Municipal Employees Need Less Management and More Coaching and Mentoring

As the global economy becomes more competitive and unpredictable, the pressure is on municipal governments and all organizations to perform with flexibility, responsiveness and innovative thinking.

Yet, according to research, the 21st century workplace has seen an overall decrease in employee engagement. One reason for this is a depersonalized work environment where co-workers are more isolated, emotionally disengaged and communicate through electronic means instead of in person.

Businesses and governments realize that it’s not enough for just senior leaders and executives to believe in a strategic vision. Workers at all levels need to know what is expected of them and make the connection between the work they do and an organization’s overall goals.

This has led companies to rethink the roles and relationships in their workplaces, specifically the role of management. Surveys reveal that employees value recognition and encouragement in their jobs. The role of manager is, therefore, being re-framed to include coaching and mentoring skills.

Manager-as-coach is a more personal relationship that seeks engagement and cooperation rather than obedience and efficiency. It consists of face-to-face conversation and a dynamic, mutually beneficial exchange to achieve goals and enhance performances. The best managers will be able to establish a personal rapport with people and help them strengthen skills and build competencies.

A mentor is like a coach but not necessarily in a job-reporting relationship. They give more general advice and guidance to an individual for inspiration and to pass on organizational knowledge. A mentorship program can pair new hires with long-serving employees to contribute to their confidence, job satisfaction and professional development.

The expectations that organizations and municipal governments have of workers is dramatically shifting, with the emphasis moving from efficiency and communication to engagement and accountability, from discipline and compliance to cooperation and personal commitment. This shift will help build stronger workplace cultures that brings out the best in workers, aligns them with organizational goals and delivers results.

The information in this article is based on curriculum material for the SEEC’s Masters Certificate in Municipal Leadership (starting April 8, 2019). The program is designed to help managers and leaders serve the community more effectively in challenging times.