Leadership & Management

My leadership style has been influenced through many experiences, and I’ve come to the conclusion that most effective leadership “style” is one that is flexible and adaptive, and ultimately one that is focused on outcomes, not methods.   Over the years I’ve learned that it is better to be a nimble and agile leader than a directive and powerful one.  My ‘style’ is less important than my impact, and it’s up to me to change my style as the situation requires.

Throughout my campaign and discussions with employees across the County, I’ve observed some troubling trends -

  • fear that voicing political opinions or candidate preferences outside of work hours will result in retaliation
  • fear that raising legitimate complaints will result in retaliation
  • a perception that career advancement and professional opportunities are limited to those with a family connection

It’s quite possible that these are just perceptions, not reality, but perceptions can effect performance and keep those who work for the county from thriving.  We can fix this disconnect by rethinking how county employees are professionally evaluated and assessed for advancement and for opportunities.

A County Commissioner is  Generalist, not a Specialist.  Ideally a Commissioner is an expert in leadership, facilitation, and organizational management.  I am that leader.

It is not necessary for a Commissioner to be an expert in Public Health, Accounting, Water Management, or Public Safety.  We have positions in the County for folks who are subject matter experts - some, like the Sheriff, Assessor, Clerk, and Treasurer are elected, and others, like the Public Health and Social Services Director, are hired.

To assume that a Commissioner can effectively assess the performance of subject matter experts assumes that simply by being elected, a Commissioner’s authority is enough to substitute for subject knowledge.  I’m personally uncomfortable with such an authoritarian view towards public service, and I also know it’s not the most effective way to build strength, resiliency, and teamwork.

I recommend that we move to an outcome-based 360 review process for county employees.  This method for reviewing performance gives a far more comprehensive picture of the employee and their impact on the community they serve.  An outcome based review process ties job requirements to observable behaviors and measurable targets, and is very effective in eliminating common personality-related pitfalls, giving everyone a fair chance to be assessed against a fixed standard.  Since Commissioners are term limited and often serve shorter tenures than their employees, we must have an effective process that is consistent from election to election.

A 360 review collects information from multiple sources - up (your boss), down (your direct reports) and across (your peers), and you (a self-assessment).  A 360 review includes carefully curated questions that are based on an observable, measurable set of standards.  It provides rich feedback to the employee, feeds meaningful professional development plans, and is a step towards creating an environment of cooperation and inclusion among employees. Lower level employees have an opportunity to provide feedback to those above them and become valuable assets for growth.

This type of review process results in a fairer distribution of opportunities for advancement, and asks all employees, from the lowest compensation level  to the highest, to be a valuable  member of the organization.   In communities like ours, where generational family last names are common, a professional and structured approach to performance reviews helps provide assurances that the individual hired and promoted, regardless of their last name, is the individual who is best for the county.

If elected, I will work with Human Resources to modernize and standardize our relationship with County employees, elected and hired, in a way that provides everyone a fair and unbiased opportunity for advancement, values each individual’s need for professional development, and improves each departments ability to serve.