5 Principles to Break the Cycle of the Urgent in Local Government

Breaking the cycle of the daily “urgent” in local government is hard to do.  We know there are longer-term important things to work on, but the urgencies of daily local government stare us in the face.

I know of a City that has a chronic customer satisfaction issue in a particular department.  The solution requires several departments to resolve, but everyone’s busy doing their own things – responding to the urgent items they face each day.

So, the chronic customer issue continues…

It’s always easier to keep your head down in your own department and worry about your own urgent issues than to stop (or divert resources) and spend time resolving long-term chronic issues.

Important things are things that can wait, but they have tremendous long-term impact.   Things like:

  • Seeking input from citizens so you can measure the quality of service delivery
  • Reviewing and modifying out-of-date, inefficient employee policies and processes
  • Cross training employees so they can grow and so service levels can be better maintained

These are all important things.

These things can positively effect your local government for the long-term…. but they require planning, time and focus to complete.  (see chart)

In order to reallocate time and focus on the important issues you need a few things have to happen:

  • TRUST: There has to be a certain level of trust between you and your Manager.  He or she must trust you enough to allow you to stop or delay some urgent things to spend time on the important.
  • BETTER UTILIZE TIME: You will need to get into the habit of blocking time on your calendar to work on important things.
  • DELEGATE: You may need to delegate some of your “urgent” issues while you take time to work on the important.
  • LEVERAGE THE TEAM: It’s likely that your important project requires input from others, so this can be a very powerful way to bring people together to solve a common concern.  Group input and cooperation can be the accountability that is needed.
  • MOTIVATE: Publicly displaying the progress of the important project helps keep the team stay motivated.

Working on long-term issues takes a certain courage.   It says “no” or “wait” to the urgent challenge staring you in the face now and says “yes” to the unseen problem that you know is lurking in the future.

If your local government team desires to grow in how you accomplish the BIG things or if you want to nurture the leadership skills of your team, let us know.  We’d love to come alongside your team and help you work on the important for your City or County.  Feel free to email us at bstark@innercomm.net.

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