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 Welcome  to  Voices  in  Local  Government,  an  ICMA  podcast.  My  name  is  Joe  Superville  and  today  we're  trying  out  a  new  format.  Instead  of  a  deep  dive  on  one  topic,  our  guests  will  offer  ideas  and  advice  on  real -world  local  government  dilemmas  about  careers,
 dynamics  with  co -workers,  residents,  even  politicians,  kind  of  people  problems  that  can't  always  be  fixed  by  technical  knowledge.  And  situations  and  solutions  are  unique,  so  we're  not  trying  to  solve  your  exact  problem,
 this  is  we're  trying  to  get  the  audience  to  think  about  what  options  they  have  or  what  might  be  the  next  best  step  for  them  to  figure  out  their  unique  case.  You  can  also  play  long  at  home  by  kind  of  thinking  about  how  you'd  answer  these  if  a  colleague  or  friend  asked  you  for  the  same  type  of  professional  advice  and  if  you've  got  a  great  angle  or  idea  that  we  didn't  cover  email  us  at  podcast @icma .org  and  we  may
 share  it  next  time.  Also  send  us  your  questions.  All  messages  will  stay  anonymous.  So,  here  to  answer  three  questions  are  Catherine  Caffrey,  principal  and  founder  of  NavVis  Consulting  and  longtime  deputy  city  manager  of  Cedar  Park,
 Texas,  and  Jeff  Jenkins,  deputy  city  manager,  city  of  Taylor,  Texas.  Welcome.  Hi,  Joe.  Thanks  for  having  us.  Thanks,  Joe.  All  right.  We're  going  to  get  right  into  the  three  questions.
 Question  number  one.  And  this  is  a,  this  is  a  big  one  that  you  might  have  some  experience  with  recently.  When  do  I  know  it's  time  to  leave  my  organization  for  other  opportunities  or  am  I  better  off  sticking  around  and  seeing  what  opens  up?
 Jeff,  you  want  to  start?  All  right.  I'll  give  this  one  a  try,  Joe.  Joe,  how'd  you  get  your  last  name,  by  the  way?  Super,  super  bill.  I  mean,  that  is  a  cool  last  name.  Thank  you.  It's,
 uh,  it's  super  velling.  It's  mispronounced  and  misspelled  all  the  time  because  there's  the  X  for  you  before  that  I'm  so  I'm  feeling  like  a  super  city  manager  now.  Maybe  No,
 great  great  question.  Yeah,  I've  been  in  city  management  for  about  20  years  I  started  off  in  the  small  cities  and  kind  of  worked  my  way  up  to  larger  cities  and  I  Just  I  just  think  that  in  general  you  just  got  a  kind  of  look  at  what  your  career  goals  are.
 What  do  you,  as  far  as  growth  and  opportunity,  when  I  was  younger,  I  said,  well,  I  don't  want  to  work  out  in  more  of  a  rural  environment.  I  wanted  to  work  in  your  metro  area,
 but  you  have  to  take  some  of  those  opportunities  that,  that  to  build  that  experience.  And  so  that's  where  I  started  off.  I  actually  started  in  the  Texas  Panhandle.
 and  then  worked  my  way  Dallas  Metroplex  and  now  in  the  Austin  Metro.  So  that's  one  thing  is  what  are  your  career  goals?  What  are  you  thinking  as  far  as  growth?
 And  then  how's  your  job  satisfaction  level?  I  mean,  are  you  having  the  Sundays  every  Sunday?  I  mean,  that's,  and  then  you're  having  the  Mondays  every  Mondays,
 you  know,  like  the  movie.  So  I  look  at  things  like  that.  mean,  it  should  be  a  lot  more  irregular  When  that  happens,  but  we  all  have  it  happen  from  time  to  time.  Are  you  enjoying  the  projects?
 You  know,  like  here  in  Taylor  I've  got  to  do  some  really  cool  projects  and  working  with  the  cool  team  that  we  have  on  board  here  And  it  just  it  just  makes  the  makes  the  job  exciting  all  the  Impact  one  example,
 I'll  give  Fred  Curley  he  actually  is  an  Olympic  medalist.  I  got  to  work  on  a  project  where  it  was  a  mural  on  one  of  our  water  towers  here  in  town  and  that  was  just  really  cool  getting  to  put  that  together,
 talk  to  his  agent  Monaco  trying  to  get  you  know  get  that  set  up.  So  that's  another  area.  How's  your  family  doing?  You  know  is  your  family,  are  they  are  there  opportunities  for  them?
 Because  they're  on  this  journey  with  you  and  it  can  be  very  hard  to  move  people  around  and  So  how  are  they  doing?  You  know,  there's  some  opportunities  to  build  and  being  in  a  community  That's  one  thing  here  in  Taylor.
 My  wife  really  enjoys  some  of  the  some  of  the  folks  she  interacts  with  on  a  Daily  basis  and  stories  she  hears  and  some  of  the  fun  she  gets  to  have  with  with  some  of  those  folks  and  then  a  couple  other  points  Opportunities  in  this  field.
 There's  there's  some  opportunities  they  don't  come  along  every  day  so  if  you  are  thinking  about  you  know  hey  i  would  like  to  work  for  this  town  or  you've  targeted  certain  places  they  come  open  you  know  you  should  explore  that  opportunity  because  they  don't  come  or  come  across  and  you're  wanting  that  opportunity  to  to  be  the  leader  for  that  group  um  you  should  you  should  explore  it  and  then  lastly  um  i  would  say  just
 kind  of  your  overall  job  satisfaction.  How  are  you  feeling?  You  know,  is  it  something  again,  are  you  excited  about?  And  I  tell  you  what,  I  built  a  help  build  the  team  here  in  Taylor,
 and  it  just  gets  gives  me  every  week  you  get  to  keep  me  going.  I'm  just  so  excited  just  to  get  a  chance  to  interact  and  work  with  them  and  our  council.  And  that's  that's  that's  part  of  the  fun  for  me.
 Catherine,  what  do  you  think?  Yeah,  I  mean,  I  feel  like  when  I  was  directly  managing  people,  I  would  get  this  question  all  the  time,  especially  from  sort  of  early,
 I  mean,  I  guess  I'll  talk  about  kind  of  early  and  mid  career  folks  first,  and  then  I'll  talk  about  senior  level  people  after  because  a  that  really  affects  me.  And  I've  just  gone  through  that  as  a  senior  level  person.  But,
 you  know,  I  think  some  of  those  folks  that  are  maybe  in  their  first  10,  12  years  of  their  career,  this  is  a  really  common  kind  of  thing  they  tackle.  So  they,  you  know,  they've  been  in  the  job  for  a  couple  of  years,
 they  want,  they're  very  ambitious,  they're  very  motivated  to  keep  moving  up  in  their  career.  And  sometimes  there  can  be  this  sense  of  like,  am  I  moving  up  fast  enough?  Or  are  things  going  pace  they're  supposed  to  go  for  my  career?
 And  I  think  a  couple  of  things  like  a  piece  of  advice,  I  got  one.  when  I  was  early  in  my  career  and  sort  of  facing  this  was,  do  you  feel  like  your  organization  is  on  the  way  up  or  not?
 You  know,  Jeff  sort  of  mentioned  that  with  like,  you  know,  are  you  enjoying  it?  Are  the  projects  good?  Obviously,  all  cities  are  great,  but  we  also  know  some  cities  are  really  on  kind  of  this  upward  trajectory.
 For  whatever  reason,  something's  happening  in  their  community  that  like,  there  are  a  lot  of  exciting  things  happening.  or  they're  in  the  midst  of  it  and  then  there's  definitely  other  places  that  maybe  that  isn't  the  case  or  maybe  it's  you  know  a  a  downtime  or  something  and  so  I  think  my  first  question  to  that  person  would  be  do  you  feel  like  your  organization  is  on  the  way  up  or  not  and  if  it  is  on  the  way  up  you
 might  want  to  like  kind  of  cool  your  jets  on  the  patience  part  and  and  really  like  be  a  little  more  patient  and  and  and  see  how  things  are  really  going  and  Then  the  other  thing  I'd  say  is  that  you  know  have  others  in  your  organization  moved  up  Do  you  see  other  people  in  the  other  people  in  the  organization  who  had  one  job  and  then  you  know  had  internal  Opportunities  to  move  forward  or  not  is  there  a  culture  of
 that  some  places?  That's  really  common  some  places  There's  just  really  a  preference  for  always  hiring  external  and  so  I  think  that's  sort  of  a  good  thing  to  take  into  mind.  And  then  the  last  thing  I'd  say  is  like,  does  this  organization  feel  like  a  fit  for  you?
 'Cause  I  definitely  have  come  across  people  earlier  in  their  career  who  are  maybe  trying  to  like  force  whatever  that  phrase  is,  like  a  square  peg  into  a  round  hole  or  whatever.  And  if  they're  really  honest,
 I  don't  know  if  this  is  the  place  they  wanna  be.  And  so  I  think  just  kind  of  having  that  like  honest  check  with  yourself  is  pretty  important.  - Can  I  ask  a  question?  that  followed  there  though?  Yeah,  go  ahead.  You  mentioned  motivated  or  ambitious.
 How  do  you  figure  out  that  versus,  well,  that  person's  just  entitled  or  impatient  and  they're  expecting  to  move  up  or  get  this  promotion  or  whatever  it  might  be  earlier  and  they  might  feel  justified  and  though,
 yeah,  the  work's  good,  but  hey,  from  the  manager's  point  of  view  or  the  ACAO,  yeah,  they're  on  the  right  track,  but  they're  not  there  yet.  And  that's  not  an  easy  conversation  either.  How  do  you  how  do  you  judge  that?  How  do  you  communicate  that?
 I  think  that  really  is  the  fit  component  because  I  definitely  would  have  employees  who  are  just  that  situation  and  sometimes  there's  this  hesitation  from  managers  and  I  get  it  because  it's  a  hard  conversation  to  have  to  be  really  direct  with  somebody  but  over  the  years  I  found  kind  honesty  was  worth  a  lot  more  than  when  I  would  kind  of  beat  around  the  bush  with  some  employee.
 So  I  think  it  really  is,  if  I  was  that  manager,  I  think  you  have  a  responsibility  to  that  employee  if  they're  asking  you  in  an  honest  and  genuine  way  to  be  candid.  Do  you  see  a  place  for  them  in  the  organization  or  do  you  not?
 Or  if  you  do  see  a  place  for  them,  is  it  maybe  in  this  area  that  they  were  kind  of  thinking  it  was  gonna  be  this?  You  know,  I  think  something  that's  really  common.  common  and  it's  different  everywhere,  but,  you  know,
 there's  a  lot  of  people  that  want  to  go  into  city  management  that  doesn't  necessarily  mean  maybe  necessarily  they  should  be  in  city  management  at  every  organization,  you  know,
 places  are  different,  like  what  the  culture  is,  what  the  norms  are.  And  so  yeah,  I  think  there  really  does  have  to  be  this  responsibility  if  you're  that  employee  with  that  ambition  to  ask  and  ask  for  honest  feedback,
 but  then  also  be  prepared  to  kind  of  hear  it.  And  if  you're  a  manager,  do  that  employee  a  favor  and  give  them  that  feedback.  Where  are  they  good?  Where  are  they  maybe  struggling?  Do  you  see  a  place  for  them?
 Is  it  just  a  matter  of  time?  Or  is  it,  man,  I  don't  know  if  we're  the  right  spot  for  you?  And  that's  not  necessarily  just  for  the  annual  performance  evaluation,  right?  That's  a  kind  of  thing  that  should  be  ongoing  so  everyone  can  hopefully  be  on  the  same  page  and  then  it's  not  so  jarring  if  the  answer  is.
 Harsh  or  the  reality  is  harsh.  Yeah,  I  would  agree  with  I  would  add  to  that  And  I  agree  totally  with  that  is  it's  great  to  reach  out  to  mentors  or  others  in  the  field  that  you  can  bounce  some  of  these  things  off  of  I  I  really  appreciate  it  when  I  go  to  either  ICMA  or  TCMA  event  and  I'll  have  younger  managers  They'll  they'll  just  ask  me  a  question  or  hey,
 can  you  go  have  coffee  sometime?  Can  we  talk  about  this?"  Because  you  can  really  get  a  lot  of  good  guidance  on  maybe,  "Am  I  on  the  right  track?"  Maybe  what  are  some  areas  I  can  improve  upon.
 I  also  felt  earlier  in  my  career  that  I  saw  it  as  an  adventure.  I  wanted  to  go  to  those  small  towns  that  people  didn't  think  could  be  managed.
 You  know?  And  ...  was  a  fun  adventure  for  me.  And  that's  another  thing  maybe  to  think  about  as  Katherine  was  alluding  to  on  fit,  you  know,  are  you  in  for  an  adventure  like  that?
 And  there  may  be  chances  that  you  progress  a  little  bit  faster  in  your  career  because  you  went  out  for  those  adventures  because  people  will  see  that  and  go,  hey,
 you  know,  I  may  want  to  hire  this  person  today.  an  ACM  for  my  larger  organization  because  of  some  of  these  things  that  this  person  did  early  on  in  some  tough  places."  The  hard  part  is  you  have  to  make  the  choices.
 Personally,  do  you  want  to  live  in  some  of  those  places?  Do  you  want  to  go  to  some  of  those  places?  And  that's  the  hard  part  for,  I  think  there's  a  expectation  for  some  folks  that,  "Hey,
 I  got  my  NPA.  I've  been  an  ACM  for  a  long  time."  know,  position  in  a  larger  city,  I'm  going  to  jump  to  the  CEM  or  the  ACM  really  quick.
 And  that's  not  reality.  There,  it's,  you  know,  it's  better  to  have  more  of  that  background  to  try  to  help  you  get  there  quicker.  That's,  that's  one  of  your  goals.  And  it  takes  time.
 Yeah,  I  mean,  that's  such  a  you  definitely  it  does  not  happen  as  quickly  as  some  people  think  it's  going.  Yeah.  Yeah.  Yeah,  yeah.  >>  And  then  I  think  like,  if  you  don't  mind,  I  want  to  sort  of  like  touch  on  people  later  in  their  career  who  was  sort  of,
 just  like,  A,  I  personally  just  made  this  career  going  well,  as  soon  as.  Yeah,  so  I  think  when  you're  later  in  your  career,  definitely  that's  where  the  stuff  Jeff  brought  up  about  your  family  really  comes  into  play.
 Earlier  in  my  career,  it  was  a  lot  easier  to  be  super  flexible  and  do  whatever.  And  then  you  get  to  a  place  in  your  life  where  maybe.  that's  a  little  harder.  So  I  think  the  what  I  am  learning  myself  as  someone  who  made  the  really  hard  choice  to  leave  Cedar  Park  after  16  years,
 it  was  a  great  organization,  great  gig,  love  those  people,  you  know,  it's  been  interesting  as  the  my  job  was  posted  and  people  would  reach  out  to  me  about  it  and  I'd  be  like,  it's  a  great  job,  you  should  definitely  apply.
 That  says  a  lot  about  them  and  you  I  think  that  that's  where  you're  at.  Yeah.  I  mean,  I  was  like,  you  should  definitely  apply  for  that  to  greater  organization.  But  I  think  sometimes  when  you're  later  on  in  your  career,  it's  okay  if  you  take  a  detour.
 You  know,  I  didn't  think  years  ago  I  would  go  do  consulting  or  start  my  own  consulting  practice.  That  was  definitely  nothing  I  ever  thought  of.  But  over  the  last  year  or  two  with  like  a  really  young  kid  and  a  husband  who  travels  a  lot  for  work,
 like  it  just  felt  like  this  was  a  good  choice.  And  I  do  want  to  like  mention  this  as  an  example.  A  few  weeks  ago,  I  had  lunch  with  Jeff  and  his  kind  of  like  counterpart,  his  other  assistant  city  manager  there,  Tom  Yantis.
 And  Tom  has  actually  had  this  career  where  he  has  done  stints  in  the  private  sector  and  public  sector  and  sort  of  gone  back  and  forth.  And  it  was  just  so  reassuring  and  helpful  to  hear  somebody  who  had,
 you  know,  showed  you  can  kind  of  do  both  and  go  back  and  forth.  And  it  was  just  so  reassuring  and  helpful  to  hear  somebody  who  had  done  stints  in  the  private  sector  and  public  sector  and  public  sector  and  public  sector  and  public  sector.  that  exit  is  more  important  than  your  entrance  in  many  ways  and  how  you  handle  it.
 But,  you  know,  you  never  know  what  the  future  is  going  to  hold  and  sometimes  like  life  makes  decisions  for  you  to  and  that  really  can  impact  what  you  decide  you  want  to  do.  All  right,  great  information.
 Let's  move  on.  question  number  two.  I've  been  the  ACAO  in  a  medium -sized  town  for  six  years.  Recently  they  created  a  new  second  ACAO  position.  The  new  hire  has  a  few  more  years  experience.
 The  exact  split  of  responsibilities  is  still  unclear  and  while  this  will  eventually  help  ease  my  workload,  I'm  tasked  with  training  this  person  who  will  likely  end  up  competing  when  the  CAO  position  eventually  becomes  open.
 How  do  I  balance  being  a  team  player  with  my  personal  goals?  Katherine,  you  want  to  start  on  this  one?  Yeah,  that  one,  I've  definitely  experienced  that  before  at  other  points  in  my  life,
 not  necessarily  an  ACM  role,  but  sort  of  a  somebody  new  enters  and  you're  like,  ooh,  they  might  be  better  than  me.  And  so  it  definitely  can  be  humbling,
 but  [BLANK _AUDIO]  think  this  is  an  opportunity  like  if  you  really  want  to  like  grow  as  a  human  and  be  the  person  you  should  be  you  should  really  always  want  the  very  best  people  to  be  at  your  organization  even  if  they  give  you  a  little  bit  of  like  a  run  for  your  money  and  then  especially  also  if  you're  you  know  this  example  sort  of  appear  but  even  when  you're  hiring  people  sometimes  you  will  especially  if  you're
 hiring  department  heads  or  something  I  mean  it's  not  uncommon  you  sort  of  get  this  rock  star  and  you  maybe  have  a  moment  of  like,  ooh,  what  is  this  gonna  mean  for  me?  But  really  the  right  thing  to  do  is  like,  the  more  rock  stars  in  your  organization,
 the  better  off  everybody  is.  And  I  think  that  if  you  feel  that  paying  of  like,  uh -oh,  what  if  now  I've  got  some  competition,  A,  you  don't  know  what's  going  on  really  in  that  person's  life  or  what  their  plans  are,
 so  don't  make  assumptions  you  don't  know  yet.  But  also  like,  focus  on  yourself.  you  know  I  feel  like  this  is  the  stuff  I  tell  my  seven -year -old  all  the  time  when  he  compares  himself  to  other  kids  but  it's  like  it's  true  focus  on  you  you  know  like  what  are  you  get  at  what  are  your  skills  what  are  your  strengths  what  are  your  relationships  like  in  the  organization  are  they  as  strong  as  they  can  be  you  know  focus  on
 you  and  then  focus  on  forming  a  relationship  with  this  new  person  because  you  have  no  idea  what  the  future  holds  but  your  career  is  better  off  and  your  whole  organization  is  better  off  with  the  more  like,
 you  know,  A  level  players  you  have.  What  do  you  think,  Jeff?  Have  you  come  across  this?  Well,  great.  I  mean,  great  question.  I've  experienced  it  as  well.  I  guess  a  little  background  on  myself.
 I've  taken  the  intergram,  and  I'm  an  achiever,  and  I'm  the  first  to  admit,  I'm  the  first  jealousy  tendencies.  I  have  some,
 I  hate  to  lose.  When  I  played  basketball  in  high  school,  I  was,  I  hated  to  lose.  Or  if  anybody  was  ahead  of  me  on  the  depth  chart,  I  was  just,
 how  can  I  change  that?  And  so  I've  really  had  to  work  on  that  over  time.  And,  you  know,  we  talked  about,  you  know,  when  you  hire  a  new,  ACM  tree,
 add  a  new  ACM,  and  I  know  when  we  first  hired  Tom  Yantas,  that  was  one  for  me  that  kind  of,  I  mean,  Tom,  I  think  we're  all  rock  stars  on  the  team  and  you  want  everyone  to  succeed.
 And  I  think  you  just  have  to  re -approach  that  with  a  positive  and  proactive  mindset.  I  mean,  with  Tom,  you  know,  he's,  I  think  in  the  years,  he  definitely  has  more  years.
 of  experience  and  a  lot  more  well -known  in  the  community  and  the  ICMA  world  and  development  community  than  I  am.  And  so  yeah,  at  first  you  have  a  little  bit  of  jealousy,
 but  you  got  to  reframe  that  and  re -approach  that.  Focus  on,  like  how  Catherine  was  saying,  focus  on  yourself  where  are  some  areas  is  that  I  can  improve  myself.
 to  make  myself  even  a  better  manager  or  a  person.  How  can  you  look  at,  you  know,  expanding  your  role?  Are  there  some  cool  projects  or  something?
 I  know  here  in  Taylor,  because  we're  smaller,  there's  gaps  sometimes  where  you  don't  know  who's  covering  that  component  or  that  area  of  work.  And  I'll  insert  myself  in  some  of  those  areas  or  expand  upon.
 some  things  we're  doing  so  that,  you  know,  it  helps  me  grow  as  an  employee  and  then  also  give  you  a  little  bit  more  security  in  your  position  because  you're  involved  in  a  lot  more.
 To  me,  I  like  to  work  on  collaborating  with  that  new  person  and  there's  ideas  sometimes  where  Tom  and  I  will,  like,  he's  thinking  one  thing  and  I'm  thinking  another.
 and  we'll  get  in  a  crisis  moment  that  we've  had  here  in  Taylor  and  we  collaborated  together  and  if  I  didn't  have  the  idea  and  he  didn't  have  the  follow -up  approach,
 it  might  not  have  worked.  So  I  think  in  the  end  it's  a  good  thing.  Definitely  understand  the  concern  of  the  question  but  reframe  it  to  a  positive  and  how  can  you  make  it  work  best  best  for  you  in  the  organization  because  if  you  focus  on  that  the  organization  will  see  it  and  your  your  superiors  will  see  what  you're  doing.
 Yeah  Jeff  I  like  that  honesty  because  there's  human  emotions  all  the  time  even  people  understand  well  you  obviously  can't  just  sabotage  or  be  negative  because  that's  going  to  make  it  worse  for  everyone  and  look  bad  on  you  no  one  would  do  that  well  hopefully  no  one  would  do  that  you  don't  have  to  just  dismiss  those  hesitations  Maybe  you  just  got  to  figure  out,
 as  you  said,  to  reframe  it  positively.  And  you  mentioned  basketball  and  the  competitive  spirit.  I'll  give  you  maybe  a  forced  sports  analogy,  but  if  the  manager  is  like  the  star  of  the  basketball  team,
 and  maybe  the  point  guard,  the  ball  has  the  ball  in  their  hands  all  the  time,  making  the  decisions,  and  you're  the  maybe  number  one  supportive  role,  having  that  second  or  now  third  person  on  the  team  is  an  adjustment  because  you  might  get  less  shot.
 you  might  get  this  you  might  get  that  but  if  you're  supporting  the  team  effort  and  the  wins  go  up  whether  it's  the  coach  or  the  owner  or  whatever  in  this  metaphor  it's  like  they  they  see  what  you're  doing  and  see  the  value  in  it  either  way  and  it  could  go  the  other  way  you  could  be  that  you  could  be  the  new  person  the  listeners  out  there  coming  in  with  a  title  that's  whatever  it  is  and  the  people  there  are
 thinking  like  alright  I'm  glad  to  have  some  some  more  support  around  here,  but  also,  uh -oh,  this  is  this  is  odd.  So  it's  also  maybe  on  that,  the  incoming  person  to  proactively  build  those  relationships.
 And  I  feel  like  no  matter  what,  there's  like  never  a  shortage  of  work  in  local  government.  So,  you  know,  when  Jeff  talks  about  reframing  it,  it's  also  like  another  set  of  really  capable  hands  to  help  you  with  probably  an  overflowing  amount  of  work  and  problems.
 and  projects.  I  mean,  I'd  rather  get  somebody  who  could  help  really  make  an  impact  on  workload  than  hiring  somebody  that  is  unqualified,  not  really  that  great  in  your  life.
 Yeah.  And  I  think  part  of  that  question  too  is  kind  of  hinting  at,  well,  I've  already  got  that  full  workload.  Adding  training,  formal  training  for  this  person  is  a  big  ask,
 but  hopefully  that's  an  investment.  for  the  whole  team  and  it  will  pay  off  later  as  you  can  then  start  focusing  on  what  you  want  to  and  where  you  can  contribute.  - The  other  thing  with  Tom,  great  manager,
 Tom  Yantis,  but  I  actually  wrote  this  last  year  along  with  our  communication  person,  an  award  for  him  to  be  assistant  of  the  year  in  the  state  of  Texas  and  he  actually  got,
 he's  gonna  get  awarded  that  in  June.  June.  So  that's,  you  know,  Tom's  getting  this  award  for  this,  this  recognition  and,  and  it  feels  really  good,  you  know,  knowing  that,  hey,
 I  helped  write  this,  this  award  and  he's  going  to  get  this  recognition.  Jeff,  I  feel  like  we  find  it  well  deserved  for  your  work  time.  So  either  we  should  tell  Tom  and  get  some  like,  we  probably  should  add  royalties  for  him  or  like  don't  tell  Tom  so  he  doesn't  like  may  have  these  people.
 out  of  podcasts  and  was  talking  about  how  great  I  am.  - First  of  all,  there's  no  money  in  this.  So  there's  no  royalties  to  be  shared.  And  second,  yeah,  this  might  just  make  the  approval  process  even  more  difficult  if  we  got  to  get  his  sign  off.
 It's  all  good  things  so  far.  And  this  is  also  a  good  opportunity  to  remind  the  audience,  so  far  we're  getting  a  lot  of  questions  from  guests  and  staff  and  I'm  writing  a  few,  but  we  want  questions  from  the  audience,
 but  that,  that  one  was  not  from  Jeff  that  story  just  worked  out  perfectly  the  way  the  way  he  had  that  and  how  it  worked  out  with  his  co -workers  there  so  it  was  not  a  planted  question.  No,  no.
 This  is  local  government  so  that's  how  it  goes.  All  right,  third  question  here  and  this  is  maybe  where  it  gets  a  little  a  little  dicey  with  the  council  but  the  question  reads  what's  the  best  way  for  an  ACAO  to  gain  experience?
 working  with  the  council  without  overstepping  the  CAO?  That's  the  question.  I'll  just  add,  I  know  there  might  be  different  policies,  different  places  where  it's  like,  don't  interact  at  all  versus  like,
 yes,  I  need  you  to  interact  because  I  can't  keep  up  with  all  this.  So  probably  case  by  case  on  just  if  you're  the  ACAO  or  anyone  underneath  department  head,  mid -level  person,  ask  maybe  first,  but  in  your  experience,
 Catherine  and  Jeff,  how  did  you  do  that?  the  council,  but  also,  again,  going  back  to  that  career  development,  how  are  you  gaining  that  experience  without  kind  of  just  pushing  too  far  as  you  in  the  future  maybe  want  to  move  up  to  the  top  seat?
 Yeah.  Catherine,  go  ahead.  Yeah.  This  is  one  I  mean,  I'm  sure  Jeff  has  dealt  with  also  his  fair  share  of  it  because  when  you're  sort  of  number  two  in  an  organization,  I  mean,  you  are  real  close.
 I  have  a  couple  thoughts.  One,  you  know,  you  sort  of  said  Joe  at  the  beginning  like  don't,  you  know,  you  don't  want  to  overstep  the  city  manager  or  the  city  administrator's  role  and  that  is  so  key.  Like  they  set  kind  of  the  practices  of  like  what  they  want  that  interaction  to  look  like.
 And  the  other  thing  that  I  think  is  important  to  remind  yourself  is  that  almost  always  the  city  manager  has  the  most  information  about  the  council  because  really  if  you  want  to  kind  of  get  yourself  to  be  well  viewed  by  the  council  and  show  them  what  you're  capable  of  doing  you  know  obviously  take  the  lead  from  your  manager  but  find  out  what's  important  to  the  council  and  then  raise  your  hand  to  go  work  on  that  right
 so  it's  like  that's  not  really  rocket  science  but  where  I  think  that  can  get  dicey  is  the  city  manager  will  know  well  yeah  maybe  that  one  person  is  talking  about  that  is  their  biggest  wish  and  goal  but  I  know  four  of  them  don't  want  to  work  on  it.
 So  like  knowing  those  unwritten  and  kind  of  hidden  dynamics,  you  could  get  yourself  into  a  really  bad  spot  if  you're  like  out  on  a  limb  thinking  you're  pleasing  the  council,
 but  you're  really  only  working  on  one  person's  pet  project.  And  so  I  think,  I  mean,  gosh,  being  in  lockstep  with  your  manager  on  what  a  council  member  said  to  you,
 what  they  asked  you  to  do,  and  that  manager  then  really  only  working  on  one  person's  pet  project.  let  me  calibrate  that  request  with  the  whole  group  and  what  I  know  are  kind  of  their  individual  pain  points  issues  dynamics  with  each  other  which  you  know  what  you  see  on  the  dais  is  never  really  what  the  real  dynamic  is  amongst  them.
 So  I  mean  I  think  at  base  level  if  you  want  to  sort  of  grow  in  council's  favor  work  on  things  that  are  high -profile  and  that  you  can  sort  of  show  your  contributions.  That  just,
 man,  you've  got  to  coordinate  with  that  city  manager  about  how  that  goes.  'Cause  I've  definitely  had,  in  my  experience,  times  where  maybe  a  council  member  just  would  approach  me  privately  about  something  and  they  don't  usually  do  it  out  of  like  malice  or  any  ill  intention.
 They  just  like  you  or,  you  know,  thank  you.  be  good  at  it,  but  you  have  to  really  step  delicately  or  you  can  get  into  such  a  bad  spot  with  those  relationships  there.
 Man,  I  could  go  on  and  on  about  council  relationships,  but  I'll  pause.  Jeff,  what  do  you  think?  You  hit  on  some  great  points,  Catherine.  I  mean,  there's,  yeah,
 I  think  with  our  city  manager,  Brian  LeBord,  we,  we,  he  likes  to  have  that.  and  it  starts  off  how  does  the  manager  want  to  approach  these  relationships  and  he  likes  to  have  open  dialogue  so  we'll  have  council  members  they  they  will  contact  me  or  or  him  or  or  or  ACM  and  even  double  Hartman  director  he's  fine  with  that  it's  just  keeping  that  that  loop  that  communication  loop  at  360  where  everybody's  in  the  next  So  if
 it's  something  that  comes  up  Like  Katherine  said,  they  mean  well  council  members  if  they're  wanting  to  step  into  something  that's  a  little  bit  too  far  You  know,  I  might  say  well,
 let  me  let  me  take  a  step  back  there.  Let  me  let  me  follow  up  on  that  one  you  know,  I  want  to  make  sure  leading  toward  the  Where  we're  wanting  to  go  as  far  as  the  goal  and  and  there  may  be  a  conversation  maybe  had  with  them  that  that  he  you  know  needs  to  let  me  know  and  we  do  that  pretty  regularly  he'll  come  in  my  office  and  I  think  we  had  it  even  yesterday  where  he  had  a  conversation  with  not  somebody  on
 council  but  something  I  was  working  on  that  he  was  like  hey  I  need  to  let  you  know  I  ran  into  this  and  and  then  we  we  collaborate  so  the  big  thing  is  support  and  the  city  manager  you  know  they're  they're  got  a  tough  job,
 you  know,  they  need  somebody  to  advise  them  on  approaches.  Someone  who  could  be  their  confidant.  I  mean,  there's  there's  times  where,  you  know,  you're  looking  around,  and  it  looks  kind  of  bleak  sometimes  in  our  field.
 But  at  the  end  of  the  day,  you  can  get  together  as  a  team.  And  you  can  conquer,  you  can  conquer  the  world  or  conquer  any  environment  working  together  as  a  team.  And  so  I  think  that's  that's  of  that  collaboration.
 And  then,  you  know,  again,  check  in  and  then  advocating.  That's  another  one  that  I  like  to  do  is  you  advocate  what  the  managers  approaches  are  or  what  the  team  approaches  is  and  then  try  to  build  that  trust  bond.
 Because  if  you're  able  to  build  that  trust  bond  with  counsel,  you  can  do  a  lot  having  trust.  I  mean,  you  can.  it's  like  our  currency  and  city  management  world  because  they  want  it  done  right  and  they  want  it  done  in  a  trustful  way  you  know  they  like  that  trust  environment.
 So  if  you  too  run  into  a  council  member  especially  in  the  smaller  towns  might  even  be  more  applicable  but  if  you  just  you  know  it  could  be  the  grocery  store  it  could  be  the  town  festival  whatever  it  is  even  even  the  even  just  the  hallways  in  there  Do  you  try  and  follow  up  that  next  Monday  or  that  next  work  day  with  an  email  or  some  type  of  something  to  get  it  on  the  record?
 So  it's  not,  well,  hey,  so,  you  know,  I  bumped  into  Catherine  and  she  said  X,  Y,  and  Z,  but  maybe  you  really  only  said  half  of  that  or  they  took  it  the  wrong  way.  How  do  you  balance  being  polite  and  personable  with  making  sure  it's  still  kind  of  by  the  book?
 I  think,  I  would  all  because  I  mean  I'm  sure  like  Jeff  you  do  see  them  all  the  time  if  I  just  saw  them  in  passing  and  it  was  just  that  chatting  about  whether  or  whatever  you  know  like  random  life  stuff  I  mean  I'd  maybe  like  mention  it  to  my  manager  but  like  no  big  deal  definitely  if  I  ever  got  something  substantive  or  that  and  the  council  doesn't  even  know  they're  doing  it  necessarily  but  like  if  anything  that
 kind  of  could  be  perceived  as  direction,  I  always  went  to  my  manager  and  told  her.  And,  you  know,  sometimes  she  would  then  have  the  really  uncomfortable  conversation,  you  know,  in  our  organization,
 she  really  liked  things  to  go  directly  through  her,  and  that  was  who  she  wanted  communication  to  go  to.  And  so,  you  know,  she  would  have  that  conversation  with  them  of  like,  hey,  heard  you  asked  this  person  to  do  this,
 I  prefer  to  be  like  this.  And  so  kind  of.  kind  of  like  report  her.  I  don't  know  if  I'd  necessarily  do  an  email,  but  I  just  'cause  you  don't  want  to  maybe  overly  formalize  it,  but  I  would  definitely  like  let  her  know  in  a  like  timely  fashion.
 And  I  think  also  like,  you  know,  I'm  sure  Jeff  will  jump  in  in  a  second,  but  also  what  can  happen  sometimes  with  counsel  that  gets  a  little  dicey  is  you  spend  so  much  time  with  them  and  the  relationships  can  feel  really  good.
 so  like  friend  ish.  But  it's  not,  you  know,  you're  not  friends,  you  work  for  whomever  is  elected.  And  that  can  be  very  jarring  for  the  council  member,
 you  know,  when,  when  elections  happen,  and  they  see  you  being  just  as  friendly  to  some  new  person  that  got  elected,  they  don't  like  as  you  are  to  them.  And  that  can  kind  of  put  you  in  an  odd  situation  too.
 So  I  think  just  being  really  treating  them  all  the  same,  your  justice,  you  work  for  whomever  is  elected,  being  just  as  friendly  is  really  important  'cause  I  feel  like  the  council  members  themselves  can  sometimes  think  the  relationships  are  more  personal  or  friendly  than  they  really  are.
 And  that  can  be  kind  of  an  odd  dynamic.  I  feel  like  it's  unique  sort  of  to  this  world.  Yeah,  I  would  agree  with  that.  Yeah,  I'm  a  very  friendly  person  and  I  get  a  lot  of  that.
 And  again,  that  goes  along  with  trust,  building  relationships.  I  mean,  you're  in  the  trenches  with  these  individuals,  you're  in  the  arena,  you  know,  like  the  Roosevelt  speech  with  them  all  the  time.
 And  so  it,  and  then  you're  answering  the  questions,  you're  going  to  events.  I'll  never  forget  one  time  I  went  to  an  event  and  I  was  surprised  they  still  had  it,  but  the  school  was  having  a  fundraiser  and  it  was  50  degrees  outside.
 The  wind  was  blowing  30  miles  an  hour  and  we  got  to  take  turns  in  a  dunking  booth  and  the  mayor  was  first  and  I  was  second.  And  yeah,  there  was  some,
 you  know,  some,  how  did  we  get  through  that  moment,  you  know,  afterwards.  afterwards?  I  think  I  broke  a  record  I  had  like  they'd  never  seen  I  was  egging  on  the  kids  I  was  telling  them  you  can't  you  can't  dump  me  and  I  ended  up  having  to  dump  like  40  to  50  times  and  I  Realized  I  I  don't  need  to  skip  leg  day  any  anymore  anytime  soon  But  but  so  you're  you're  in  those  kind  of  situations  with  them,
 you  know  and  and  you  know  you're  Given  speeches,  you  know  you're,  you're  doing  speech  writing  with  them.  And  so,  yeah,  to  me,  I  just  been  friendly  with  everyone,
 and  then  being  my  authentic  self,  I'm  going  to  give  the  recommendation,  no  matter  if  you're  my  friend,  or,  or  you're  on  Council,  I'm  going  to  give  you  guidance  how  I  see  it,
 and,  and  we'll  just  move  forward.  And  then  your  original  question  about,  you  know,  how  do  you  how  do  you  deal  with  them?  You  know,  if  you're  asked  a  question,  I  usually  don't  send  an  email.
 Usually  every  Monday,  we  have  like  a  update  meeting  and  we'll  talk  about  things.  If  it's  really  severe,  then  or  a  little  bit  more  constructive,  then  I  might  do  it  sooner,
 might  reach  out  with  a  phone  call.  But,  but  yeah,  we  have  little  check -ins  about  once  a  once  a  week.  And  it  depends  on  how  your  manager  Some  may  want  immediate,
 like  a  text  or  something,  or  maybe  something  that  it  can  wait  a  couple  of  days  if  it's  not  something  major.  Yeah,  so  it's  not  always  a  big  deal,
 just  kind  of  what  they're  expecting  and  then  when  the  time  is  right  to  say  anything.  But  I  always  imagine  the  hallways  of  town  hall  or,  again,  like  the  grocery  store.  So  meeting  the  mayor  or  other  electeds  at  a  dunking  booth  in  50  degree  weather  is  an  interesting  one.
 - Yeah,  yeah,  you're  just  like,  how  did  we  survive  this?  And,  you  know,  yeah,  yeah,  it's--  - Well,  that's  a  good  way  to  build  trust.  That's  a  real  conversation.  - When  you're  standing  there  freezing  wet.
 Maybe  like  politics  elsewhere.  So,  Catherine  Jeff,  thanks  for  your  advice  on  council  careers  and  everything  in  between.  Thanks  for  joining  us  today.  You  bet.  Thanks  for  having  us.
 Yeah,  thank  you,  Joe.  It  was  fun.



Have a workplace situation you are seeking or offering advice on? Send questions, topics, or guest interest to:


Katherine Caffrey, principal & founder, NAVIS Consulting, former ACAO

Jeff Jenkins, deputy city manager, Taylor, Texas


Three Question Local Gov Life Advice

(1:17) Question 1: “When do I know it’s time to leave my organization for other opportunities? Or am I better off sticking around and seeing what opens up?”

(13:49) Question 2: "I've been the ACAO in a medium-sized town for six years. Recently they created a new second ACAO position. The new hire has a few more years experience. The exact split of responsibilities is unclear. And while this will eventually help ease my workload, I'm tasked with training this person who will likely end up competing when the CAO position eventually becomes open. How do I balance being a team player with my personal goals?

(22:20) Question 3: "What’s the best way for an ACAO to gain experience working with council without overstepping the CAO"


email to send questions or ideas for the next Local Gov Life Advice.


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A new, reduced dues rate is available for CAOs/ACAOs, along with additional discounts for those in smaller communities, has been implemented. Learn more and be sure to join or renew today!