The success of the strategy for delivering customer service excellence here in Dover is dependent upon a specific set of management attributes aligned around our municipal organization’s core values. They are embedded within the framework’s systematic processes which, in turn, yield intended performance results. These attributes are consistently evident in high performing organizations and have been proven to be essential requirements in a results-oriented strategic management framework.
The figure below illustrates the relationship between core values, management attributes and our strategic management framework’s systematic processes and results:
Our city's senior leaders, including the Mayor, City Councilors, City Manager, and Department Heads, set directions and create a customer focused orientation, clear and visible values, and high expectations. The directions, values, and expectations of our leaders balance the needs of all stakeholders in our municipal operations. Our organization’s leaders ensure the creation of strategies, systems, and methods for achieving excellence, stimulating innovation, and building knowledge and capabilities. These strategies and values guide all activities and decisions throughout the municipal organization. Our senior leaders are committed to the development of the entire work force and encourage participation, learning, innovation, and creativity by all employees.
Through ethical behavior and personal involvement in planning, communications, review of organizational performance, and employee recognition, our senior leaders serve as role models, reinforcing values and expectations and building leadership and initiative throughout the municipal organization.
Pursuit of performance excellence requires our senior leaders and the entire municipal organization to have a strong future orientation and a willingness to fulfill long-term commitments to key stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, taxpayers, the public, and the community at large. Our municipal organization anticipates many factors in strategic planning efforts, such as customers' expectations, new service opportunities, technological developments, evolving regulatory requirements, community/societal expectations, and economic changes. Short- and long-term plans, strategic objectives, and resource allocations reflect these influences. Major components of such a long-term commitment include developing our employees and suppliers to anticipate service requirements demanded by the public today while adjusting to accommodate that which is sustainable into the future.
Our local government organization emphasizes efficiency in order to continuously evaluate and eliminate inefficient and wasteful practices. Pursuing operational efficiency contributes greatly to building an “ever-improving” quality into the delivery of municipal services. Costs that may be associated with efficiency improvements typically pay for themselves in operational savings realized over time. Accordingly, our municipal organization emphasizes opportunities for identifying and implementing efficiency improvements. This approach can yield maximum cost benefits and takes great advantage of even the smallest of improvements or corrections in operational processes. Attention to efficiency also takes into account the involvement of our suppliers in contributing to the delivery of municipal services.
Our municipal organization’s success in delivering local government services demands faster and more flexible response to customer’s needs. Major improvements in response time often require automation of work practices and simplification of administrative processes. To accomplish this, the timed performance of work processes is among the key performance measures used throughout our municipal organization. Other important benefits are derived from this focus on time as time improvements often drive simultaneous improvements in organization, quality, cost, and productivity.
Achieving the highest levels of performance requires a well-executed approach to continuous improvement and learning. The term "continuous improvement" refers to both incremental and "break-through" improvements. The term "learning" refers to adaptation to change, leading to new goals and/or approaches.
Improvement and learning are "embedded" in the way our municipal organization operates. The term embedded means that improvement and learning: (1) are a regular part of daily work; (2) are practiced at individual, departmental, and city-wide organizational levels; (3) seek to eliminate problems at their source; and (4) are driven by opportunities to innovate and do better, as well as by problems that must be corrected. Sources of improvement and learning include: customer input; employee ideas; leading practice sharing; and benchmarking.
Improvement and learning include: (1) enhancing value to customers through new and improved services; (2) developing new service delivery opportunities; (3) reducing errors, defects, waste, and related costs; (4) improving responsiveness and service delivery time; (5) increasing productivity and effectiveness in the use of all resources; and (6) enhancing the organization's performance in fulfilling its public responsibilities and service to the community.
Thus, improvement and learning are directed not only toward improved services but also toward being more responsive, adaptive, and efficient – giving our entire municipal organization additional performance advantages.
Valuing Workforce Members and Partners
Our local government’s success depends increasingly on the knowledge, skills, innovation, creativity, and motivation of its work force. Employee success depends increasingly on having opportunities to learn and to practice new skills.
Our municipal organization invests in the development of the work force through education, training, and opportunities for continuing growth. Opportunities might include job rotation and increased pay for demonstrated knowledge and skills. On-the-job training offers a cost effective way to train and to better link training to work processes. Education and training programs utilize advanced technologies, such as computer-based learning and web conference broadcasts. Increasingly, training, development, and the organization of work units is being tailored to a diverse work force and to more flexible, high performance work practices.
Major challenges in the area of valuing employees include: (1) integrating human resource practices – selection, performance, recognition, training, and career advancement; (2) developing, cultivating, and sharing the organization's knowledge that is possessed by its employees; and (3) aligning human resource management with strategic change processes. Addressing these challenges requires use of employee-related data on knowledge, skills, satisfaction, motivation, safety, and well-being. Such data are tied to indicators of city-wide organizational and individual departmental performance, such as customer satisfaction, customer confidence, and productivity. Through this approach, our individual employee and team contributions may be better integrated and aligned with operational needs.
Our municipal organization builds upon internal and external partnerships to better accomplish the overall goals of our local government.
Internal partnerships include labor-management cooperation, such as agreements with unions relating to new compensation practices, employee development, cross-training, or new work organizations, such as high performance work teams. Internal partnerships also involve creating supportive and cooperative relationships among work units to improve flexibility, responsiveness, and knowledge sharing.
External partnerships are ongoing with customers, suppliers, other governmental agencies and educational organizations. An increasingly important kind of external partnership is the strategic partnership or alliance. Such partnerships might offer access to new products or services that would otherwise be unavailable to the organization and/or community. Partnerships also might permit the blending of our organization's core competencies or leadership capabilities with the complementary strengths, capacity and expertise of others, thereby enhancing overall capability, including speed, flexibility and technical ability. In some cases, joint education and training with partners offers a cost-effective method of developing our own employees.
Internal and external partners support longer-term objectives, thereby creating a basis for mutual investments. Key requirements for the success of our partnerships include establishing means of regular communication, approaches to evaluating progress, and expectations for adapting to changing conditions.
Quality is judged solely by our customers. Thus, quality must take into account all service features and characteristics that contribute value to our customers and lead to our customer's satisfaction.
Value and satisfaction may be influenced by many factors throughout a customer's experience with our municipal organization. These factors are greatly affected by our continuing efforts to foster the relationships with customers that serve to build trust, confidence, and pride.
Customer-driven quality addresses not only the service characteristics that meet basic customer requirements, but also includes those features and characteristics that positively differentiate our services from “mediocre” or “less than satisfactory” service experiences. Such differentiation is based upon new or modified offerings, combinations of service offerings, customization of offerings, rapid and accurate responses, and/or special relationships.
Customer-driven quality is thus a strategic concept, yet one which is difficult to measure using operational data. It is directed toward achieving customer respect, confidence, and overall satisfaction. It demands constant sensitivity to changing and emerging customer and community needs, and the factors that drive our customer's perceptions and civic pride.
Customer-driven quality demands awareness of developments in technology, and rapid and flexible response to customer and societal requirements.
Customer-driven quality means much more than reducing complaints, offering satisfactory service or achieving average results. Although these outcomes do contribute to our customers' view of quality and are therefore still important parts of customer-driven quality, it is also our organization’s success in recovering from errors or less than adequate services ("making things right for the customer") that is crucial to building positive customer relationships and customer confidence.
Our municipal organization's leadership is committed to fulfill its responsibilities to the public and practice good citizenship. These responsibilities refer to the basic expectations of – a commitment to ethics, the protection of public health, safety, and the environment, and enhancement of our community’s and region’s quality of life. Our municipal operations seek to prevent community problems from occurring, provide a rapid and effective response if problems occur, and make available information and support needed to maintain public engagement, safety, and comfort throughout problem solving.
Our municipal organization is committed to meeting all local, state, and federal laws and regulatory requirements, while treating these and related requirements as opportunities for continuous improvement "beyond mere compliance”.
Practicing good stewardship requires leadership and support – within the limits of our community’s resources – for publicly important purposes. Such purposes include public safety, education, infrastructure maintenance and economic development. It also includes environmental protections, resource conservation, community service and encouraging industry and business growth. Leadership as an organizational entity also entails interacting with other organizations, private and public, to partner for these purposes. For example, our municipal organization may coordinate, support and/or otherwise encourage individual persons or companies in their efforts to lead and accomplish community betterment projects.
Successful private sector enterprise depends upon the measurement and analysis of performance and so does our municipal organization. Such measurements are derived from strategic plans and provide critical data and information about key processes, outputs, and results. Many types of data and information are utilized for performance measurement and improvement. The performance areas analyzed are grouped into customer, process, governance, financial and workforce related measures.
Analysis refers to extracting larger meaning from data and information to support evaluation, decision-making, and operational improvement within our municipal organization. Analysis entails using data to determine trends, projections, and cause and effect – that might not be evident without analysis. Data and analysis support a variety of purposes, such as planning, reviewing overall performance, improving operations, and comparing performance with "leading practices" benchmarks.
A major consideration in performance improvement involves the selection and use of appropriate performance measures or indicators. The measures or indicators selected are those that represent the factors that lead to improved performance. A comprehensive set of measures or indicators are relied upon in evaluating the alignment of our municipal organization’s varied activities with our community’s vision and organizational goals. Through the analysis of data derived from the tracking processes, the measures or indicators themselves are evaluated and changed to better support the monitoring of such goals.
Our municipal organization's performance measurements focus on key results. Results are focused on creating and balancing value for all stakeholders – customers, employees, taxpayers, suppliers and partners, the general public, and the community as a whole. This requires that actions and plans meet differing stakeholder needs and avoid adverse impact on any stakeholders, as best as possible. The use of a balanced composite of performance measures offers an effective means to communicate short- and longer-term priorities, to monitor actual performance, and to marshal support for improving results that ultimately benefit the community and all stakeholders to some degree.
Our municipal organization utilizes a systems perspective for managing the organization and its key processes to achieve results.
The successful management of overall performance involves city-wide synthesis, alignment, and integration. Synthesis means looking at the organization as a whole and building on core competencies, strategic objectives, action plans, and work systems. Alignment means to ensure consistency of plans, processes, measures, and actions. Integration builds on alignment, so that all work units are tasked and operate in a fully interconnected manner to collectively deliver anticipated results.
A systems perspective includes our senior leaders’ focus on strategic directions and on customer’s needs. Senior leaders monitor, respond to, and manage performance based on results. A systems perspective includes using measures, indicators, core competencies, and organizational knowledge to support key strategies. It means linking these strategies with work systems and aligning resources to improve overall performance while focusing on the meeting the needs of customers and stakeholders.
Community vision, organizational mission and core values are essential elements embedded throughout the framework for performance excellence here in Dover. Included as part of the Community and Organizational Profile is our community’s vision reflecting the ideal quality of life to be achieved here in Dover and the municipal organization’s continuing mission in support of realizing that vision. To support our organization’s mission and achievement of our community’s vision, goals and objectives are established via strategic planning processes. Core values buttress these goals and objectives while also linking together and reinforcing all underlying operational decisions and actions.