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Give change a chance

Today’s guest blogger, Linda Misegadis, brings us some thoughtful insight on the concept of change.  Linda is a Public Sector Industry Consultant at Kronos and a  PROSCI Certified Change Manager.  As the former Director of Citywide Payroll and Administration Services at the City & County of Denver, Linda has first-hand experience on how the right kind of change can lead to powerful results. 

A couple of weeks ago our youngest son called us and told us that he needed to talk to his dad and me.  He is in his second year of college, majoring in business and our immediate thought was that he wanted to drop out of school.  While we had no real reason to suspect this, it is where our thoughts went.

For an entire week my husband and I speculated on what we thought he needed to tell us that he couldn’t just say over the phone.  We have always had a very open relationship with him, so we were a bit confused by this change.

Finally the long awaited day arrived when we were to find out what it was that he needed to talk to us about.  We arrived home and there he was; at the kitchen table (that he had cleared which he never does), with his laptop and a power point presentation (which he had never done before) and glasses of water for the three of us.  As you can imagine, this caught us a bit off guard.  After all, this is not how we have always done things in our home.  So, my husband and I sat down and braced ourselves for the news, prepared to talk through whatever it might be.  What transpired was our son thinking through what he wanted to discuss with us, what he  was hoping to achieve, putting a plan together and trying a new way of having that conversation.  He knew that if he did it the same way he always had that he might not get the answer he was hoping to receive.  He walked through his power point and asked us to hold our feedback until he had completed the entire presentation.  Because of this change or different approach his dad and I had an opportunity to change the way we communicate with him.

I share this story because my job is to help people in government, to change the way they do things.  I challenge them to look at things differently and realize that just because it has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that it is the right way.

It is easy to tell people that they should change, but change is very personal, even in our jobs.  It took our son changing the way he communicates with us to get a different response.  If he would have done what he has always done he would have got what he has always gotten.  If we would not have been open to the change, the conversation might have gone much different.

What I have learned in both my personal and business life, is that the only constant is change.  While it is not always easy to do, it is required for us to grow personally and professionally.  So I challenge each of you to look at each day with a fresh perspective and open your mind to doing things different.  Sometimes it will make things better, sometimes it might not change anything and sometimes it might not work, but you won’t know until you try.

The end of the story is that our son didn’t want to quit college, just change schools and majors.  He is an aspiring musician and producer and wants to go somewhere that can help him achieve his goals.  He will be moving to Arizona next Fall.  This will be another big change for his Dad and me, but we are ready to embrace this new path and he has our full support.

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What is a “muniversity”?

A recent blog from former Deputy Mayor of Bloomington, IN, Maria Katrien Heslin, produced some interesting terminology that I hadn’t quite heard before.

“Muniversity” –  This is a “place” municipal employees can go to learn more about the city they work for.

“Communicity” – An online community for municipal employees to learn more about city projects, etc…

Regardless of new or old terminology, the theme she encourages other municipalities to embrace is more communication and sharing with public employees so they are empowered to serve the community better.  Read the full blog at Governing.com.

Current status of Government Jobs: Good or Bad?

Current status of Government Jobs: Good or Bad?

It seems like positive and negative stories about the condition of personnel budgets in local government are everywhere.  Sure, they are better off than they were during the “Great Recession,” but is that something to really measure against?  And is it fair to compare to pre-recession levels when most economists and government leaders admit we won’t see those again for years to come?

Let’s look at a recent report from the National League of Cities to see if the answer lies there.  According to the City Fiscal Conditions of 2013, report 17% of cities are still implementing layoffs, which is down from 18% last year and 35% in 2010.  And 38% of cities are continuing with hiring freezes down from 45% last year and 74% in 2010. The positive side, layoffs and hiring freezes are down.  The negative side, layoffs and hiring freezes are still happening in over 17% of cities.  Is the glass half empty or half full?

Before we decide it’s all doom and gloom, here’s another stat to consider; college students participating in a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) cited Government as the top industry in which they wish to start their careers.   In my opinion that shows a great deal of integrity that our younger generation is displaying to put the nature of the work before the money in their wallet.  Maybe regardless of all the press, good and bad, public service is still the kind of job that makes Americans feel good, and there are no statistics that can change that.

I guess, in the end, the truth lies in the eye of the data holder.

Why the City of Houston can’t have their Kronos cloud go down…

houston-pd-swatt

The following was originally posted on Working Smarter Café October 7, 2013

“5,800 people with guns line up outside my office…”

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to hear from a Q&A panel of Workforce
Central in the Cloud
customers. They shared their cloud experiences, and
some funny stories. Don Pagel, the deputy director to the office of the mayor at
the City of Houston was one of the panelists. With a heavily unionized (and
armed) workforce on Kronos, today’s post headline was Mr. Pagel’s response to
the question, “What would happen if your system went down?” It was a joke, but
Don had some excellent advice for customers considering cloud, and for Kronos in
delivering the cloud experience. If you’re attending HRTech this week, and are interested
in hearing from a Kronos customer that really exercises their software, check
out Don’s conversation with Kronos CMO, Jim Kizielewicz, Tuesday,
Oct. 8, 2013 from 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

When the Feds Shut Down, Problems Roll Downhill to State Governments Big Time

On Monday thousands of state workers across the country left work at the end of their workdays uncertain about the future of their jobs.  While members of both political parties continued the mudslinging over the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, state run programs operating from federal funding sources suddenly found themselves in the middle of the heated battle.  As of a couple of days ago, most of our nation’s Governors were asking heads of state agencies to identify federally funded programs and positions that could be impacted, and the early news has been alarming.  In Connecticut, the Department of Social Services received $3.5 billion in federal reimbursements and more than $178 million in federal grant awards in 2013, according to state officials. These dollars are tied to between 600 and 6000 jobs in the state.  CT New Junkie.  The news in Iowa wasn’t much better where the hits were immediate.  Yesterday the Iowa Workforce Development Organization announced furloughs for 69 employees due to the federal government shutdown, and the Department of Public Defense will sideline another 111 workers.  Iowa Politics

As individual state agencies scramble to determine the precise moment when their federal funds will run out, most already know that state government budgets are in no shape to handle the shortfall.  So exactly which groups will be impacted most?  We know federal funding plays particularly big roles in state programs for agriculture, education, employment and human services to name a few.  This means many of those workers assisting grandmother in the nursing home may not be around much longer.  Nor will some of the educational enrichment workers supporting little Johnny.  Child welfare programs, including abuse/neglect investigations and case work will be heavily impacted too.

It’s a scary picture for sure, but there’s always a bright side, right?  Citizens of Minnesota were informed this week that in spite of 1,036 federal employees in military technician jobs being furloughed and notifications being prepared for another 274 state employees who work in other support positions,  troops remain ready for any job they’re needed. Major General Rick Nash, the state guard’s adjutant general told Minnesotans they should be rest assured the federal shutdown, “…will not impact our ability to respond to a manmade or a natural disaster.”  Capitol View  Whew General Nash.  I feel a lot better now.  Come on Capitol Hill.  Let’s get moving!