Today’s Morning Buzz is by Kayla Barber-Perrotta, Budget & Performance Manager for the City of Brighton, CO. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
- What I’m Listening to: Bridgerton Soundtrack
- What I’m Reading: Bridgerton Series
- What I’m Watching: Season 1 of Bridgerton –notice a theme here?
- What I’m Doing: Alphabetizing my books
As I’ve spent the last week re-reading, re-watching, and just generally binging all things Bridgerton, I can’t help but be in the spirit of love. And being so wholly in that state of mind, I thought what better to write about than how I fell in love with my job…again. For anyone who has followed the Morning Buzz over the last year, you might remember that not so long ago, I wrote an article on “How I Almost Left Local Government.” It was a weighty admission of how the stresses of the pandemic and a less than positive work environment nearly drove me from the public sector and a testament to the power of mentors, friends, and colleagues to lift each other up even during the most challenging times. Today, however, I find myself a full 180 degrees from where I was last year, not just liking or tolerating my work but approaching it with a love and passion I have not felt in some time.
So what changed? In contemplating this shift, I keep returning to three factors that fundamentally changed over the last year: fun, professional development, and purpose.
Fun: I don’t know what your organizational experience with COVID was, but we struggled to keep the work environment fun and build positive connections between employees. Sure, we did virtual lunches and Secret Santa’s, but it just didn’t hold a candle to some of our greatest traditions. Here at the City of Brighton, we’re crazy about holidays—like potentially certifiable. One of our greatest traditions is Halloween when we host a cut-throat costume contest (people literally work on these for months) before celebrating our successes over a citywide potluck where we trick-or-treat across every floor. I am sure you can imagine why this wouldn’t pass any COVID distancing protocols.
But this past October, as social distancing restrictions lifted, we once again got to resurrect this most sacred celebration. We had an epic sharknado, a High School Musical/Grease/Breakfast Club group dance montage, and half-a-dozen Olympic golds amongst this year’s costume entries. It was an unabashed display of just plain fun and has set the tone for 2022, which has already included a citywide Mardi Gras celebration and wrapping our City Manager’s Office for his birthday/April Fool’s Day.
Professional Development: Professional Development is another one that fell by the wayside over the last two years. With most conferences either pushed to virtual or canceled, opportunities were limited. Add to this the reality that many of us were making cuts to keep our budgets afloat and it’s no wonder that professional development plans were gutted. A few months ago, I was so excited when I sat down with my team and started drafting their development plans for 2022.
One of my greatest joys in my career has always been helping my team grow and reach their fullest potential, so to discuss conferences and trainings that would help them excel in their positions and be able to lift our entire organization was a breath of fresh air. It also reinvigorated me to think about my own future and goals and start discussing them with my boss. I no longer feel stuck. Instead, I feel my organization is just as invested in my future as I am in it.
I no longer feel stuck. Instead, I feel my organization is just as invested in my future as I am in it.
Purpose: Finally, our leadership is using our emergence from COVID and the Great Resignation as an opportunity to strengthen our organization and rewrite our narrative as a choice local government employer. Culture and process improvement have become focus areas as we work to reconnect employees with why we do what we do, and my team has been lucky enough to help lead the charge. We’ll be launching the first cohort of our new Performance and Leadership Academy later this month, including courses on our organizational culture, building strong teams, process improvement, leadership, and strategic planning.
The goal is to help employees understand the purpose behind their work, recognize how they fit into the larger picture and long-term vision of the City, and empower them to help solve their pain points and provide exceptional service to customers.