4 City & County Leaders Share Performance Management Tips
There’s compliance, and then there’s going above and beyond to drive real change. A recent interactive panel discussion held on October 23 at the 103rd International City and County Management Association (ICMA) Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas featured four city and county government leaders who are leveraging performance management strategies to achieve big goals and make a meaningful impact in their communities.
Fulton County’s Cultural Revolution
As the largest county in Georgia, Fulton County is home to about one million residents and 5,000 county employees. After hiring a new county manager in 2015, Fulton went through a “cultural revolution” by developing a new and improved performance management system for internal programs. To launch the system, Chief Strategy Officer Anna Roach sought input from various perspectives and facilitated strategy groups with frontline employees to define county goals and strategic plans.
Today, Fulton County partners with Socrata to manage performance internally and has launched a public dashboard that encourages citizens to access raw data. The county plans to offer open data across all government services in the near future. Roach also notes that Fulton hopes to create an open data platform for all 15 cities within the county.
One of the ways Fulton County has achieved such a high level of success with performance management is through a dedication to cross-functional collaboration. Strategy and performance management are always discussed during team meetings to identify ways to translate data into a compelling story. What’s more, Fulton County implemented a $5 million innovation fund to encourage departments to work together on data-driven strategies that will achieve county goals and solutions.
Fort Lauderdale’s Strategic Vision
For the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, performance management follows a “plan, do, check, act” strategy to ensure teams across all departments are following a streamlined plan to achieve goals. As Structural Innovation Manager, Kristin Tigner leads an eight-member team that manages performance management for the entire city. To define priorities and action plans, Tigner and her team work with all city departments to create core processes and initiatives. They’ve also created an ISO certified structure that includes quarterly and annual management reviews.
The city has carefully developed long-term plans, like the “Fast Forward Fort Lauderdale” vision plan for 2035 and “Press Play Fort Lauderdale,” a five-year strategic plan. To tackle all of the long-term goals, Fort Lauderdale breaks up the vision plan priorities into chunks and commissions annual action by management teams.
According to Tigner, communicating the value of performance management to internal teams is all about storytelling: “How can we tell your story with your data, regardless of your position.” She notes that implementing a process to help teams at all levels find meaningful information in data is essential.
Collaboration for Continuous Improvement in the City of Austin
While Austin, Texas, has had performance programs in place since the 1990s, the city officially created the Office of Performance Management just two years ago, serving 14,000 city employees. According to Kimberly Olivares, Austin’s Chief Performance Officer, Austin is now in the midst of a cultural shift focused on performance, data, accountability, and developing strategies that will achieve quality outcomes for the community.
To get there, Austin is focused on three core areas: strategic planning, process improvement, and performance and analytics. All strategic outcomes fall into defined categories, including economic opportunities and affordability, safety, cultural and learning opportunities, mobility, health, and government that works for all of us.
With more than 2,000 performance measures, Austin takes a human-centered approach to their strategic plan that requires cross-departmental communication. Olivares and her team get departments involved in strategic outcomes by making it a personal, engaging experience. Case in point: employees develop departmental plans themselves with strategic outcomes teams, and through administrative coordination, are able to see what portion of their department funds are impacting the outcomes.
Olivares points out that getting and keeping teams engaged is all about communication and real examples. She explained that being mindful of an employee’s line of sight — whether it’s the city manager or a truck driver — is crucial to show each team member how they impact the community. Using real examples (i.e., here is how a process improvement made a difference on our community) is an effective way Austin reinforces that communication and keeps everyone invested in the city’s long-term strategic outcomes.
The City of Henderson Makes Data Personal
In the city of Henderson, Nevada, performance management is all about people who are passionate about leveraging data in meaningful ways. In fact, the city’s mayor is known to hand out plaques that read, “If you don’t have data, it’s just your opinion.” To implement a performance management system that meets the demands of 16 different city divisions, Henderson developed the Henderson Strong strategic plan, which aims to establish the city as “America’s premier community.”
Laura Shearin, Henderson’s Business Administration Manager, turned to city employees to define what “premier” means to them, and then used that feedback to create six internal criteria: data-driven, efficient, financially resilient, high customer satisfaction, high employee engagement, and high resident quality of life. In this way, each employee can determine how their actions are contributing to a premier community. The criteria has also been incorporated into the Henderson’s budget process to keep departments accountable and funding aligned with achieving targeted goals.
Shearin explains that communication and teamwork have been crucial while embarking on Henderson’s culture change. Her team holds monthly director-level meetings where departments share and discuss data, identify shared challenges, and then come up with solutions. That communication has also led to the use of visualizations of data and benchmarking at more branches of the organization, such as how many potholes were completed today.
To be effective, Shearin notes that performance management has to come down to the people. “If you’re measuring it just to measure it, don’t waste your time,” she says. In other words, it needs to be embedded in real-life situations and enrich daily operations, as it has in Henderson, to be truly effective in the long run.
Download Socrata’s Government Performance Measurement Guide for a look at the steps required to define and measure your goals.