IaCMA Newsletter

Iowa City / County Management Association


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IaCMA Regions in the News.

This just in, the NW Region is planning to meet for lunch and networking on Thursday, August 19, from 11:30am-1pm in Spirit Lake. The group will be meeting at Pub 19, which is located at Okoboji View Golf Course on Highway 86 (west side of west lake). Please RSVP to Scott Wynja if you are interested in attending.

Scott Wynja

Sioux Center

(712)722-0761

scottw@siouxcenter.org

Steve Diers reports the NIMROD group is planning an axe throwing party for their quarterly networking. He states, “Just wanted to “throw” out an invite to anyone interested in attending our quarterly NIMRODS meeting this Friday, August 13.  We will be meeting to have lunch at the Algona Axe House. Home | Algona Axe House.”

After lunch, the group will be throwing axes, so Steve recommends bringing a favorite local CAVE person’s picture for targeting purposes if desired.  😊  The Axe House is opening specifically for the NIMROD group so it should be a small yet concentrated guest list.

If you plan on attending please contact Steve Diers or Barb Smith – Algona (bsmith@ci.algona.ia.us), by Thursday, August 12.

Steve Diers

Charles City

641-257-6300

Steven.diers@cityofcharlescity.org


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IaCMA Recognizes 2020 & 2021 Emerging Leader Award Winners during Summer Conference

Excerpted from award nominations

The 2020 Emerging Leader award was presented to Dylan Mulfinger during the online IaCMA reception in September 2020. Dylan has been a tremendous leader, and advocate, for the City of Oelwein over the past four years. Dylan has worked tirelessly to streamline the organizational structure within the city. This includes tackling personnel roles and assignments, developing a formalized Capital Improvement Plan, and coordinated efforts for economic development. In 2018, Dylan took on one of the biggest challenges for the community in decades. He helped the City Council adopt a Rental Housing Code.

Prior to becoming the City Administrator in Oelwein, Dylan was the Management Analyst for the City of Oskaloosa from 2013-2016. One of his highest accomplishments in Oskaloosa was that he undertook creating and leading the City’s first Young Professional Group. Dylan was instrumental in seeking out potential young professionals and establishing meaningful connections that were not otherwise happening in the community. The bond resulted in a close-knit group of people with commonalities performing volunteer service work, socialization, and fellowship. Dylan’s work was instrumental to the group’s success.

Dylan’s positivity is contagious and is immediately noticed by those who interact with him. He’s friendly, jovial and a likeable person. He brings humor and positive energy to the job. He is a caring individual that likes to make personal connections with people he is working with or working for. He understands that life in city management is like living in a fishbowl, stays above board at all times, and it is easy to see he enjoys serving the public by the way he carries himself.

The 2021 Emerging Leader award was presented to Cori Burbach during the Summer Conference in Burlington.

Cori has dedicated her career to public service and has demonstrated a tireless commitment throughout, but especially over the last year. Her role within the city usually requires long hours, evening meetings, weekend calls, and the occasional emergency issue response. However, as it has for many people, the pandemic’s impact over the last year has required Cori to take on additional responsibilities and to focus on crisis management.

Cori’s nomination for this award stressed that she is deserving of the Emerging Leader award not just because of the degree to which she stepped up during the pandemic, but because she has taken on more and more responsibilities over the last four years within the city and has led Dubuque’s High-Performance Government initiative within the organization to improve processes and increase efficiencies through teams representing all departments and levels.

With all this, Cori still finds time for volunteering in leadership roles with the Dubuque Community Garden Coalition and the Dubuque Community Days of Caring. She has also served on the board of directors for Creative Adventure Lab and for DuRide, where she volunteers as a driver to provide transportation for seniors in the community.

Please join in congratulating the IaCMA 2020 Emerging Leader award winner, Dylan Mulfinger and the 2021 Emerging Leader award winner, Cori Burbach.

The IaCMA’s Emerging Leader Award is presented to a local government and the chief administrator or assistant chief administrator in recognition of his/her innovate and successful programs.

In 2006, IaCMA’s Awards Evaluation Panel, with approval from the IaCMA Executive Board, developed the Emerging Leader Award category.  To be considered for the Emerging Leader Award, the local government’s chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.  Eligible candidates must be: 

  • First time in the position, and have 5 years or less experience as a chief administrator; or,
  • First time in the position, and have 7 years or less experience as an assistant chief administrator

For more information visit www.iacma.net

Emerging Leader past recipients

2008 Jason Metten- Hawarden

2009 Luke Nelson- Boone

2010 Doug Boldt- Tipton

2011 Josh Heggen- Windsor Heights

2012 Larry Burks- Onawa

2013 Matt McQuillen- Clive

2014 Chelsea Huisman- Center Point

2015 Laura Graham- Des Moines

2016 Amanda Kaufman- Marion

2017 Angie Charipar- Cedar Rapids

2018 Nick MacGregor – Burlington

2019 Kyle Michel – Van Meter

2020 Dylan Mulfinger – Oelwein

2021 Cori Burbach – Dubuque


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Nominations now open for the IaCMA 2021 Manager of the Year.

GENERAL INFORMATION
IaCMA’s Annual Manager of the Year Award honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and who’s creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.

REQUIREMENTS

  • To be considered for the Manager of the Year Award, the chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.
  • Candidate must be employed as the chief appointed administrative officer in a municipality.
  • Candidate must have overall management responsibility and be appointed or confirmed by the legislative body, the elected chief executive and/or the chief appointed administrative officer.

HOW TO MAKE A NOMINATION
Please include a brief, descriptive narrative.  Complete Sections 1 and 2 of the nomination cover sheet and staple it in front of the narrative.  The narrative should demonstrate how the chief administrator has made significant contributions to the governmental entity served as demonstrated by:

Contributions to the municipality that he/she serves

  • Enacted policies or practices that have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of their municipality
  • Leadership & Management Skills
  • Personal and Professional Development Activities
  • Professionalism & Integrity
  • Employee Development
  • Community and Civic Service
  • Public Stewardship
  • Self-Management

Contributions to ICMA/IaCMA

  • Serving as an officer, committee member or volunteer
  • Serving as a workshop presenter or meeting facilitator for training sessions
  • Serving as a mentor
  • Publishing articles
  • Developing survey, studies or reports
  • Achieving professional certifications or designations

RECOGNITION
The IaCMA Manager of the Year will be awarded during the IaCMA networking reception on September 16 in Coralville. The deadline for nomination is August 27, 2021. Nomination forms may be requested from Dylan Mulfinger or from the Iowa League of Cities.

Submitting Your Nomination
Applications of each descriptive narrative along with the nomination form shall be received at the close of business on August 27, 2021.
Attention: IaCMA Awards Committee
Iowa League of Cities
500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101
Des Moines, IA  50309-4111
OR
Nominations may be e-mailed to:  IaCMA’s Professional Awards Committee; Dylan Mulfinger.

The Association’s past award recipients include:
2009       Carol Ann Diekema- Monroe
2010       Jeff Mark- Altoona
2011       Bill Daily- Belle Plaine
2012       Tom Brownlow- Charles City
2013       Jim Ferneau- Burlington
2014       Elizabeth Hansen – Nevada
2015       Jessica Kinser – Clinton
2016       Jeff Pomeranz – Cedar Rapids
2017       Aaron Burnett – Keokuk
2018       Michael Schrock – Oskaloosa
2019       Matt Mardesen – Nevada
2020       Kim Downs – Hiawatha


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Iowa League of Cities – Golf Tourney

League Staff invite all city officials to participate in the League’s Annual Golf Tourney, which will be held Friday, June 11 at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny.

The outing is a fundraiser for the Tim Shields Endowment Fund, which supports education and leadership development for local elected and appointed officials. 

The tourney will begin at noon and feature a four-person team scramble (best shot) with various prizes awarded to teams and individuals. Lunch will be provided to each registrant. 

After missing out on last year due to the pandemic, it is hoped there is a strong turnout this year to support an important cause and give participants a chance to network and have some fun. 

Please contact League staff if you have any questions or need help registering a team or an individual.

Thanks for your continued support.

Iowa League of Cities | 500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101 | Des Moines IA  50309-4506
Main: (515) 244-7282 | Fax: (978) 367-9733 | http://www.iowaleague.org


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Nominations are now open for the IaCMA Summer Awards

The IaCMA Awards Committee is announcing nominations for the IaCMA Emerging Leader and the IaCMA Program of the Year awards.

The IaCMA’s Emerging Leader Award is presented to a local government and the chief administrator or assistant chief administrator in recognition of his/her innovate and successful programs.

In 2006, IaCMA’s Awards Evaluation Panel, with approval from the IaCMA Executive Board, developed the Emerging Leader Award category.  To be considered for the Emerging Leader Award, the local government’s chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member*.  Eligible candidates must be:

  • First time in the position, and have 5 years or less experience as a chief administrator; or,
  • First time in the position and have 7 years or less experience as an assistant chief administrator.

The Program of the Year Award is presented to a local government and its chief administrator in recognition of an innovative and successful program. 

In 2006, IaCMA’s Awards Evaluation Panel, with approval from the IaCMA Executive Board, developed the Program of the Year Award.  To be considered for the Program of the Year Award, the local government’s chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.  Local governments must limit their nominations to no more than two programs in a single category.  Each program nomination must be independent and cannot be a component of another program.  Eligible programs must be:

  • Administered under the authority of one or more governmental entities, with only limited outside assistance from experts/consultants
  • Currently be in operation and have been fully implemented within the last 3 years.
  • Must demonstrate tangible results

Applications are due May 26

Awards will be announced at the 2021 Summer Conference

Emerging Leader past recipients

2007 Elizbeth Hansen

2008 Jason Metten- Hawarden

2009 Luke Nelson- Boone

2010 Doug Boldt- Tipton

2011 Josh Heggen- Windsor Heights

2012 Larry Burks- Onawa

2013 Matt McQuillen- Clive

2014 Chelsea Huisman- Center Point

2015 Laura Graham- Des Moines

2016 Amanda Kaufman- Marion

2017 Angie Charipar- Cedar Rapids

2018 Nicholas MacGregor – Burlington

2019 Kyle Michel – Van Meter

2020 Dylan Mulfinger – Oelwein

Program of the Year past recipients

2008 Windsor Heights- Colby Park Playground

2009 Not awarded

2010 Windsor Heights- Takin it to the Streets

2011 Not awarded

2012 North Liberty- Paperless Packets

2013 Norwalk- City/School Partnership

2014 Newton’s Future Comprehensive Planning Process

2015 Newton- “Get to Know Newton” Community Outreach Project

2016 Not awarded

2017 Des Moines – Speak up DSM

2018 Elkhart – Source Water Protection Plan

2019 Bondurant – Ultra High-Pressure Program

2020 Mason City – River Renaissance


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North Iowa Managers Rationalizing Out Dumb Stuff – NIMRODS

Steve Diers, North Region Coordinator has announced the NIMROD 2021 meeting calendar.

Diers says meetings will be via Zoom but hopes to begin meeting in person in time for golfing. Diers is asking for volunteers to assist in hosting the quarterly events and encourages those interested in hosting or attending to contact him. Diers says the meetings are informative and relaxing and a great time to visit and network with colleagues.

Please contact Steve at steven.diers@cityofcharlescity.org for more information to attend or host.

2021/22 Meeting Schedule

  • May 14th – New Arena in Mason City – Noon (hosted by Aaron Burnett)
  • August 13th – Location TBD – Noon
  • November 12th – Location TBD – Noon
  • February 18th (2022)– Location TBD – Noon


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IMMI on for 2021!

After a year off, IaCMA and the Iowa League of Cities is pleased to announce the 2021 IMMI will be held March 17-19 in Iowa City. The professional development conference will again be at The Graduate hotel in downtown Iowa City and will offer a variety of educational and networking opportunities.

*The IaCMA Board recognizes the ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic and will require attendees this year to wear a face mask during sessions. Also, the mayor of Iowa City has issued an order that generally requires the wearing of face masks in public. 

Registration for the conference is $350 and online registration is available here: 2021 IMMI Online Registration.

Hotel Room Block

A room block has been set up at The Graduate, at a rate of $98/night. Reservations can be made by following this direct link: IMMI 2021 Room Block. You can also call (319) 337-4058 and reference ‘IMMI 2021’ to make your reservation. The room block expires February 26.

IMMI Stipends

Stipends are available to cover the full cost of registration to IMMI. For those interested, please send a brief request to me (mickeyshields@iowaleague.org) with your name, title, city, years in the profession and last time you attended IMMI (or note if you have never previously attended). Please submit requests by February 24. The IaCMA Executive Committee will then review requests and make decisions as soon as possible.

Potential Virtual Sessions

Mickey is exploring ways to work with the facility to offer the educational sessions virtually. More information will be shared when available. 

Please let us know if you have any questions. Thanks! 

Mickey Shields
Director of Membership Services
Iowa League of Cities
Direct: (515) 974-5316

Iowa League of Cities | 500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101 | Des Moines IA  50309-4506
Main: (515) 244-7282 | Fax: (978) 367-9733 | http://www.iowaleague.org


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Career Compass No. 87: Do Something!

In this issue of Career Compass, Dr. Benest offers encouragement to get started, despite the obstacles.

I’m the city’s community development director and I report to the city manager. My mid-sized city has a homelessness challenge that is growing. Exacerbating the problem, we are being sued because the city and state highway department took down a make-shift encampment of tents and cardboard shelters under a state highway overpass in the city.

As a response to the homelessness crisis, homeless advocates, with the support of faith-based groups, are urging the city council to fund and build a village of tiny homes under the overpass where the encampment was located.  A few city councilmembers are supportive and others on the council are noncommittal.  In response to the advocates, the city council did authorize a council subcommittee to explore appropriate city action.

The city manager is being very cautious. She worries that the tiny homes village is too big an investment; it’s an imperfect solution; it won’t solve the crisis; and therefore, the proposal is too risky. The city manager is also concerned about the city operating and maintaining the village if it is constructed.

I am energized about the possibility of ameliorating the homeless problem. We do have some potential resources. The city has collected a fair amount of affordable housing monies from developer fees and the state does own the land under the highway overpass. The city also owns some vacant lots. However, I am hesitant because I don’t have a lot of expertise in dealing with this kind of challenge and of course any significant response would be controversial. 

How do I figure out how to proceed?

**********************

Dr. Frank Benest writes:

I congratulate you for trying to figure out this messy and volatile situation.  The homelessness crisis is a classic adaptive (not technical) challenge:

  • It’s complex.
  • There is no right or wrong solution.
  • Uncertainty abounds.
  • Any action is risky and will be criticized.

Why do you need to act?

You are dealing with a messy and complex issue with uncertain outcomes. In such a situation, we not only tend to be cautious, we also overthink the problem and opportunity.  We seek clarity amid the complexity.  However, the only way to get clarity is to do something. As Dan Rockwell suggests, “the path emerges as you move forward, not before.” Leadership Freak blog, “Making Decisions When the Path Is Uncertain and Confusing,” Jan 1, 2020.)

By taking action, you can achieve some clarity about what works, what doesn’t work, and how you can modify what you are doing in order to continue to move forward.

Action (not thinking) also helps you learn in the real world.  You can’t learn much about tiny homes before you go.  You can only learn as you go.

Furthermore, taking action also invites more action by yourself and others.  (Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak blog, “7 Questions that Confront Paralysis,” Oct 4, 2014.)

To address the big adaptive challenges facing local government, we must innovate.  Developing a successful tiny homes project would certainly be an innovative response to the homelessness crisis.  Innovation requires action coupled with reflection.  We act, make some mistakes, reflect, and apply what we learn.  Innovation does not happen without learning from mistakes.

Finally, action reduces some of our fears.  We often do not take action because we fear that

  • People won’t like us.
  • We may fall on our face.
  • Others won’t follow us.
  • We don’t have the leadership skills to pull something off.
  • We’ll get fired.

Most of these fears are unlikely to occur.  (See Career Compass No. 58: Overcoming Deep-Seated Fears.)  By acting, we often discover that our fears are overblown.  “Fear shrinks when you step into it.”  Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak blog, “How to Overcome Overthinking and Get More Done,” Nov 26, 2019.)

How do you deal with so much uncertainty?

To address adaptive challenges like homelessness, local government action should mirror military strategy which requires clarity about direction (eliminate homelessness) and flexibility about how to get there.  If you decide to respond to the homelessness challenge, you must see the process as a journey and thus be open to the twists and turns of the journey.

In taking action, you want to get things “roughly right.”  It’s “ready, fire, aim.”  You want to fix things up as you go.  You cannot know everything before you go.  The key competency for 21st century leaders is “FIO” (figure it out).  (See Career Compass No. 65: FIO.) 

Before acting, you must ask some questions that will produce imperfect information.  And then you must act.

What are some questions to ask before you act?

To decide if and when to act, leaders like you need to ask themselves and others certain questions:

  1. How important is the issue to our organization and community?
  2. Can I make a contribution to help address the problem?
  3. Is this homelessness challenge aligned with my values and passion?  (See Career Compass No. 18: Taking Smart Risks.)
  4. What are the costs of not acting?
  5. Who else can I engage in order to move forward?
  6. Given the lack of commitment to act by others, what are one or two steps forward that I can take with others without formal approval?
  7. Even though some action may not solve the problem or be “perfect,” would some forward steps make the problem better?
  8. What would my best self do? (See Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak blog, “7 Questions That Confront Paralysis,” Oct 5, 2014.)
  9. What do I fear?  How likely is that fear?
  10. If I move forward, what is the possible harm?

What are some concrete ways for you to move forward?

To take a few steps forward with others (which will hopefully lead to more steps forward), you need to decide what you can do within your sphere of influence.  For instance, you could:

  • Identify a few staff from the Community Development Department, and other departments such as the Community Services and Police Departments, who would like to work with you to explore solutions to the homelessness challenge.
  • Invite a few volunteers to join your work team from the faith-based community, homeless advocacy and support organizations, and business and neighborhood groups.
  • Use your work team to conduct a series of one-to-one conversations with homeless folks on the streets (to get a better sense of their reality and what they desire), as well as other stakeholder groups, such as business and neighborhood representatives and police.
  • Visit other tiny home projects and identify best practices and lessons learned.
  • Identify other exemplary responses to the homelessness crisis, such as the use of trailers to provide transitional housing for the homeless.
  • Explore with local nonprofit organizations which agencies could operate and maintain any tiny home village as well as provide supportive services.
  • Identify potential sites for the village, especially those that are publicly owned.
  • Find funding, such as affordable housing fees from developers.
  • Figure out a “minimally viable product” to test out the tiny homes village concept.
  • With ideas from all stakeholders, draft a pilot project proposal with a budget for a pod of 5-7 tiny homes in order to test the viability of a full-fledged village.
  • Keep the city manager and the council subcommittee advised of your research.
  • Present to the subcommittee the proposal with the participation of all the stakeholders.
  • Deal with any reluctance by asking the council subcommittee members “What are several steps forward that you would be willing to try?” and then take the steps forward.

In taking these small actions, you want to use the big picture (i.e., end homelessness in my community) to evaluate options for actions ((i.e., develop tiny homes village).  You want to do something that advances the big picture solution.  (Dan Rockwell, Leadership Freak blog, “Making Decisions When the Path Is Uncertain and Confusing,” Jan 21, 2020.)

Think big, act small.

What about patience?

Previously, I have noted that patience is a leadership virtue.  (See Career Compass No. 75: Patience Is a Leadership Virtue.)  A leader does need to let events unfold and issues ripen.  However, while waiting for positive conditions to emerge, a leader can still use the time to do something such as the actions identified above.  For instance, you can engage city staff and outside stakeholders in conversation about the homelessness challenge.  You are not trying to avoid action.  Authentic conversations lead you to action.

Be patient and take a step or two forward.

How do you deal with your discomfort?

You are going to feel discomfort in taking action.  You don’t know the reactions of the city manager, councilmembers, and other stakeholders.  You also don’t know with any certainty the outcomes of your beta test of the tiny homes pod project.

Remember, discomfort is good.  You cannot learn or grow without getting uncomfortable.  You want to be uncomfortable without feeling overwhelmed or distressed.

The “sweet spot” of learning and growth is when you have a 50-70% chance of success.  If you have a 90% chance of success, it is too easy and you don’t learn much or grow.  If you only have a 40% chance of success, it is too difficult and you may feel great distress and withdraw.

If the endeavor is in your sweet spot, you are more likely to be fully engaged and energized and champion the project across the finish line.

What are tips to take action amid uncertainty?

In a messy world, you need to act and take a few steps forward.  Because of the uncertainty, you must take some risks.  There is no pay off without taking risks.

Here are some suggestions for taking “smart risks” in moving forward:

  1. Do something if it is aligned with your values and passion

If a challenge is not aligned with your values and passion, don’t take the risk.  Since you seem to be committed to social justice, you might be willing to act.

  1. Connect with others

To create a state of readiness for any proposed solution, you need to create relationship and connection with others.  Relationship must precede problem-solving.  Stake-holders are more likely to be open to your ideas and leadership if you have built a relationship with them.

  1. Communicate with confidence

You must talk with confidence even without 100% certainty.  Even if you are uncertain about the outcome of taking action, you cannot demonstrate uncertainty or anxiety.  If you show anxiety, you will transmit it to team members or other stakeholders.

Before communicating, take a deep breath and figure out what internal or external stakeholders need to know.  Ask yourself about their interests, concerns, fears, and questions.  The quicker you respond to their questions and concerns, the quicker you can calm their fears.  Once you have responded to their concerns, you can talk about next steps and encourage stakeholders to join you on the journey.

Even if things do not progress exactly as you envision, “people will be more forgiving if they feel like they are part of the process.” (Nancy Duarte as quoted by Allison Shapira, “How to Reassure Your Team When the News Is Scary,” hbr.org, March 5, 2020.)

  1. Actively seek out others who also want to do something positive

As you connect with stakeholders, seek out potential partners.  Finding partners inside and outside the organization allows you to generate diverse ideas, amalgamate resources, and build political support.  Partnering with others also spreads the risk.  It is difficult for opponents to attack you if they must also attack your partners (such as clergy or business leaders).

  1.  Demonstrate humility

Heroic leadership does not solve adaptive problems in the messy world of local government.  Hero leaders assert that they have all the answers, they know the one path forward, and they seek “buy-in” for their ideas.  People don’t gravitate towards heroic and arrogant leaders.  Rather, humble leaders attract support for their ideas because they demonstrate their values, acknowledge that they don’t have all the answers, seek out even better ideas, invite others to join, and follow as well as lead.  (See Career Compass No. 76: Humble Leaders Get Results.)

  1. Incorporate the ideas of non-experts

As community development director, you are an expert.  Non-experts do not have your expert assumptions.  Instead of an “expert’s mind” (which is a closed mind), they have a “beginner’s mind” (which is an open mind).  Diverse ideas from non-experts will lead to creative solutions.  (See Career Compass No. 72: How Do We Generate Creative Ideas?)

  1. Get everyone’s “fingerprints” on the proposed action

Given the lack of commitment by some of the councilmembers and the city manager as well as the outright opponents, you must engage everyone in authentic conversations and identify their hopes, concerns, fears, and ideas.  Then you need to demonstrate that you have responded to their ideas and concerns (even though you may not agree with those perspectives or solve all the problems that have been raised.)  With everyone’s “fingerprints” on the pilot project, your idea morphs for the better and becomes “our idea.”

  1. Conduct a “pre-mortem”

To minimize obstacles and missteps that may block your efforts, conduct a “pre-mortem.”  Don’t just jump into action.  Before you start the project, gather all your internal and external partners and ask the group to imagine that the project is 18 months down the road and a lot of things have gone wrong.  Your team then writes down all the negative things on a white board after which your group reengineers the project work plan so that it minimizes the anticipated obstacles or missteps.

  1. Propose a “minimally viable project”

Instead of proposing to build a whole village of tiny homes for homeless people, make a little bet and seek to experiment with a “minimally viable project.”  (See Peter Sims, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, 2011.)  In your case, test out a pod of 5-7 tiny homes or trailers with a shared restroom and showers with supervision and supportive services provided by a nonprofit agency experienced in serving homeless clients.  You can learn from this beta test, fix up problems as they occur, learn as you go, and eventually develop a winnable village solution.

  1. Debrief along the way and be flexible

Assuming you get approval to undertake a pilot project, understand that it gets particularly “messy in the middle.”  Because change projects and other innovative solutions may stall, you must as a leader be open to pivoting. 

To learn as you go and make adjustments, debrief with your partners your ongoing efforts:

  • What is working well?
  • What is not working well?
  • What are we learning?
  • What adjustments do we need to make?

Change for the better is a journey.  You must be open to the twists and turns of the adventure.  Again, you must be clear about the desired end result yet flexible about how to get there.

Amid the adversity and messiness in the middle, you must sustain the effort.  As Winston Churchill advised, “It is the courage to continue that counts.”

  1. Celebrate progress

Since any change project of significance may take a lot to time, your motivation as a leader and the motivation of others may wane over time.  Therefore, leaders must demonstrate progress.  As you achieve certain milestones (i.e., commitment of the land for the pilot project), celebrate progress with followers.  (See Theresa Amabile and Steven Kramer, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, 2011.)

12. Get coaching

Informal coaching from savvy peers inside and outside the organization can advise you on how to navigate the uncertainty and messiness of your enterprise.  Every 21st century leader requires coaching.  (Go to ICMA’s “CoachConnect” registry of one-to-one coaches available to all local government professionals.)

All the big challenges are messy.

All the big challenges facing local governments are adaptive in nature.  They include responding to homelessness, traffic congestion, pandemics, the opioid crisis, gangs, unaffordable health care, the move toward technology-enhanced service delivery, community divisiveness, the demands of our changing demographics, and climate protection.

Even though these adaptive challenges are urgent and demand action, it is unclear how to act. . .but leaders must act anyway.  To paraphrase Tom Peters, great leaders have a “bias for action.”  (See Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, Search for Excellence—Lessons From America’s Best Run Companies, 1984.)  They do something to move forward, fix things up, and learn as they go.

Amid all the uncertainty and angst, great leaders are compelled to act and do something.

*********************************************************************************************************

Sponsored by the ICMA Coaching Program, ICMA Career Compass is a monthly column from ICMA focused on career issues for local government professional staff. Dr. Frank Benest is ICMA’s liaison for Next Generation Initiatives and resides in Palo Alto, California. If you have a career question you would like addressed in a future Career Compass, e-mail careers@icma.org or contact Frank directly at frank@frankbenest.com. Read past columns at icma.org/careercompass.

Get ICMA Career Compass right in your inbox by subscribing. Select any issue, and look for the blue Feedburner subscription box.


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Nomination Applications Now Open for 2020 Manager of the Year.

GENERAL INFORMATION
IaCMA’s Annual Manager of the Year Award honors chief administrators whose accomplishments and superior work performance represent the best possible application of management principles and who’s creative contributions to professional local government management increases public awareness of the value of professional management to the quality of life in our communities.

REQUIREMENTS

  • To be considered for the Manager of the Year Award, the chief administrator must be a full (voting) IaCMA member.
  • Candidate must be employed as the chief appointed administrative officer in a municipality.
  • Candidate must have overall management responsibility and be appointed or confirmed by the legislative body, the elected chief executive and/or the chief appointed administrative officer.

HOW TO MAKE A NOMINATION
Please include a brief, descriptive narrative.  Complete Sections 1 and 2 of the nomination cover sheet and staple it in front of the narrative.  The narrative should demonstrate how the chief administrator has made significant contributions to the governmental entity served as demonstrated by:

Contributions to the municipality that he/she serves

  • Enacted policies or practices that have enhanced the efficiency and effectiveness of their municipality
  • Leadership & Management Skills
  • Personal and Professional Development Activities
  • Professionalism & Integrity
  • Employee Development
  • Community and Civic Service
  • Public Stewardship
  • Self-Management

Contributions to the ICMA/IaCMA

  • Serving as an officer, committee member or volunteer
  • Serving as a workshop presenter or meeting facilitator for training sessions
  • Serving as a mentor
  • Publishing articles
  • Developing survey, studies or reports
  • Achieving professional certifications or designations

RECOGNITION
The IaCMA Manager of the Year will be awarded during the virtual IaCMA networking session on September 17. The deadline for nomination is September 1, 2020. Nomination forms may be requested from Dylan Mulfinger or from the Iowa League of Cities.

Submitting Your Nomination
Applications of each descriptive narrative along with the nomination form shall be received at the close of business on September 1, 2020.
Attention: IaCMA Awards Committee
Iowa League of Cities
500 SW 7th Street, Suite 101
Des Moines, IA  50309-4111
OR
Nominations can be e-mailed to:  IaCMA’s Professional Awards Committee; Dylan Mulfinger.

The Association’s past award recipients include:
2009       Carol Ann Diekema- Monroe
2010       Jeff Mark- Altoona
2011       Bill Daily- Belle Plaine
2012       Tom Brownlow- Charles City
2013       Jim Ferneau- Burlington
2014       Elizabeth Hansen – Nevada
2015       Jessica Kinser – Clinton
2016       Jeff Pomeranz – Cedar Rapids
2017       Aaron Burnett – Keokuk
2018       Michael Schrock – Oskaloosa
2019       Matt Mardesen – Nevada


1 Comment

Career Compass No. 83: How Do I Have Energizing Performance Conversations with Direct Reports?

By Frank Benest | Jul 6, 2020

Dear Frank –
     I’m an administrative services manager in a large special district. I have five direct reports who are talented and mostly want to be challenged and grow. Once a year I’m required to complete a performance evaluation for each of my direct reports and then meet individually with them to review the evaluation. What a waste of time! I hate performance evaluations!

     This annual ritual sucks the life out of me as well as my employees. In addition, when I meet with an employee to go over the review, the staff person seems to get defensive even if it is a mostly good performance review.

     I can’t avoid the performance evaluation. However, do you have any suggestions to make it a better and more energizing experience?

For Dr. Benest’s full response and advise on this issue, please click here.

Sponsored by the ICMA Coaching Program, ICMA Career Compass is a monthly column from ICMA focused on career issues for local government professional staff.
Dr. Frank Benest is ICMA’s liaison for Next Generation Initiatives and resides in Palo Alto, California.
If you have a career question you would like addressed in a future Career Compass, e-mail careers@icma.org or contact Frank directly at frank@frankbenest.com. Read past columns at icma.org/careercompass. You can also subscribe to ICMA Career Compass by selecting any issue, and look for the blue subscription box.