Friday, July 3, 2009

More tax increase ranting

Councilman Ivory Young has the following quote in Creative Loafing:
...Council members agree, the newly un-furloughed city workers are going to need to step up their game in order to meet heightened taxpayer expectations.

“There can be no excuses now for poor service delivery,” says Young. “From here on, it’s zero tolerance for mediocrity.”
See, I think it is unfair to simply expect city employees to "step up their game". Perhaps this is just poor phrasing by Scott Henry, but it likely is a result of a lack of imagination on behalf of many politicians and even residents. I'm referring to the idea that city (and government) services suck because the employees are stupid, lazy, or otherwise crappy. This might be true, and in many cases IS true, but that doesn't mean the answer is to simply expect more of them.

One of my professors told the following anecdote that I suspect is pretty commonplace in the HR world. He was referring to companies with poor employees, and he asked people to consider, "Did you hire them that way, or did you make them that way?" The general idea being that if you have bad employees, something is wrong with your hiring criteria or something is wrong with your operations. Either you are hiring people that don't really match what you need, or you have created a culture and environment that breeds poor habits, etc.

One takeaway I got from the anecdote is that managers have to take some responsibility in the performance of their employees - in some way, you helped put them in a position to fail. I'll guess that the city employees have a bit of both - it isn't like the city is hiring the cream of the crop (remember all those police officers with criminal records?), and I'll bet most of the city's departments are as infuriating to work for as they are to work with.

So we cut everyone's budget, raised taxes, and then are asking employees who we heretofore believe are lazy, incompetent, or otherwise "mediocre", as Councilman Young put it, to simply "step it up". Let me know how that works out.

Why don't we try and figure out WHY we have "mediocre" employees in the first place?

1 comment:

  1. Interesting point from the HR world. They say at 40, you have the face you deserve. I would guess many managers have the employees they deserve.

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