Managing a Small Community

Too Little Time to Wear All Those Hats?

Let strategy help you find the right fit

by Douglas Schulze and Thomas Terry

Who knew that fueling an airplane was a skill a local government manager should have? One author of this article (that would be me, Doug!) discovered this during the first few weeks as a brand new city administrator in a small rural city, population 2,200.

One evening early in my tenure the telephone rang while I was having dinner with family members. My wife answered the phone and, after a brief moment, informed the caller he must have dialed a wrong number. The man insisted he had the correct number, so I talked with him.

Much to my surprise, the caller said he was at the municipal airport and needed fuel for his airplane. I found out that my name and telephone number were posted at the office as the contact for fuel!

This example shows that serving as a manager of a small community can often mean working with limited time, resources, staff, and in-house expertise. The job requires unique perspective, skills, flexibility, and willingness by both manager and staff to wear many hats.

The ability to meet the needs and expectations of residents may be enhanced by employing such commonsense and effective strategies as establishing priorities, providing policy perspectives for elected officials, providing professional development for the manager and staff members, collaborating, contracting and outsourcing, and using volunteers and interns.

Here’s a closer look at the strategies that smaller community managers can use to handle everything that needs to be done.

Continue reading: Too Little Time to Wear All Those Hats?