In this series, guest columnists choose to reflect on one of three prompts provided by ELGL Co-Founder Kent Wyatt. This week, Dalton Rice, Management Analyst for City of Mont Belvieu, Texas, breaks down the ‘duties as assigned’ of a management analyst.
You may be asking what a Management Analyst does or ideate some expectations of what the position entails? And the winner is…yes, all the above. Management analysts, or management consultants, are found in private and public sectors and are often specialized in their respective departments such as public works, finance, information technology, or the city manager’s office. A comparable role to a management analyst in the city manager’s office is the assistant to the city manager. Despite their similarity, management analysts may be experienced professionals with traditional or non-traditional backgrounds.
The phrase “duties as assigned” is one of many mottos a management analyst lives by but is just a fancy way to describe opportunity and experience. Like any position being successful requires individuals to reach beyond the technical skills and into the intangible attributes and values that define who we are. From my perspective, these are the top five characteristics to succeed as a management analyst in the city manager’s office.
Although autonomy is not a trait in and of itself, the combination of attributes necessary to successfully be autonomous requires sound judgment, a strong work ethic, and integrity. Working independently within a broad set of boundaries does not imply a lack of teamwork. On the contrary, it requires greater initiative to seek out teams, build relationships, and effectively use resources to accomplish the organization vision and objectives. From a leadership perspective, it is similar to an atom’s electron particle: it can freely travel between departments and provides stability through collaboration, diplomacy, and influence.
The epitome of highly effective leadership is the ability to collaborate across a diverse spectrum of teams and people. Fostering and maintaining relationships is paramount to successfully align departmental goals with that of the city council and city manager. The autonomy to bridge the communication gap between departments and align initiatives brings clarity to the big picture and defines the path to organizational excellence.
Government entities rely on more than internal communications. The strategic disparities between residents, appointed and elected officials at the local, state, and federal level requires the balancing of information and goals to work towards a “win-win” while maintaining neutrality. Empowering individual and team experiences help to establish resilient relationship foundations that can be built upon for the betterment of our communities and regions.
The authority of an analyst is limited; however, the invaluable opportunity to lead through “influence without authority” sharpens an individual’s emotional intelligence and guide their personal and professional development. Continually seeking ways to support and empower directors and teams to improve processes and work towards a high-quality culture of excellence is the framework necessary as communities innovate and grow.
“Bring control and stability to chaos” would be another motto. With only 1440 minutes in a day, how do you spend your time? As a management analyst, the most fulfilling part of the job is every new day brings new challenges and chaos that must be managed professionally and effectively. There is no room for panic. Collaborating and supporting city departments requires efficient multitasking. This is not by taking on ten tasks at once but by prioritizing, using appropriate resources, shifting effectively through action items, organization, resilience, and grit.
The role of a management analyst, or assistant to the city manager, is a rewarding and fulfilling opportunity for aspiring city management leaders. It offers hands-on experience in city management functions, influence, leadership, and the ability to dive into the proverbial rabbit hole in pursuit of inspiration and learning. As the need for public administration professionals continues to grow, so will the need for innovation in candidate recruiting and talent manager’s adeptness to identify and hire for potential. This position, in conjunction with non-traditional leadership and professional experience, further diversifies individuals’ backgrounds making them among the best candidates seeking careers in local government management.