“If you present good government, then elections look after themselves.”
~ Jay Weatherill
Election season is upon us and many of you are probably facing what we like to call the “silly season” episodes. It is often a real challenge to try and stay focused on providing effective government when political incumbents are distracted and risk averse and while candidates are laying claim to be the experts on what needs to be done to improve your agency. These two forces can merge and suppress even the most effective organization from moving forward. Taxpayers are hungry for results and as government officials, it is imperative that and your team continue to do good work while planning for November. Below are several useful tips to help your workforce and team of elected officials maintain some level of effectiveness during the “silly season.”
1. Problem Solve – Seek to distinguish between those problems which can be solved and those which can only be worked on. This nugget of wisdom comes from former Secretary of State George Schulz, a guy who understood the world of international diplomacy. Granted, people often think every problem has a solution, but making this distinction can save you a lot of sleepless nights. Remember the application of attention and effort can be the equivalent of a solution.
2. Guard Your Brand – Negative political rhetoric can tarnish your organization’s brand and diminish the momentum! Do all that you can to maintain a thick skin and keep the faith! Remember, the main goal for every government that exists is to serve as the protagonist for a high quality of life, not crumble when things get tough.
3. Remember That Silence Is Not Golden! – Don’t interpret the absence of mistakes as the definition of success. I used to advise my staff when I worked in local government that they should worry when elected officials don’t ask questions after they presented an item for their consideration at a public meeting. Interpreting silence as affirmation can be dangerous. Understandably, it can be slightly aggravating when elected officials ask you questions during a public meeting that have already been addressed. Remember, it’s healthy when elected officials ask questions because it means they’re engaged, just realize they don’t always want to change their mind when you answer their questions.
4. Make Social Media Your Best Friend – Take your agency’s message directly to your customer. Today, there are a number of channels that can work to help you get closer to your customers and keep them apprised about the role of your agency and its impact on the community it serves. Learn how to utilize Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn to tell your story and interact with your constituents. For more specifics on how to use social media for maximum effectiveness, read my white paper on it here: http://www.gettingbetterallthetime.com/assets/articles/Ibarra%20Digital%20Government%20-%20Creating%20the%20Social%20Media%20Game%20Plan.pdf
5. Remain Noble – Always keep in mind that public service is a noble profession! If you’ve forgotten that, take a minute and go visit with customers of your organization to see your impact first hand. If you’re an Accountant, take a minute to observe all the activities and resources that get paid for each month due to your diligent accounting skills. No matter what your role, you are part of a team and your skilled participation is crucial to the success, and the effectiveness, of your organization.