SGR Part Deux: What Inspires You in the Workplace?

ELGL leaders – Bridget Doyle, John McCarter, and Ryan Adams – will be attending the SGR Conference from January 21-23. (Let’s hope they are treated more fairly than the Detroit Lions Dallas Cowboys.) Don’t forget, if you are in the Dallas area you are invited to attend Local Gov Local Grapes January 22nd in historic Downtown Grapevine! Mark your calendars and don’t forget to RSVP!

Local Grapes Local Gov Poster (1)

It’s official. Bridget’s flight is booked. Ryan’s speech is written. John has picked out his favorite 10 gallon hat. We are just one week away from the SGR Conference.

We know Wednesdays can be tough. So we though we would try to brighten your spirits by sharing the results form our SGR Conference survey completed by ELGL members last month. We hope these stories can inspire you to finish your day strong! Like the Beatles once said, “I get by with a little help from ELGL members.”

Survey Results

Word Cloud to End All Word Clouds

We took all of your ideas, experience, and thoughts from this survey and plugged them into a word cloud. This is what came out:

What Has Inspired You at Work?

Anytime I see the direct impact to citizens. For example, many citizens “tweet” at us but don’t expect a reply. I am inspired by answering citizen comments via social media. You immediately notice a change of tone from citizen’s when they realize someone is on the other end and they care. We relocated a “no parking” sign due to a citizen complaint via social media and she’s still raving about how responsive we are. The bar is set low for local government, don’t be afraid to jump over it.

The Mayor recently merged a couple of ideas we had been discussing separately. Apart we did not know if they would work, but by combining them it opened a whole new area of possibilities and made the task within reach. By seeing the potential and having a greater probability of success (rather than an uphill battle with low probability of accomplishment) it inspired me.

Can Innovation Be a Part of Every Employee’s Job?

Yes, by always being open to discussing new ideas. If you continually make people feel as though they are listened to, then they’ll have more of a vested interest in the end result.

InnovationYes! Of course! Empower them with technology tools to see if there’s a way to make repetitive jobs (e.g. administrative tasks, financial tasks) automated. Or, task employees with article review to see if they can find other best practices that your organization could replicate.

Employees can’t be ordered to think creative thoughts that result in innovative action. Organizational leaders can remove obvious spirit-crushers if they have enough awareness (including self-awareness) to recognize them.

Yes, but I think that “innovation” is too overwhelming and daunting a composition. I prefer continuous improvement. That can be innovative and more accepting of small victories with steps here and there. That also gives room for the big idea if it comes

The Horror Stories

During a visioning process, our supervisor failed to be a strong voice. You could tell by body language and speech and that immediately lost the workforce. I am believer of leading by example.

LeadershipRecently I was working on outsourcing the printing and mailing of our utility bills. It had taken the Utility Clerk three days to prepare the bills-printing folding and sorting, and a large group of volunteers hours to stuff the 1,800 bills. Throughout the process I had thought I brought in the Utility Clerk to be part of the process and thought she was onboard. In the end I realized that she was not on board and did not find out until the council meeting where she and the group of volunteers voiced their opinions against the idea. I learned that you have to have greater communication with everyone that is involved, including volunteers and the people in charge of the change need to be the one communicating, it cannot be delegated. You need to listen to their feedback and take it into consideration for them to get on board with the new idea and become inspired by all of the potential. Throughout the next year I thought of ways to address the concerns brought about by the volunteers. I also discussed the new ideas with the group of volunteers and listened to their ideas about it as well. Not all were on-board, however the city has outsourced the bills and the feedback we have been receiving from the citizens is outstanding.

Being told what to do. If an employee is always told what to do and doesn’t understand the reason behind it, then how are they to know if they can improve upon it? The mindset that “this is the way it has always been.”

Encouraging silos and trying to keep people in them. “Why do you need to know that?” “You have no business talking to them.” Etc. Thinking of employees as interchangeable parts or commodities, rather than making sincere attempts to recognize, value, and deploy their secret sauce. Not making invitation, high expectation, feedback, coaching, and mentoring part of everyday life.

Fear. Always fear. Fear of failure, fear of termination, fear of change. When we allow ourselves to fail or to deal with change, we can be really effective.

Name and Describe (at least) One Things Managers Should Do to Inspire Their Employees.

Listen and communicate. Give credit for other’s ideas and work.

TouchscreensTrust them. Give them technology tools. Talk to them. Let them talk freely to you about their challenges and successes.

Change at least one thing they do each day.

Meet with their staff and ask their opinion and go with a suggestion that was provided by staff.

Go first in extending trust to direct reports, sharing as much as possible (to the extent of taking some personal risk) about what’s important, what’s coming up, and how each person fits into that. If the manager doesn’t really give a damn about the employees, this shouldn’t be done. If he or she does give a damn, this does inspire employees and they’ll cut even inexperienced managers a ton of slack until they’re up to speed.

Connect on personal level often.

Make me feel valued.

Support them positively, provide aspirations for where the community and organization can be and wants to be. Encouraging employees to help get from here to there.

Thank you to all who participated in our survey! We are so lucky to have members who are willing to share their experiences with us and the rest of the organization. We are so looking forward to sharing your thoughts at the SGR Conference. As always, our organization is only as strong as our membership. Thank you.