Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Harangue

Source: Freedictionary.com
Have you seen the Progressive Insurance commercial with Dads’ Support Group for people who are saying and doing things their dads did?  Are you now equivalent to dad in the office?  One way you’ve become dad, that is a senior staff member, is the harangue.  You tell the history of the program, the project, when most have already heard it.  It’s true some of the new staff may not know the history and history can be important.  Staff want to move on to new programs, projects or solutions.  It just takes up a lot of time when you could be problem solving.  Millenials and GenXers, what are you seeing in the work place, vowing you’ll never say or do?  Senior staff, what are you doing that you never thought you would be doing?  Tell me about the time you…  
Are there solutions when you have someone on the way to the harangue? Sure there are.

Tactics to Challenge the Harangue

The harangue occurs when one person dominates the committee meeting, the staff meeting or just a conversation.  You’ve probably seen the Progressive Insurance commercial with the Dads’ Support Group for people who are saying and doing things their dads did?  The harangue can be interesting and useful at first, but it often takes up time, and you’ve heard it many times before.  It fails to help you solve the current problem.  Here are some things you can do.

1.  Chairs of meetings. You know the drill. Start your meeting on time and end on time.

            This works most of the time although I’ve seen the haranguer hijack meetings.  It takes a strong chair.  I chaired a meeting one time in which I suddenly jumped up and said I had to leave. I had a bus to catch.  It’s true, I did.  You might not have that extreme a need to end the meeting, but you do need to investigate questions that arose in the meeting.

2.  Attendees.  If you are an attendee to a meeting, discretely leave when the meeting should be over.  Don’t leave before the meeting is scheduled to end.

Yes, you might not want to do this if your boss is the chair, but a team meeting might be just the place.  You have to judge how others will feel about this.  Will they resent this actions and accuse you of not being a team player?

3.  Telecommuters. If the harangue is a phone conversation, dust.

            I discovered that a colleague of mine also had this tactic.  I have cleaned places I would never imagine cleaning.  The harangue sometimes contains information you do need as well as the history you’ve heard.  If someone else is home, have that person call you loudly so you can end the conversation.  Don’t use the excuse of another call on the line.  It’s rude.

4. Hallway conversations.  Continue walking. Don’t stop.  

Are there solutions if you are the one who likes to harangue.  Sorry.  We'll need to have a support group for you at work for that.

You can see the Progressive Commercial that inspired me on YouTube.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Classics for modern public and nonprofit management

In Search of Excellence to Reinventing Government to Managing in the 21st Century

This month I introduce you to two classic management books that still have relevance to today's public and nonprofit managers.  The best companies put customer service in the forefront according to Peters and Waterman.   The way to be the best public service is to provide customer service according to Osborne and Gaebler.
Unfortunately, there is no comparable classic for the nonprofit sector.  Certainly, providing excellent service will make you a stand-out.   In Search for Excellence  has at least one other message that applies to modern nonprofits, "Stick to Your Knitting."  Many nonprofits while running for the grants are pulled away from their true missions.

Peters, Thomas and Robert Waterman (1982).  In Search of Excellence.  New York: Harper and Row.
Osborne, David and Ted Gaebler (1992). Reinventing Government. >Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tips on Creating Performance Measures: Hard to track Clients

Sometimes it's hard to create perfomance measures because you have clients that need privacy. You have clients that are moving on with their lives and leave the area. You can still measure your work!

Tip: Ask them to call you.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Public and Nonprofit Management by the Book: Getting to Yes

 A citizen received a call from the town council chair.  After that call, he came to the town council meeting and demanded that the council chair stop bullying and intimidating him. Ever wondered how to handle such a situation.  You can get to yes.  Here's how


Reference:  Fisher, Roger and William Ury.  Getting to Yes. New York: Penguin Books. Any edition

A citizen received a call from the town council chair.  After that call, he came to the town council meeting and demanded that the council chair stop bullying and intimidating him. The chair had probably spoken to him about a major economic development report that the council had approved.  The chair response was that his call wasn’t intimidating. Then he “double downed” and told the citizen should to file an ethics complaint.  Can these two ever agree? 

You sigh and say there is not much that can be done.  Well Fisher and Ury who wrote Getting to Yes give us some ideas. 

It’s clear that personalities are interfering with a solution.  And we really need to know what the problem is rather than guessing.  Find out what might be helpful to both.  In small towns they will meet each other again. 

What are possible options. We need to have someone intervene that’s for a sure, in formal parlance, a facilitator, but in this situation, it could simply be another citizen.  it may be that the citizen simply needs an apology. Politicians aren’t very good at that. The political apology I’m sorry if you feel that way.  That may be enough.

Or it may be that the citizen needs to be heard.  He may not understand that the report is just that only a report. There will be plenty of public meetings before the citizens vote on any expenditure.  Once we narrow down possible solutions, do the two agree that the solution. is fair or beneficial or in the interests of the community. 

Let me give you another example, resolving a conflict in your staff meeting.  I’ve been in two staff meeting where the solution was asking, what do you need?   In a staff I worked with we often had disagreements about what kind of information to convey to the next level.  The minutes of the meeting weren’t enough.  I was chairing that day and asked what do you need to one peeved staff?  He wanted to write a memo.  Once stated I was fortunate enough to be able to say you got it.  Thanks for listening, I hope you can get to Yes.  I’m Carolyn Ball

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Town Manager Neutrality Essential for the Well-Being of our Towns

The Maine Town City and County Managers Association has taken a strong stand against the beliefs of Jackman Town Manager who is not member of MTCMA.  Members adhere to a Code of Ethics to maintain the public confidence. Further, the history of the profession is one of neutrality, to serve all.  A town manager who espouses white nationalist beliefs, even in his private time, can not fulfill the job of town manager. It is a very difficult position.  The town has since terminated this person.  Jackman Maine Town Manager story
Here is the full statement of Larry Mead, Old Orchard Beach Town Manager, President of the MTCMA

Maine Town City and County Management Association Statement

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Blizzards, Cyclone Bombs and Pay

Source: Carolyn Ball, Mount Desert Island Maine, 1/4/2018

Would you go to work if you had to pass this storm surge. Would you pay an employee who didn't come in because of the storm surge above. Almost anywhere in the US and in Canada, you have had to close, partially close your nonprofit or government for a day or part of the day. You may have had essential employees who had to work.  It used to be relatively simple how you were going to pay or not pay employees.  You often paid employees whether salaried or hourly if they worked for part of the day.  You might have paid only your salaried if you closed for the whole day.  In the past few years, employers have become much more concerned about the safety of employees. Last year, one our hospitals closed during a snowstorm!  Yes, the emergency room was open and nurses on the units had to come in, but most support personnel and clinics were closed.  Safety seems to trump the need to control the payroll.

Now you have one more wage consideration.  You have employees, both salaried and hourly, who work from home, all the time, some of the time, or when there is a blizzard.  Your salaried employees will continue to be paid, but how do you manage your hourly employees? Do you pay those hourly employees who can work from home their regular pay and not pay those hourlies who do their work on site?  You may have salaried employees who become hourly employees as they run snowplows.  Particularly for public employers, fairness is a concern but so too is using the taxpayers’ funds wisely.  How have you controlled your payroll during the snowstorms, blizzards, and extreme cold weather? I’d like to know what policies you have in place or did you make a specific decision related to a storm?