Category Archives: municipality

Recruitment: When A Candidates Can’t Say “Yes”

Post by By Rick Dacri, Dacri & Associates, LLC; initially published in the July 2016 MTCMA newsletter

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Finding the perfect candidate to fill the critical position in your municipality is never easy. Search, interviewing, and reference checking can be draining to you and your staff or board. And once you find the “right” one, you’d like to believe your job is over, but it is not. Getting the candidate to say “yes” is the most important part of the entire recruitment process. Without a “yes” everything else you have done is simply practice.

When a candidate cannot say “yes” to your job offer, you have a problem. Be clear to candidates that they have no more than one week, 10 days at most, to render you an answer. Baring extenuating circumstances, without an affirmative, withdraw the offer and move on. Otherwise, you’ll be left dangling and the candidate will likely reject your offer. In my 30 years of executive recruitment, never have I seen a candidates take an extended time to contemplate an offer and eventually accept it—even during periods of tough negotiations. If they can’t (or won’t) make a decision about a job offer, how can you expect them to make a decision about other aspects of the job? Remember, they either never wanted the job or can’t make up their minds—not very good traits for a new employee.

The Board of a large public organization extended a generous job offer to a highly qualified CEO candidate. The candidate was both surprised and hesitant by the offer (red flags). After one week of negotiations, the candidate asked for additional time to think about it (another red flag). Over the next five weeks, the candidate sought multiple clarifications to the terms of the offer and a delayed starting date before the board ultimately pulled the plug. Even though the board’s executive recruiter recommended withdrawing the offer after 10 days, the board continued the process and was shocked that it came to his point.

What went wrong? Here are 12 tell tale signs that your job offer will likely be rejected:
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Filed under executive recruitment, municipalities, municipality, Recruitment, Uncategorized

A Manager’s Performance Appraisal: Prepare With Confidence

Feat1_Image(This article was written by Rick Dacri and published in the October issue of Public Management Journal)

Imagine you’re responsible for organizing the family vacation. It’s all planned, and everyone piles into the car ready to go. From the back seat, you hear: “I want to go to Disney.” “No, I want to go to the beach.” “No, we always do what you want, let’s go camping.”

Your partner gently leans over and says: “I want to go for a romantic vacation, without the kids, and by the way, we should fly, not drive.” And now, if things couldn’t be worse, you know they will all judge you, and the quality of their vacation will be based on your decision.

Crazy? Is this scenario all that unrealistic? In fact, for many, this resembles the life of a local government manager. As one city administrator defined it, “multiple conflicting priorities,” topped off with a performance appraisal.

POWERFUL TOOL WITH BENEFITS

As a manager, your job is to carry out the wishes of the governing board. But if you cannot find agreement on where you are going, who is driving, and who is in charge, you are on the road to dysfunctional government and a strained relationship with elected officials.

An evaluation of the manager—a process hated by most and ignored by others—should be an opportunity to both develop a manager’s knowledge and move a community forward.

If we are able to step back from the report-card aspect of most appraisal processes and realize that a performance appraisal is simply a tool used by elected officials to ensure that community goals are being met, then one can appreciate the power of this tool.

So why doesn’t that happen? Continue reading

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Filed under city manager, coaching, Employee Relations, government, human resources, ICMA, municipality, performance, performance appraisal, performance management, town manager

The Critical Relationship Between the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen

UnknownPost was written by Rick Dacri and was published in the New Hampshire Town and City, May/June, 2015

The job of the town manager or an elected official is not easy. But, when things are operating well, people are working cohesively, residents are happy, and results are being achieved, then it’s good to be in local government.

Results begin when three elements are in place: a positive working relationship between the board and the manager, a shared mission about what the town wants to accomplish, and a commitment to move forward together. The relationship ensures that a collegial rapport occurs based on trust and shared values. The mission guides the town’s allocation of limited resources: money, talent and time. And commitment pulls everything together. Absent any of those components, everything collapses like a two-legged stool.

That collapse often occurs when priorities become unclear, the manager becomes unsure where the board is headed, or individuals are moving in different directions. Therefore, a comprehensive or strategic plan is necessary to provide focus to both the board and manager. The key is to get the manager and the board members on the same page.

So how do you forge an effective relationship while meeting the town’s mission?

Set clear expectations and accountability standards: After all, if you want the manager to drive the organization where you want, develop a map. Be clear, specific and direct.
Understand your manager’s needs and expectations: Boards need to take time to get to know what makes their manager tick. Know the individual’s personal and professional goals, objectives and stressors and what can you do to help alleviate them.
Provide a timely performance review and know the market for executive compensation: Late reviews and salaries that fall below their peers are two areas that cause the greatest resentment, resulting in breakdowns in the relations and turnover. In a market with a shortage of good municipal management talent, this can be a catastrophe.
Set realistic performance goals: the strategic direction of the town will only be achieved when this is done well. The genesis of all goals should be the town’s strategic plan.
Provide ongoing feedback on performance: It’s lonely at the top. The manager needs input from the board. An ongoing dialogue is essential.
Support the manager’s development: Grow your manager. The world is constantly changing and your manager must be able to keep up. A stagnant manager with last year’s ideas is not going to move your organization forward.

There is a fundamental, almost systemic tension between the roles of the board of selectmen and the town manager. Who is in charge? Absent clear guidelines and a process to address roles, responsibilities, and strategic direction, conflict arises. Struggles for power and control emerge. As with any conflict, the solution is to get people talking and listening. Regardless, embracing the collective belief in the mission of your town is a powerful magnet to draw people together, allowing them to rise above ideology and personal agendas for the collective good of the town. A strong commitment to this belief and a passion to make it work allows most to make the relationship piece work. It happens everyday in well run communities.

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Filed under ICMA, Leadership, MTCMA, municipality

Municipalities: Top 10 Tips To Ensure the Board & Manager Maintain a Strong & Effective Working Relationship

UnknownPost by Rick Dacri. Originally published in the City & Town Magazine of the New Hampshire Municipal Association, May/June 2015

  1. Establish a clear, mutually agreed upon mission for the town and define values from which to operate. Take the time to discuss vision, strategy and policy. If your focus is simply surviving today, you’ll likely stagnate. Effective boards understand the importance of strategic planning as a means to steer the organization.
  2. Identify clear, annual goals and needs along with a time frame to complete. Develop a vision for your community. Dream big and move forward, one step at a time.
  3. Establishment a clear division of responsibilities and accountabilities for the board and manager. Be specific about boundaries and control. Governance must be clearly delineated and understood. You can only have one town manager at a time.
  4. Establish a forum for ongoing open communications and planning. Build open discussions into your calendar. Set up formal times to meet, both formally and informally with the manager to maintain focus and to nurture the relationship.
  5. Establish methods to resolve conflict in a respectful, open and honest manner. Conflict will occur. Set up a process to address it, and, if that doesn’t work, bring in outside professional help.
  6. Establish priorities with the understanding that they must be reviewed on an ongoing basis since the town’s challenges are ever changing. We live in a rapidly evolving environment. The board and manager must be nimble. The strategic planning process helps to anticipate the expected challenges, threats and opportunities before they emerge, but external and internal changes can occur that will change the picture.
  7. Develop methods to establish trust and support, where everyone adheres to the plan and each of you “has each other’s back.” Trust is a critical element in any healthy relationship. Without it, things fail. Work to continuously build trust and get help when repair is required.
  8. Develop and implement an effective annual performance evaluation system that is an ongoing process. There should be no surprises in annual evaluation if communication has been healthy, ongoing and honest. No business relationship can occur without clear accountability standards. A performance evaluation can be an excellent tool for this. Establish a formal process. Provide each board member an opportunity to contribute. Focus on the future and avoid creating a “report card” system. And encourage informal feedback throughout the year.
  9. Develop a process to bring newly elected board members up-to-date on what has been established and agreed upon amongst the current board and manager. Board orientations bring new members up to speed quickly, allowing them to make an immediate contribution.
  10. Create a board of selectmen self-assessment. This is a tool designed to help clarify roles and responsibilities, assess board performance, seek ways to improve and plan for the future. Outside professionals are often engaged to help boards develop such a mechanism.

Other Posts You Might Like:

  1. How to do Quality Manager Evaluations
  2. Recruitment: Landing Your Next Manager
  3. Succession Planning in Municipalities Assure Steady Flow of Talent

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Filed under ICMA, Leadership, municipality

Recruitment: How To Find Great Talent (Radio Interview)

ImageThe economy is growing and employers are once again recruiting. In a fast paced 60 minute radio, I discuss the current state of talent today, the reasons why it is getting so difficult to find great quality talent and how organizations from public utilities, municipalities and more can insure that they build their recruiting brand to maximize their recruiting efforts. Listen to David Ciullo interview me on WLOB’s HR Power Hour. To listen, click HR Power Hour.

Other posts you might like:

  1. Recruitment: Finding Perfect Candidates
  2. Recruitment: Why Job Searches Fail, 6 Steps that Guarantee Success
  3. Recruitment: The Five Pillars of a Strong Recruitment Brand

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Filed under executive recruitment, municipality

Managing Your Career: 9 Musts For Continuous Success

MTCMAThis article, written by Rick Dacri was originally published in the Maine Town City and County Management Association March newsletter 

Manage your career. That’s the advice I received long ago and the advice I give to anyone who will listen. Manage your career or someone will manage it for you and you probably won’t like his or her plan.

Jake wowed me. As an executive recruiter with years of experience, I’m not easily impressed. But everything pointed to him as the one. He did everything right to get himself hired.

I was engaged to recruit a new Town Manager. When I search for executive level individuals, my success in finding candidates comes from networking. And that’s how I found Jake. Yes, I placed ads, but individuals looking for a job never see them and passive candidates are often the best.

So let me tell you about Jake, how he positioned himself as the perfect candidate, and what you can learn about managing your career from him.

To begin, Jake never applied for the job. He didn’t know the position was open and frankly, I didn’t even know Jake existed. But others did. As I networked, individual after individual recommended I contact him. He was considered a rising star among town managers. I knew I had to meet him. And, when I finally found him, I had to convince him to apply and sell him on the job.

It gets better and from the perspective of the recruiter who only wants to present solid candidates to the client, Jake continued to do everything right. When I Googled his name, there were countless articles about him and the work he had done. He had his degree and had done more. He continued his education, was involved in the community, and actively participated in MMA and ICMA, which included leadership roles. But most importantly, he was a high performer everywhere he served.

So what can you learn from Jake that you can apply to your career? Here are 9 musts to ensure a successful career:

  1. Develop credentials: Embrace continuous education. Speak before professional groups. Take positions, write op-eds, and never simply regurgitate the same old stuff and espouse the latest fads. Be an object of interest and command a presence.
  2. Produce results: Have a long track record of results. Have a history of providing value to your communities and have a strong reputation within the industry. Your reputation must be sterling.
  3. Sets the standard: Don’t just fix things. Help your city or town move forward. Provide different perspectives and innovative thinking. Always be formulating new ideas and concepts. Set new standards. Help to grow your community, not just by doing the things you are doing better, but by providing a broader perspective.
  4. Command attention: Dress, speak and present yourself well. Command attention, exuding well-earned confidence. And it goes beyond personal appearance. Be impactful.
  5. Be responsive: Show up early and leave late. Return phone calls and emails within hours, not days. Deliver what you promise.
  6. Be passionate: Believe in what you do and most importantly get excited about helping your community.
  7. Formulate strong relations: Work with your councils, staff, business leaders and residents. Be approachable, listen and respectful. Value differences of opinions, and having a sense of humor is a good thing.
  8. Develop stature and firepower: Become an expert. Do your homework. Invest in yourself. Fine-tune your skills. Get a professional coach to guide you.
  9. Mentor others: Enhance your career by growing your staff. Develop bench strength. Create a culture of learning.

Effectively managing your career means continuous success for you, your staff and your community. Manage your career.

Rick Dacri is a workforce expert, management consultant, and author of the book “Uncomplicating Management: Focus On Your Stars & Your Company Will Soar.” Since 1995 his firm, Dacri & Associates has helped municipalities achieve dramatic improvements in individual and organizational performance. He can be reached at rick@dacri.com and http://www.dacri.com

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Filed under Carrer, coaching, executive recruitment, ICMA, MTCMA, municipality, networking