Two "people areas" of Local Government that cause leader pain

LeaderGov conducted an informal poll of local government leaders on LinkedIN and asked them which of these four areas created the most pain for them: 

  1. People issues slowing progress
  2. People issues clogging HR
  3. Unresolved people issues
  4. People not succession-ready

By far, the two biggest pain topics were: 

  • People issues slowing progress (38% )  and 
  • Lack of succession ready people (38%)

The Pain Associated with People Slowing Progress

We all know that tension on teams, past challenges and poor attitudes or past lack of follow-through can damage progress as teams work together.   As a leader however, it’s your job to address people and process issues that get in the way of results.  Failure to do so, typically makes matters worse, not better.   In fact, not addressing people issues erodes your respect and often emboldens others to become less responsible in their work, since they know you are not likely to address substandard work. 

When you do address people issues on your team, we recommend you consider the following steps. 

  1. Gather the Facts:  Pause and be sure you know all the facts, or as many as you can, prior to engaging the person. 
  2. The Hard Conversation: Meet privately to share how the person’s actions or attitude is negatively affecting progress.   By the way, studies have shown that giving positive feedback first, then negative feedback, then positive feedback doesn’t work or help.  Be sure to ask them what is causing this issue and what ideas they have to change things. 
  3. Document: If needed, make a note of the conversation and/or update any City / County discipline forms.
  4. Re-Connect: Meet a few days or weeks later to provide an update on their behavior since your initial conversation. Be sure to ask how they think they are progressing.
  5. Reassure:  Let the person know that you believe they can improve and that you want to support them to become better in their role.   They need to know you have their back.
  6. If matters stay the same or get worse:  If matters do not improve, you will need to take action again with another in-person meeting to provide more feedback or perhaps implement a more formal PIP process.

The Pain Associated with a Lack of Succession Planning 

Effective leaders spend time with “up-and-coming” employees to help them prepare for next level roles in the local government or department. It is incumbent upon leaders to: 

  • Know what skills are needed for each role that has succession needs
  • Know what skills succession candidates are lacking 
  • Make accommodations and resources available for them to gain the skills needed
  • Measure and track their development progress

This effort at equipping future leaders for succession readiness takes time and effort.  You may want to engage the Human Resources Department and each department head in following the steps outlined above so that you begin to minimize the pain of not being succession ready. 

LeaderGov offers a multi-workshop program to assist with succession planning that covers an outline similar to what is referenced above. If you would like to talk further with LeaderGov email us at [email protected].


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