Toyota, Motorola, FedEx — as different as their products may be, they share at least one secret ingredient: an investment in training their employees to become leaders, and to learn critical, creative problem-solving skills.
Why, then, doesn’t the public sector invest as deeply in supporting the evolution and advancement of its workforce?
It’s the question at the heart of this installment of How to Really Run a City, the acclaimed Citizen podcast co-hosted by former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Citizen co-founder Larry Platt. This episode welcomes Brian Elms, the CEO and Founder of Change Agents Training, which focuses on creating employee-driven innovation programs around the country.
Elms gained notoriety when then-Denver Mayor Michael Hancock hired him as the city’s Director of Peak Academy and Analytics. As Director of the Peak Academy, he developed curriculum, training, and consulting services that focused on employee-led performance management and continuous improvement. Peak Academy initiatives saved the City and County of Denver more than $37 million and the Academy has provided training to more than 8,000 public and nonprofit professionals. He’s gone on to take Peak Academy to about 50 other cities and is the author of the book, Peak Performance.
Some of Elms’ proudest accomplishments? Seeing applicants for business licensees getting their paperwork done — in eight minutes (imagine!). And helping a Denver man get his EBT card on the spot — compared with the six days that process previously often took. “He’d packed a lunch — he was prepared to stay all day,” Elms shares.
Employees, Elms says, come into workplaces with knowledge, yes — but, understandably, they don’t always know how to implement that knowledge in bureaucracies like governments and large public service agencies. Empowering workers to improve processes and deliver better services, Nutter says, leads to the kinds of moments that make you remember why you came into public service in the first place: to directly impact people’s lives. Of the man who received his EBT card on the spot, Nutter says, “I’m sure he will never forget that someone helped him that day.”
For more about how Elms and his team transform organizations’ productivity and processes — and to get the scoop behind that time Mayor Nutter threw out the first pitch at a Phillies game in 2008 — listen to the newest episode here, then check out the episodes you may have missed.
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