How to Succeed, Stay Sane, and Have Fun at Work

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From Brad Schnell:

I recently attended the Washington Finance Officer Association annual conference in Bellevue, Washington.  This well organized event included great sessions for Local Public Officials.  One session that I attended was “How to Succeed, Stay Sane and Have Fun at Work”, by keynote speaker David Rabiner, owner of Rabiner Resources.   He is an excellent public speaker that combines just the right mix of humor and storytelling to keep his audience interested in his subject.  

His presentation brought to the forefront awareness and information on personality types in the work place, and as a manager of people, advice on how to work positivity and effectively with different styles.  It was a great reminder about how we all have different personalities and different ways we tackle problems and lead teams.   David took the concept of the Myers Briggs HumanMetrics testing and modified it to simplify and organize personality’s types; so employees, managers, and day-to-day people can understand and achieve a successful working relationship.   

In his session, David gave us a simple questionnaire in order to determine our type through a formula he has developed.  The questions ask about your attitude or reaction to handling conflict, relationships, workload and stress.   Then we completed a four square matrix and our personality type surfaced.  I turned up in Box 1 – no surprise to me.  Following are the 4 types of personalities: 

Box 1 
The good traits: Peacemaker, good listener, involves others, cooperative, and likes routine.  
The not so good traits: Avoids conflict, doesn’t speak up, can’t act alone, can’t say no, and resists change.

Box 2
The good traits:
 Entertainer, creative, energetic, persuasive, and fun.    
The not so good traits: Impulsive, lacks follow-thru, dislikes routine, poor listener, and easily bored.

Box 3
The good traits:
Scholar, detail-oriented, organized, accurate, and dependable.
The not so good traits: Indecisive, nit-picky, inflexible, and critical.

Box 4
The good traits:
Achiever, decisive, productive, focused, and competitive. 
The not so good traits: Steamroller, bossy, impatient, unfriendly, and aggressive.

You will probably guess which personality you are without answering the questionnaire (or maybe not).  I think being a Box 1 serves me well in my career in sales.  Being a good listener and cooperative are my biggest strengths, especially in solution selling.  I have to be able to understand the needs of my clients in order to define a solution and show them the benefits of that solution. 

Box 2 people are fun and creative in the office.  You know, the one who always has the good joke, with a great personality who is also good in sales.   Box 3 people require research and backup for every decision they make.  This is the personality type of accountants and software implementers – I work with lots of those too!  And, finally Box 4 people get things done.  You want one of these guys on your team when you have deadlines that can’t be missed.  They may step on a few toes in the process, but you can count on them to get that all important project done and on time.  The well-rounded individual has a little bit of all of these traits. 

Good leadership is understanding how your team works, and how they can best work together.  Being respectful and understanding when to encourage a certainly personality to complete a task or redirect them so they are leveraging their strengths is all important in the office culture.  When setting employee motivational goals, it is important to set those goals based on the personality type and work style of each individual employee.  For example, as a supervisor, if you’re a Box 3 and directing a Box 2,  you need to understand what motivates them so you can interpret their reactions and behaviors.  This is a good argument for managers to “think outside the box” when it comes to supervising others.

As an organization, setting goals and attaining them requires a team that is diverse and active in their individual strengths and skills.  Effective leadership will nurture and support these talented people in a fun and productive way.  To learn more from David Rabiner and view his presentations, visit his web site at www.rabiner.com

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Case Study: Local Government and RSS

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From Tim Kiely:

The City of Tybee Island, Georgia is one municipality that has embraced the use of social media to interact and communicate with it’s citizens.  The City has added a section to it’s website devoted to introducing the concept of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) to citizens and providing them with instructions on how to subscribe to receive City information and news using RSS feeds.  The web page even has an embedded YouTube Video entitled “RSS in Plain English” that provides visitors with further information on the value and use of RSS feeds.  CHECK IT OUT.

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Local Governments and Social Media

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From Tim Kiely:

The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) website currently features articles written by actual city officials on the subject of Local Governments and their use of Social Media to communicate with citizens.

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The Green Initiative – Saving Money While Saving the Planet

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From Bobbi Wurth-Wernle:

“The Green Initiative” is a huge buzz phrase these days.  It’s all about cutting waste, recycling, and rethinking the way we use and discard many of the objects we use every day.  On an individual basis, millions of people around the world are actively “going green” in their day-to-day lives.  But, the “Green Initiative” can and should be applied to office environments as well.  Not only could your organization play a role in saving the planet, but it could also realize an incredible savings in the process.  Here are some interesting facts and tips on going green in your office:

BE BRIGHT ABOUT LIGHTS:

  • Light usage accounts for over 44% of the typical electric bill.
  • Turn off lights if you are going to leave a room for 15 minutes or more.
  • Use natural light whenever possible.

MAXIMIZE COMPUTER EFFICIENCY:

  • Over $1 billion is spent every year on energy that is never used.
  • Turn off your computer and the powerstrip it is plugged into at the end of each day.  

PRINT SMARTER:

  • The average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper per year.
  • If you don’t absolutely have to print it, then don’t.  Aim for a Paperless office.
  • If you have to print, print on both sides of the paper, print in draft mode, and avoid color printing when possible.

RAMP UP RECYCLING:

  • Start a recycling program for paper, plastics, and cans/bottles in your office.
  • If you have a recycling program, strongly encourage employees to participate.
  • Make it a policy to purchase office equipment and supplies made from recycled materials.

 WATCH WHAT YOU EAT AND HOW YOU EAT IT:

  • Buy organic foods whenever possible.
  • Bring you own dishes to the office for the meals that you eat.

RETHINK YOUR TRAVEL:

  • When travelling on business, consider a train, bus, or subway versus renting a car.
  • If you have to rent a car, consider a hybrid.
  • Try car pooling, public transit, or even a bike when travelling into the office.
  • Arrange to telecommute from home rather than travelling into the office whener possible.

TURN YOUR OFFICE GREEN:

  • Use plants that absorb indoor air pollution.
  • Have the office cleaned with non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Make sure furniture, paint, and carpeting is free of VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

For more information on ways you can “Go Green,” we invite you to visit the Sierra Club website.

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State Revenues Decline. What About Local Governments?

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From Kim Schaefer, CPA:

I read a report in the September 30 issue of the Wall Street Journal which detailed how states are currently experiencing revenue declines not seen since the 1960’s.  The article, Falling Tax Revenues Slam States, spoke about a 17% decline in tax revenues hurling states deeper into an economic crisis despite the stimulus funds and signs of economic recovery on the horizon.  The wsj.com article went on to talk about budget cuts, state government shutdowns like we saw in California if budget deals can’t be made, and staffing reductions.  A pretty dire situation. 

This prompted me to start thinking about the states, local government, agencies, and education.  How bad is it and where is it the worst?  So I started doing some digging. 

Just to emphasize how bad it is for the states, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the result of the revenue decline is a combined $350 billion projected budget deficit over the next two years. On businessweek.com in their article entitled States in Worst Budget Trouble, they list each of the 37 states with deficits in their FY 2009 budgets as of 12/07/2008.  That is pretty interesting. 

I also found a good paper, Schools in Crisis:  Making Ends Meet, on K-12 education written by Marguerite Roza, a senior scholar at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, and a research associate professor at the University of Washington College of Education.  I have read on the CBPP site that the recovery law is giving states $140 billion over the next two years for Medicaid and education, but I have not seen the breakdown.  Cutbacks in staffing of the magnitude predicted here are surely to impact the quality of the public education system and how would the longer days and longer school year being discussed currently be funded?  Ms. Roza also brings up the point about the impact of reductions in local funding on education budgets which she has not included in her analysis. 

 I have two primary questions to pose to our Blog readers about how this relates to local government:

  1. How are local governments handling their own budget shortfalls?  What best practices in cost management do you employ?
  2. Are the issues faced at the state level impacting cities, counties, towns, etc. and if so, how?

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