "now what?" department heads though. It seems like in local government the cynacism level is very high.

I need to take my knowledge level to a new level and hope this helps. So often I don't have a good understanding of issues coming up, or more importantly how they all interact to affect our organization as a whole.

Thanks for your excellent podcasts!!