Investing in Your Local Government Team

Local government leaders we meet with tend to focus intentionally on a few key priorities.  They:

  • Consistently reinforce the organization’s purpose and major goals
  • Measure and track performance and
  • Invest in each team member so they are positioned for success

This blog is about 4 ideas you can implement to invest in your team.

The most effective community leaders with whom we’ve worked understand that developing their team fosters loyalty, camaraderie and a commitment to greater service.  As Teddy Roosevelt said, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”  So, how do you invest in your team members in the midst of a busy local government?
You have your hands full just trying to move projects along while keeping both citizens and elected officials happy. While there are many ways to approach team development, I’d like to call out four behaviors that are relatively easy for you to adopt as part of your leadership model and that will have an immediate impact on your team.

Create a Safe Environment 

Employees are less likely to share their concerns and true feelings about the organization if they don’t feel safe to do so in the first place.  One city I have worked with regularly has informal lunches with key team members to grow their relationships and team trust.  Take opportunities to build rapport with your team, understand their strengths and weaknesses and connect relationally through team outings, lunches, etc.

Really Listen

One way to show someone you care is by listening.   Listening is more than just hearing what they say, but more so it’s about understanding what they mean.   One City Manager I have worked with always takes the extra step of asking, “what do you mean?” or “tell me more” about an issue that is brought up.  Giving others the chance to articulate and process their thoughts and feelings about challenges or opportunities is key to gaining trust and developing people.

Seek the Input of Others

I once conducted a vision, mission and values training session with a large County department that seldom got to provide their input on such “lofty” matters. These supervisors and foremen were elated that I even asked their opinion about the future direction of the organization.  The simple act of asking for their input was simple yet quite powerful.

Act on Input

If you ask for the team’s input on a matter it’s important to let them know how or why you incorporated (or didn’t incorporate) their input into your final decision.   Taking the time to share how you arrived at your decision and how you took parts of their input into account, will go a long way to gaining trust and incremental effort.

For more information on developing trust among team members, I recommend this “trust model” from Great Places to Work.

I’d love to hear your input on this important topic.  Feel free to share anything with me at bstark@innercomm.net.

If your City or County is seeking leadership development for your team or help in executing strategic goals, give us a shout.

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