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My Promise to the City Management Team

Posted on July 21, 2022


A statue reads "I heart NY" on a waterfront.

Today’s Morning Buzz is by Amie Hendrix, City Manager of Geneva, New York. Connect with Amie on LinkedIn or Twitter.

What I’m Reading: The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee

What I’m Watching: Friends – The One with the Race Car Bed

What I’m Listening to: The Struts – Could Have Been Me


Today marks the completion of my first month in my first City Manager role. It’s been an extremely exciting time and I have a great team that I get the honor to work with.

Throughout my career I have learned how important it is to be clear on your expectations, commitments, and priorities. In my first management team meeting I crafted the key points below to share with my team, after asking them to each list their expectations of their City Manager. The list incorporates the various lessons I have learned on my career journey. They are lessons from the fabulous and not so fabulous leaders I’ve had the pleasure to work with as well as my vision for how to move my new team forward. Please feel free to borrow, add to, and share your own lessons for inclusion in my future lists.

Two hands in the sun with interlocking pinkies.

To my new team, I promise the following:

  1. Your time is precious. I trust you to manage your own time. Leave requests are helpful for me to know when you are not available, they are not a tool for me to determine when you are coming and going.
  2. I am available. If you need to have a non-1:1 meeting or need to talk to me quickly on something you can feel free to pop-in to my office or ask  for a quick time during my current day. My calendar may be chaotic but I will find time. A quick message on an emergent issue is always better than me finding out from another source.
  3. Managers and I will have ongoing 1:1 meetings to check in with each other and on projects. Once a 1:1 meeting is scheduled I will do everything I am able to keep it on my calendar. With that being said, if you need to cancel a 1:1 once a month or reschedule you may do so. The 1:1 agenda topics I have in mind will be sent to you in advance of our meeting. If you have additions, you can add them at any time.
  4. You will know what the agenda is for our meetings. When I schedule a non-1:1 meeting with you, you will know what the meeting is about and what the plan is. My assistant will assist with scheduling, and you will hear from me either in person or in email about the meeting before it gets scheduled so you are prepared.
  5. You will get feedback from me when it is still fresh. There will be no guessing about what I am thinking. I do want to have performance conversations with all of our management team. This is another form of check in so you understand my expectations, how I feel you are performing, and I am able to understand how to help you succeed.
  6. The work you are taking on is done by you and in the way you want to do it. I am focused on the why and why not of our work, not the how. Once we know what path we are taking and why or why not we are moving ahead, you are in charge of the how. You can ask for suggestions or ideas but I do not want to do your work.
  7. Council provides us a vision of the community they see; it is up to us to work to achieve this vision. They are our architects and we are the builders. I will serve as a filter between departments and Council. In order for me to be successful in this role I need to know from you what you are sharing with council and what they are sharing with you. When you share something with one council member take the time to share it with all; I guarantee it will save all of us work in the long run.
  8. We serve the community. They are our customer and who we impact. I will look to you to continue to improve our services to truly serve every aspect of our community with no limitations based on what they look like, how they identify, who they are, or where they were born.
  9. I shine when you shine. Our team will be strongest when we are working together, looking after one another, taking care of each other, listening to one another, and taking care of ourselves. Please look for the opportunities to help your colleagues.  Please ask for help when needed. No one here should ever feel that they are working alone.
  10. There is no need for back-channel communications. If you have a question about a conversation or comment that you may have not been a part of, just ask. If you need something from me or heard about something that you want to know more about please go directly to the source to gather that information.
  11. I will attribute credit appropriately to you and your team. I will be certain to share the credit with those who are doing the work when talking with the community and council members. It is important to me that everyone knows how you have contributed to the success of our community.
  12. I expect that as leaders you will rise above the noise. There will be chatter about what we have or have not done properly. There will be people we satisfy and people we dis-satisfy. We serve the community and are given tax payer dollars to be servants to the community. It is important we rise above the noise to complete the job before us to the best of our ability. We can not get caught up in the chatter.
  13. We are all human and will make mistakes. There will be mistakes made and times that we fail. We need to acknowledge those mistakes, learn the lessons, and move ahead.
  14. The thing I need most from you is your truth. I need you to be candid with me. I want to hear your feedback. I want to know when you think I am right or wrong, and when you agree or disagree. We can only grow by making each other aware of what we each see and feel.
  15. I promise to welcome your thoughts, listen patiently, and respond not from a defensive space but instead a space which seeks to understand. I will ask you questions and listen to your solutions. I need your radical candor. Please push me and welcome me to push you.

Together we will accomplish great things. I need your honesty so that we can strive together to achieve more for our City.

 

A special thanks to Matthew Rech whose “11 Promises from a Manager” helped shape my message to my team.

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