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A View from the Other Side: Working Effectively with Elected Officials. Vaughn Upshaw 919.966.9982 upshaw@sog.unc.edu. Today’s goal is to learn…. How to bridge the gap between professionals and elected officials To recognize the Context within boards operate

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a view from the other side working effectively with elected officials
A View from the Other Side:Working Effectively with Elected Officials

Vaughn Upshaw919.966.9982upshaw@sog.unc.edu

today s goal is to learn
Today’s goal is to learn…
  • How to bridge the gap between professionals and elected officials
  • To recognize the
    • Context within boards operate
    • Decision making role of the board
    • Expertise of public managers
our focus will be
Our focus will be

Framing issues to:

  • engage elected officials to make the best decisions possible
  • reduce micromanagement
we elect people because
We elect people because …
  • Public problems cannot be solved only by technical means
  • “Private” doesn’t mean there is no public interest
  • Technical feasibility doesn’t mean it’s a good choice
  • Board members reflect community “values”
the elected officials world
The Elected Officials’ World
  • Vague task definitions
  • No hierarchy
  • No specialization
  • Little feedback
  • Open meetings
examples
Examples
  • What issues does your board want to have input on?
  • What issues do you want your board’s input on?
public problems are complex
Public Problems Are Complex

Public problems are rarely simple and straightforward

Problems are complex, multifaceted, interdependent, and systemic

If there was a simple solution someone would have already found it

public problems
Public problems…
    • Involve choices among public values
    • Affect us as citizens
    • Occur in public settings
    • No one in charge
  • More than one solution—but no one right answer
    • Value conflicts—we disagree
four core public values
Four core public values

Liberty

Community

Prosperity

Equality

slide10

LIBERTY

Freedom, choice, access, autonomy, opportunity, individuality, privacy, due process, independence, personal responsibility, self-determination, self-sufficiency

slide11

EQUALITY

Fairness, justice, tolerance, diversity, equity, inclusion, equal rights, equal opportunity, equal treatment, equal results, level playing field

slide12

COMMUNITY

Safety, security, sense of place, sense of connection and belonging, tradition, customs, the sacred, preservation, restoration, conservation, social and moral order, quality of life

slide13

PROSPERITY

Economy, efficiency, productivity, growth, profit, development, competition, consolidation, centralization, privatization, standardization, measurement, return on investment, market rules

the governing board s value proposition
The Governing Board’s Value Proposition

What services do we offer

to what people?

at what quality?

and what cost?

characteristics

Administration

Elected Officials

Comparison

Characteristics

Problem solving

Experts

“What do you know?”

  • Data
  • Plans
  • Reports

Tangible information, money, people, equipment

Knowledge (deeds)

Predictability, cooperation, continuity

Persuasion

Representatives

“What do you hear?”

  • Passion
  • Dreams
  • Stories

Intangible interests and symbols

Power (stories)

Conflict, compromise, change

Activity

Players

Conversation

Components

Currency

Dynamics

Adapted from J. Nalbandian, University of Kansas

realities for local governments
Realities for Local Governments
  • Gaps between politicians, professionals and citizens
  • Decentralized services
  • Specialized staff
  • Redefining relationships
  • Connecting citizens to local government
management responsibilities
Management Responsibilities
  • Help the governing body effectively use local government’s administrative systems to build and maintain a sense of community
  • Modernize the organization
  • Bridge the gaps between community, government, citizens, experts and politicians
exercise
Exercise
  • Share with one other person your most successful experience in working with your board.
  • Join another pair and summarize what worked best.
  • Identify common strategies that lead to success.
bridge gaps by
Bridge Gaps By…
  • Recognizing the board’s policy making role
  • Having the board clarify results to be achieved
  • Using effective problem solving techniques
  • Developing positive group norms
  • Encouraging team building on the board
  • Creating partnerships with professional staff
  • Cultivating good framing and “translation” skills
productive decision making
Productive Decision Making
  • Present all the facts of the situation
  • Generate multiple ideas about how the situation could be handled
  • Evaluate the merits of the ideas—list benefits and drawbacks
  • Get everybody’s gut feelings about the alternatives
  • Summarize in a formal motion and vote
board decision making
Board Decision Making
  • Strategic: mission, institutional direction, values, priorities and principles.

Examples?

board decision making1
Board Decision Making
  • Quality: primary clientele, types of services, delivery systems that focus on the relationship of programs and departments to overall mission.

Examples?

board and staff decision making
Board and Staff Decision Making
  • Resource: planning, budgeting, financing, marketing, and personnel. Budget approval process, setting rates and fees.

Examples?

board and staff decision making1
Board and Staff Decision Making
  • Administrative: decisions about day to day practices—participation in community activities, selection of contractors, interlocal agreements.

Examples?

staff decision making
Staff Decision Making
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs): procedures to handle routine transactions and normal form, process, method and application of policies.

Examples?

staff decision making1
Staff Decision Making
  • Rules: regulations that guide or prescribe everyday conduct (parking, smoking areas, dress…).

Examples?

decision making framework
Decision Making Framework

Decision Making Steps

Decision Making Levels

Decision

Monitoring

Clarify decision

objectives

Adopt written

decision

Implementthe decision

Strategic

Request briefing for decisions

Board’s Major Focus

Quality

Receive

periodicupdates

Board and Staff

Shared Focus

Resource

Administrative

Make sure

Evaluation

occurs

Staff’s Major Focus

SOPs

Rule

Adapted from D. Chait, T. Holland, B. Taylor (1993) The Effective Board of Trustees

policy options
Policy Options

Results

Process

Policies that

prohibit certain

processes

Policies that

prohibit certain

results

Prohibit

Policies that

prescribe certain

processes

Policies that

prescribe certain

results

Prescribe

Source: Adapted from Pointer & Ewell, 1994, p. 107

strategic choices
Strategic Choices
  • Know what elected officials are trying to achieve
  • Know what you are trying to achieve
  • Promote learning and change
  • Think strategically
  • Develop partnerships
  • Embrace diversity as a strength
  • Use technology to drive innovations
you can now
You can now…

1. Bridge the gap between professionals and elected officials because you recognize the

  • Context within which boards operate
  • Policy role of the board
  • Expertise of public managers

2. Reduce the chance that elected officials will micromanage

3. Engage elected officials in making decisions they are best equipped to make