Management Things We Never Tell

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The Public Productivity and Performance Handbook

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Congratulations friend, you just got a promotion to middle management! You are about to begin one of the hardest jobs in the world. A colleague of mine liked to equate mid-level managing in the public sector with being the head of a group of people who shovel garbage for a living. The job is to grab a shovel and make sure everyone around you is shoveling as much garbage as possible. On top of shoveling garbage, you are about to become coach, commander, and counselor of dozens, maybe hundreds of garbage shovelers. With the proper Performance Management approach, heading a team of public servants can be the most rewarding work of your life. But it won’t be easy. Do you know how hard it is to move garbage every day? Do you have the discipline and stamina to stick with it? Do you have enough shovels for your team? Are you ready? No, really, are you ready? Because you are about to shovel a ton of garbage. After years of working for the City and County of Denver, I sought to expand my impact around the country with the Change and Innovation Academy. I’m writing this chapter to help public servants discover ways to become successful managers, supervisors, or executives from a performance standpoint. There are thousands of books about leadership, yet only a few on management. However even fewer, if any, address working in the public sector, let alone working in mid-level management. The aim of this chapter is to present valuable learnings gathered from first-hand experience plus the wisdom of extraordinary mid-level managers who found ways to make garbage shoveling a dream job. This is the guidance I wish I’d had when I took my first leap into mid-level management. This chapter will provide insights into the world of shovels, shoveling, working with others to shovel, and how to keep shoveling forward.

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