Tempe City Manager Blog update

updated December 5, 2011:  Charlie Meyer – City Manager

 Annual Employee Holiday Open House
I would like to invite each and every one of you to the Annual Employee Open House at City Hall on Thursday, December 8 from 9:00 – 11.00 a.m. We will celebrate with beautiful music and always terrific refreshments in a fruitcake free zone. We will again hold a food drive and for each item that you bring you will receive an additional raffle ticket and it sounds like we have great prizes again this year. The best part of the open house is the chance to meet up with coworkers that you may not have seen for a while and share a little holiday cheer.

There are a couple of unauthorized food competitions going on this year including a cookie bake off and a guacamole mud wrestling contest. I’m not sure that competition is quite in the holiday spirit of peace on earth etc. but the food should be great.

Unfortunately we know that it is not possible for everyone to make it to the Open House so we would encourage you to have your coworkers bring back some goodies for you.

Whether you can be here or not I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the great work that you do every day and express my appreciation for the positive attitude with which you approach serving our community.

This past week I had the opportunity to meet with the leadership of the new United Arizona Employee Association (UAEA) for what we call our “Chat with Charlie.” We use my favorite format for a chat by having those present ask questions and I answer. We had a wonderful and spirited discussion about a broad range of topics. There was one theme that came up about how we know we are valued in the work that we do especially when we see a lot of government employee bashing going on these days. That theme is worth pursuing.

It’s no fun to bust your hump serving people all day if you don’t feel valued in what you are doing. So how do we find that value? It is partly about compensation. Looking at compensation as the way to feel valued has been hard to come by lately in many lines of work. Recently I received an anonymous message from a City employee who was taking great exception to a comment I made about staff has the fun of implementing the strategic priorities City Council recently set. The writer said more work is not fun and also added the following comment,

“Most of us enjoy working for the City, and realize that cuts had to be made. Most of us come to work to provide for our families. We want fair pay, good benefits, a clean and safe work station, good tools and equipment to get our jobs done, proper training, to be treated fairly, and to be given equal opportunities.”

I wish that the writer had the confidence to use their name because I found value in the comments. I believe we do have basic needs that have to be met and that the City of Tempe has tried in the past and will continue to strive to provide those very things. But then the conversation with the leadership group progressed to asking if there could be opportunities to try different kinds of work within the City. We talked about learning new things and growing. I believe that most of us want to stretch our minds and take on changes that help us grow. I, for one, am often guilty of saying “I’ve seen this situation before.” The risk in that is not seeing things as they are but through a limited lens. However, I can get real excited about saying “This is a completely new situation, I’m going to have to learn about this.” We should find ways to help people who want to stretch.

We also talked about one supervisor who thanked all of her employees at the end of the day for their efforts. Doesn’t seem like such a big deal but it sure was to the person that made the comment. While it is important for supervisors to know how far a little “thank you” can go, we can all support one another with a simple acknowledgement.

One thing I know for sure is that most of us come to work every day with a very strong sense of the good that we do in the community. We might be working in the Courts and be loaded down with work but underneath all of that is also a sense that we are preserving a system of justice in our little corner of the world. We might be up to our keister in mud while fixing a water main but we know that we are also preserving a sense of safety and health for the people that depend on that water. We are fortunate enough to be able to see the good that comes from our work.

Thank you for your efforts today, you are our greatest asset.

Tempe creates outstanding value for those we serve through shared vision, superior service and sustainable practices.

Charlie Meyer