"Our agency was asked to respond to a survey on transportation issues conducted by the Federal Highway Administration and ICMA. We haven't heard anything about the results. Can you help?"
The survey you refer to was a joint project of the National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and was, indeed, funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The purpose of the survey was to define a common set of performance measurements that could be used nationally to address three key transportation issues: (1) non-recurring congestion, (2) recurring congestion, and (3) system-wide performance. A wide range of issues was covered from customer satisfaction to travel time to extent of congestion, among others. It is hoped that the responses can be used for internal management, external communications, and comparative measurement to identify leading practices that can be shared among local governments and other transportation professionals. APWA has a representative to NTOC, Marshall Elizer, TN. The full list of the performance measures and instructions on how to measure the data needed can be found in the "National Transportation Operations Coalition (NTOC) Performance Measurement Initiative Final Report" at http://icma.org/main/ld.asp?ldid=19673&hsid=1&tpid=7.
"Like everyone else, we are losing several of our Baby Boomer employees. We have begun the replacement process but have met with some failures and setbacks. One has been that we have hired people who have good technical skills and expertise but they don't seem to make it in our organization more than a few months. Is anyone else having this problem?"
According to a study released by the Washington, D.C.-based leadership and training company Leadership IQ, 46 percent of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19 percent will achieve unequivocal success. Scary thought, isn't it? But the interesting fact is that the technical skills are not the primary reason new hires fail. Rather, poor interpersonal skills dominate the list; flaws that many of their managers admit were overlooked during the interview process. The study found that 26 percent fail because they can't accept feedback, 23 percent because they're unable to understand and manage emotions, 17 percent because they lack the necessary motivation to excel, 15 percent because they have the wrong temperament for the job, and only 11 percent because they lack the necessary technical skills.
What's the answer to this problem? The interview process usually fixates on ensuring that new hires are technically competent. But coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation, and temperament are much better predictors of a new hire's success or failure. Consider asking yourself this question when you prepare to interview: "Do technical skills really matter if the employee lacks drive, alienates coworkers, isn't open to improving, and has the wrong personality for the job?" These are among the very issues developed through the "Baker's Dozen" and "Baker's Menu" listing of Core Competencies. Often referred to as "soft skills," they are really the backbone of effective hiring. You can find the lists of the Core Competencies at www.apwa.net/about/TechSvcs/Leadership/.
"With all the threats of bad weather and pictures on TV of destruction all over the world, is there anyone doing anything to help our kids prepare for what might happen in an emergency?"
Actually, there is. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Advertising Council have launched "Ready Kids" to help parents and teachers educate children about emergencies. The new website features games and puzzles as well as age-appropriate, step-by-step instructions on what families can do to better prepare for emergencies and the role kids can play in that effort. The website is located at http://www.ready.gov/kids/. The site is designed to help ease kids' minds by having them help in planning for their safety should an emergency occur. It's a great site. While you may not consider this a public works issue, public safety and emergency response is definitely our issue. This could be a great resource for public works departments to send to schools and families that shows we are involved.
"I recently read an article referring to 'voice evacuation technology.' What is it and how could it impact the construction plans for our new city hall building?"
"Voice evacuation technology" has been around for several years but has been considered viable only for multi-story buildings or companies with multiple buildings in their system. It provides a "voice" which gives directions on how to evacuate the facility in the event of any number of different emergency situations. Once used mainly for fire evacuation, it can be used in the event of other hazardous conditions, including tornadoes, hurricanes, and even chemical spills. It is no longer just an important fire protection tool but is a general-hazard protection tool and should be considered as you plan for your new facility. The fire codes may not call for this level of protection but it has been proven that supplementing horns beeping and sirens flashing with a calm voice giving directions leads people in an organized and orderly fashion through an exit plan that is designed for the specific event that is taking place in the building. Ask your architect and planners to consider adding this to your health and safety requirements for your new structure.
Questions are welcome.
Please address all inquiries to:
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610