Public Sector: Resolving Township
Highway Department Conflict

The client is an incorporated township in a metropolitan area.

Case Studies

Problem

Dissension; past mistrust and continued angry feelings; lack of direction and communication; and conflicts wasted time and dollars estimated to cost at least $800.00 per week (or in excess of $41,000 annually) per township leaders.

Solution

1. Input from all concerned. After meeting with township leaders to agree on objectives and a plan, interviews were conducted with members of the highway department.

2.  An immediate change in several procedures were recommended, including establishing a clear and consistent channel for employee concerns to be expressed to the department supervisor and township leaders. This replaced an existing process of individuals “politicking” with one or more selected township leaders to make their case, creating confusion and inconsistencies in direction and decision-making.

3.  A training and coaching program was developed and implemented with the highway department’s supervisor, and conducted over a period of months. Training included a package of communication skills targeted to resolve the issues identified. The supervisor continued to receive coaching, training, and skill reinforcement as he worked with his department.

4. The highway department’s employees and supervisor participated in several group training sessions to improve rapport and trust; communication skills; resolve concerns; and develop a new internal “working agreement” about how they’d work together in the future.

5.  Follow up interviews were again conducted with highway department members; the supervisor; and township leaders as a post-test. Several additional wrap up sessions were conducted.

Results

> The highway department now works as a unified team instead of a divided one; employees work more agreeably and cooperatively.

> All members of the department, who have substantial job knowledge and abilities, were retained.

> Concerns are addressed (and resolved earlier and more effectively), through a clear channel of communication and command.

> Township leaders and the highway department superintendent now hold regular meetings to discuss potential issues and concerns; upcoming projects; and new equipment purchases, providing more direction and focus downward.

> The township continues to save money with a highway department that functions more effectively.

 Free people to communicate & do more productive work.

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