Moving in, Moving Up, and Moving On

ARTICLE | Jun 3, 2016

As we continued our WorkforceWednesday series in May, we tackled the topic of an engaged workforce. By conducting interviews with two local government managers, asking them to explore the influencing factors that helped them develop their careers and reach the points they are at today, we were able to get a look inside at what can be effective in not only attracting top talent, but developing them into leaders.

As both Ms. Schwartz and Ms. Eades discussed, they have strong mentors, but also were involved in important projects that made them feel a part of their communities -- connected to something bigger and valued. Seemingly small actions in a moment can propel drastic changes in attitude and alter a career trajectory more easily than one might think. Their interviews resonated with us for many reasons, one of them being the dramatically changing landscape of local government and the need to attract new talent to the workforce, and hopefully, in the process, bridge the gap of women in local government leadership positions.

In the Alliance's Fall 2015 IDEAS Quarterly Report, Kim Sandoval of ELGL wrote an article for us called Leaving Local Government. Her article relied heavily on survey data that looked at the causes individuals left local government. Among the top three were: increased compensation, pursuing other career opportunities, and burnout. However, when looking at the open-ended responses, top answers included lack of leadership opportunities and political environment. At this point, you may be wondering what makes these two articles relevant. Given that 50% of the survey respondents had been in local government for less than five (5) years, it begs the questions: are local governments effectively recruiting, but more importantly incentivizing talented, passionate individuals to remain in the local government workforce?

The examples from Ms. Eades and Schwartz highlighted a central tenet from Kim Sandoval's article and on talent recruitment in general, "Each organization and employee is unique and not every role will be a good pairing. If current leaders want to retain this willing group in their organizations, they need to provide and guide them to development opportunities.  Consider if job swaps might be beneficial to your agency and current employees. This approach may not be possible in all organizations but can provide opportunities for growth and development for future leaders."

There are clearly a multitude of methods and directions organizations can take to recruit and train talent (and keep them), and in fact June's WorkforceWednesday topic will cover one of the methods do so that is alluded to above, job shadowing. What these two competing articles do tell us is that the local governments should be taking deliberate steps to recruit talent and maintain an engaged workforce, even though that may look different for each person and organization.

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