Transparency. It's pure and simple. Either you honestly and proactively let us know about your intentions, strategic plans, reorganizaion and restructuring, etc. or never say that you are being transparent. Transparency is the state or quality of being transparent
. What that should mean is that government leaders and officials should disclose their finances, strategic plans, etc. and stick to it. The goal should be to work towards that plan. If you hide things, like..hmmm.. say "extra funding / money" then it isnt really transparent, is it? And then, now that you have this money you are going to back track and try to rehire or recall jobs that were already lost or jobs that were told they were lost. Sounds rather suspicious from the bottom looking up.
My humble advice:
1. Let your true intentions be known. Do you know that it is harder to rebuild trust and credibility than it is to rebuild a team? You can easily get new players in these open positions but establising trust will be tough. Remember you cant easily fire us and an unhappy public sector worker is a liability. You must know that. We can make or break you .. but we choose to come to work, do our job despite the criticisms and make it work. Keeping us in the dark is never a good thing. We huddle together for ideas. We gather these ideas and spiral them out of control. We conspire, we fixate on the unknown and then the place suffer. You must know that? Transparency should be part of the game plan in the public sector. Public organization do not make money and we provide services to the community. You cant go anywhere else to get you drivers license or to get a court order to have someone stop harrassing you. Why not let everyone and everything be exposed so that the public knows our true intentions -- that of public service. If you hide things, we find out. When we find out, we get angry. Angry public servant is not good.
2. If you want to attract the best people then you must pay competitively. This is a sore spot for me. The general public thinks that we should get paid a meager salary because it is a public job. Ok, lets embrace that theory for a second or two. A meager salary should then only attract people who are not interested in top dollars but instead interested in maybe a pension and possibly job stability (once true, now a fallacy). Stanford and Cal graduates usually apply to public jobs because of pay but a City College or high school dipolma'd person would apply because all you need is a high school diploma and pass the civil service test. I know I know there are exceptions but for the most part most of the line jobs are filled with non-skilled workers, transitional workers or post-grads (usually not from top tier schools). Public Servants sacrifice pay in order to reap the benefits of a good pension and job stability. But... if you want top quality people, you need education. You need experience. You need risk takers, people with balls--big balls--who will challenge the status quo, work towards change and maybe make a difference. You think youll get that from a complacent city worker who moved up the ranks because of years of service ---and not necessarily the BEST/ Qualified candidate-- has no formal education or even a itty bitty sense of management theory or style? Dont think so... Ive seen it. I've lived it.
3. And with that.. I come to #3. If you are are to treat a public organization like a private organization then start holding people accountable and chop off their heads when they dont perform. You really cant adopt that model without really doing a SWOT Analysis, reorg, bring in Six Sigma specialists, Change Managers, etc., AND skilled---truly skilled---people to work here. Yup I am throwing the business trends out there but dont treat us like a private company while upholding different public sector standards. Sometimes, you really do have to look within to see if in-house is capable of mentoring someone into a higher position. Little do you know that there are many of us here with degrees, advanced degrees and experiences. Why arent we shining, you ask? Maybe because you already pre-judged us and placed us into your own mental category of "cannots" instead of "can-dos". Its sad really. I had an administrator once ask me, "Can you tell me who the shining stars are of this department?". I was floored. He asked as a newbie to the division and wanted to "mentor" or elevate someone. I was guessing that that was a stretegy to gain trust and acceptance. My answer: "Everyone is a star here with untapped potential". I know that that is a sappy answer but I honestly believe its true. I work with amazing skilled, degreed and non-degreed workers. Give them the opportunity and chance and they will shine. They become complacent only because they are quiet or focused on mastering their job and the problems around you.
When you do have the "best" people aligned, you have to remember my advice #1 --work towards transparency. In a private company if there are layoffs, I understand that middle managers have to go. In my organizaion, that is front line supervisors. I get it. What I dont get is how the whole Training Department is still intact?! How are people "saved" from their jobs when their job is not considered crucial to the operations of the organization. Like staff train newbies. Its been done in organizaiton around the world in both public and private. And, then you retain a DIRECTOR that gets paid top dollars? Oh ...but wait... this Director has been reclassified to accommodate the organization. So much for transparency....
Last humble words of advice #4: Never underestimae the power and knowledge of the workforce. I think that you underestimate the knowledge, resources and determination that we have to obtain the truth. When you lay off 100's of my colleagues, I have to re-evaluate my place in your organization. The organization has become despondent, sad, depressed. Its time for us to rethink and regroup. We cannot take this sitting down. The public and our leaders must know that we have a voice, we are strong and that we, and we alone, determine the success of this public agency.
One last thing use another damn "buzz" word. If you are going to decieve whether "unintentional" or not, then dont make promises and dont say you are "transparent". Its easier to absorb the blow of a kick in the balls when you see that foot heading your way. No one likes to be blindsided and then told a lie. Maybe you are emulating a private sector model?
You at the top may see your public agency / organization / division through rose colored glasses. How could you not? You are making a good six figures and have an outstanding package. You probably dont know what we do but decided that its not important. Your glasses are rosy. They shade you from the guilt ..well maybe not. Many of you at the top now have come from the "outside" so, yes indeed, you have no emotional ties and that is how you did it in the private sector. You cover your own up there and make poor decisions. We see it from down here and often times fix it, still making you look good. You continue to make decisions without consulting the true subject matter experts. Me, I am the perfect public servant. I shall remain at my desk, doing the job of 3 people while taking a hefty pay cut. I am the perfect public servant. I too wear rose colored glasses.. however my world view paints quite a differnt picture.