Another important component of the “internal infrastructure” is the personnel and risk management system of the organization. When I say this as a component of economic/community development, some people’s eyes glass-over. It all goes back to the idea that an organization is, at its best, an organic, symbiotic whole.
The conversation with the governing body has been held and issues of organizational capacity have been had. Parallel is the personnel system. I say this having been in a city where there was no personnel system (1989) and another in which there was not a functioning personnel system (2008). And there have been a few in between where I provided consulting services and the job descriptions and personnel policies had not been updated in a few decades. It may seem intuitive, but in many small communities (10,000 and under — and there are more of these in most states), this seems to be the case.
Again, most often it seems that there is an inability of council’s to understand personnel systems (except when they have an axe to grind against a department). It often appears that (1) there is a fear of the dealing with personnel issues; (2) we’ve always done it that way; (3) there are personal relations that interfere with rational personnel management. However, in promoting a community, one of the things that we all brag about (as we should) is the quality of our workforce. This only happens through adequate training – even when budget cuts occur. In many states, there are agencies that have ‘train the trainer” programs – a very cost effective way to keep agency personnel trained.
Training is important. Equally, it is important to let employees know what their role is relative to economic development and in representing your particular community. This goes to police officers, snow plowers, clerks, custodians and your receptionist. Each person has an ambassador role. Help them discover this role and encourage their interaction with residents and visitors to your community.
This also relates to the safety of the workplace. I once invited OSHA into a city workplace as part of introducing a safety program. Mitigating, and hopefully eliminating injuries reduces lost work time, and those dreaded workers’ compensation claims. And eventually, the workers’ comp cost to your payroll decreases. Program your dollars into ED activities and capital improvements.
Again, we are developing skill sets, developing leadership and creating examples for employees to become leaders too, all the while, also developing and strengthening economic development programs.
For more information on developing economic development, community development and leadership programs for your community, please contact Economic Development Data Services at 330-541-3128.
©Economic Development Data Services, LLC, July 2012