By Janice Janssen
There are four keys to maintaining a successful organization. Some require more immediate attention, and others must remain top of mind all of the time.
1. Systems. Protocols. Processes. These are words that can be used when referring to the function or operation of an organization. You often hear “The organization isn’t working effectively because there are no systems in place.” Or, “Not everyone is following the proper procedures.” Many times, employees can say that they didn’t know there was a protocol in place, or that they weren’t trained on the rules.
Systems can determine how an organization is run; the process is the step to get it done. Creating a system of accountability means that each team member understands what the job is and who is responsible for making it happen.
It is recommended that each and every process be written down. This may seem overwhelming, yet it will be helpful when training a new team member. The final thought on this step is to review processes often. The world is ever-changing and so is an organization.
2. Know Your Numbers. Know Your Organization. What does it cost to keep a local government organization going? What numbers are important? The obvious answer is revenues and expenses. Looking a bit deeper, make sure what is coming in and what is going out at all times is understood. If there is something suspicious, ask and make sure that you are comfortable with the answer.
3. The Tricky Art of Marketing. The purpose of marketing is to let people know that the doors to your local government are open, and there is something or someone available that residents might need to make their lives easier, faster, better.
What is marketing? To put it simply: Everything is marketing There is internal and external marketing. Internal marketing is customer service and office décor. It can be said that a customer likes the organization but can’t stand dealing with the staff, or vice versa. The look of the office building from the moment a resident gets out of his or her car in the parking lot is marketing. Is there trash they must step over, or might there be a strange odor once inside the building?
An interesting exercise is for a manager to walk through a city hall or county courthouse with a customer’s viewpoint, from the front door until someone’s business in the building is typically concluded.
External marketing is how you tell people about the local government’s administration throughout the community. Website, Facebook, community events, and ads are all forms of external marketing. Resident attraction and retention of community details must be a constant focus for the health of an organization.
You need to be aware of how you are gaining residents’ respect based upon what the local government organization is doing and determine the return on investment for everything being done. At the same time, have a method for residents to let you know if their experience with the organization or directly in an office did not meet their expectations. This would require a post-visit survey, suggestion box, or even a follow-up phone call.
What does the front door to both the administration building and the administrator’s office look like? Is there something that is unsightly enough to turn someone away? Marketing is more than website design or people asking for assistance. It begins with the appearance of an office. You want to put your best foot forward from the beginning and for some, an impression might be made driving by a building. Seeing a peeling sign or overgrown shrubbery could be negative enough to make a resident decide to drive on and not venture inside.
4. Communication. We all know how to talk, but do we all know how to communicate? Effective communication is much more than merely transferring information. It is not always easy due to the circumstances. There are two ways to communicate—verbal and written. Each is important and has a place in any organization.
Written communication includes not only formal contracts or policies. It includes letters for hiring, performance reviews, and counseling memos. Plus, the written process can have a strong value in an employee’s ability to provide excellent customer service. Anything that is discussed outside of the normal processes and procedures should be documented to protect the organization and an employee or resident/customer.
Communications with residents and customers are just as important to document, to avoid a “he said – she said” type of event. If an assurance or an agreement is made, it should be recorded.
The number one frustration in most organizations can be the lack of communication. This frustration can lead to good employees leaving or to poor performance due to not understanding role expectations. It can lead to frustrated residents too.
It is important to understand where your organization stands at any point in time, and that team members have the organization’s vision ingrained in their actions.
Janice Janssen is co-founder, Global Team Solutions, Boerne, Texas (www.GTSGurus.com).