Charmelle Garrett, ICMA-CM
I follow the ICMA Code of Ethics. I strongly believe that my reputation is only as good as my behavior. The old adage "walk the talk" is important to me. I conduct myself in a professional manner, not only during business hours but also outside of work.
I always remember that I am the city manager for my community when I am grocery shopping, eating at a local restaurant, going to a community theater performance, or when I travel out of town.
If I'm wrong, I admit it. If I'm rude, I apologize. My husband, who is a retired police officer, always said, "The dignity of the office follows you." In all situations, I conduct myself with this in mind.
Ephraim City, Utah
Protecting our reputation as public administrators derives from truly understanding who we are and the principles we keep in both our public and private lives. For me, the challenge of protecting my reputation is that my view of it may be different than what is held by others.
I recognize that an occasional misspoken word and/or misdeed may create a pattern that could potentially damage the reputation that I strive to protect. At the end of each day, I reflect on the many discussions, the complex projects, and the possibly controversial decisions that occurred throughout the day.
Although the reflection may be brief, I feel it is important to understand my behavior and decisions objectively. In this profession that is highly scrutinized, it is important to remain true to ourselves and our principles.
I protect my reputation by trusting my gut, being honest, having the same message for and to all audiences, and being professional. My basic strategy is to avoid questionable situations, although I recognize sometimes that isn't possible.
I trust my gut in gauging the legitimacy of a situation and formulating comments appropriate to that situation. If avoiding a situation is not possible, then I will adjust any comments to be more circumspect, but still carry the same message. I think it is critical that while information may be tailored, the basic message I share has to be the same no matter the audience.
And last, I strive to be professional at all times. After all, a manager's reputation is her or his currency.
The biggest thing I do is make sure I'm always telling the truth. I try to stay well-informed and share my knowledge with others. If I don't know the answer to something, I admit it and promise to find the answer. If people can trust your honesty, they tend to give you the benefit of the doubt on most everything else.
Always telling the truth may sound a bit simplistic, but it can be surprisingly hard to do when your job relies on being well liked. Little transgressions that "nobody will ever know about" can be pretty attractive options. I try to avoid even the smallest ethical lapses in order to maintain my credibility at all times.
I also am willing to have courageous conversations to protect my reputation. When I hear rumors about me or staff members, I quickly talk to those spreading the gossip and offer them the full story so that they are better informed. Often, the people who were spreading the rumors will help to stop them by spreading the right kind of information after we talk.