Suzie Price: [00:00:00]
Today, I'm talking with two leaders who are changing the world by confronting the challenges of local government. They're doing this work with nobility, service and excellence. This is an excellent episode because it impacts every one of us. The decisions that are made at local government impact our lives and our cities. They are doing good work that I know will inspire you. We're going to talk about how they're using TriMetrix. They're talking about how they make decisions and things that they do in their life. And it's inspirational and helpful on so many levels, and I can't wait to share it with you. Michael. Hit it.
Welcome to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast, a show designed for leaders, trainers and consultants who are responsible for employee selection and professional development. Each episode is packed full with insider tips, best practices, expert interviews and inspiration. Please welcome the host who is helping leaders, trainers and consultants everywhere. Suzie Price.
Suzie Price: [00:01:07]
And you are listening to the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast. And my name is Suzie Price. I am the founder of Priceless Professional Development and at the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast, we cover everything related to helping you and the employees in your organizations. Build a high commitment, low drama, wake up eager workforce. So that's what we want. We want high commitment. I'm engaged in the work. I'm enthused by the work. We want low drama, which means I have trust with the people I'm working with, the company I'm working for. I have belief in the mission and the vision, and all of that comes together to create a wake up eager workforce. We want to help leaders make good decisions about their people, make good decisions about everything they do in their work, and help you build that kind of environment. We focus on helping build that environment by using different tools that help employees throughout the employee life cycle for hiring, onboarding, team building, leadership development, succession planning and conflict resolution. And today is episode 96. It'll be 96 and 97. So there's part one and part two. The title is Confronting the Challenges of Local Government with Nobility, Service and Excellence. We're going to talk about the challenges in local government and how that impacts all of us. So you might be surprised at the level of challenge that the governments that are running our cities are faced with. We're going to learn about T2 Professional Consulting, and their company is focused on helping local governments and how they are using TriMetrix, which is a tool we talk about a lot here on the podcast and we use with all of our clients.
Suzie Price: [00:02:42]
They're using the tool to bring freedom to decision making within the organization, because it creates some kind of consensus and agreement, and it's something they take and complete. It creates a baseline, and it helps them overcome bias when they're making decisions, especially with high level positions that are going to impact the city. And then it'll be interesting, I think, for you to hear how these leaders use their experience, their top Motivators and communication strengths to inspire and support others. And so a rich discussion today. The show notes for today can be found at pricelessprofessional.com/localgovernment pricelessprofessional.com/localgovernment.
Suzie Price: [00:03:25]
Now let me tell you a little bit about who we're talking to today, and then we'll go right into our discussion. It's T2 professional consulting. They are a collaboration of government and corporate experts. They provide a host of services and tools to foster a healthier work environment. They help with leadership training, recruitment services and other specialized consulting services to help them reduce risk, create healthy and safe work environments, and foster high productivity. You can hear that their mission very closely aligns with what we do here at Priceless Professional Development. And I'm so happy that we found each other because I'm supporting them behind the scenes with their use of the TriMetrix Assessment and some of the tools that we have as one of their partners in working with city governments. Let me tell you a little bit about Mike and Mica. I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know them, and you're going to hear their level of honor in their life and the work that they do.
Suzie Price: [00:04:21]
But let's tell you a little bit of the facts here about Mike Wilson is the founder of T2 Professional Consulting and CEO. And he also has another company called New and Blue, where they focus on innovation for the police force. And he started his career as a police officer, and then throughout he's worked on technology and overseeing all kinds of design and implementation of software solutions, making communication and transparency and financial controls. You know, all the software and the work that he has done throughout his career has been focused on making all of that work better, and he's enhanced emergency dispatching, body camera implementation and gotten some awards for the communication around 911. So many things that he has been involved in that have been really important. He holds a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance, which he earned during his career in law enforcement. And he's done extensive graduate level study in communications and organizational development. So that's Mike Wilson. Mica Lunt is a Principal and Chief Operations Officer for T2. He also started his career as a police officer and served as a police sergeant, police lieutenant and a chief of police before he moved into consulting and some private work. He is a proven leader with a diversified educational and experiential background in both public and private sectors, and he has a Master's Degree in Psychology. I can't wait for you to meet them and learn more about them. Let's go to the discussion now.
Suzie Price: [00:05:54]
Mike and Mica, so good to see you. Thank you for being here.
Mike Wilson: [00:05:59]
Hello, Suzie. Pleasure to be here.
Mica Lunt: [00:06:01]
Happy as always, Suzie, to be with you and chatting about our stuff.
Suzie Price: [00:06:05]
We're going to jump right in. We're going to talk about the work that you do for city governments and city leaders, and the work you're doing and the way I always think about it is you're helping them make good decisions. So talk about some of the specific challenges for cities in Texas and everywhere. You know that more than any of us. Tell us what's going on and what they're facing.
Mike Wilson: [00:06:27]
You want to start, Mica, or would you like me to?
Mica Lunt: [00:06:29]
Go for it.
Mike Wilson: [00:06:30]
All right. One of the biggest, more prevailing issues is that you've seen a significant shift in tenure in senior executive level leadership positions probably a decade ago. The average tenure was between 5 and 7 years of some of your top executives. Just over the last couple of years, that's actually dropped to about 3 to 4 years. So what happens is that it creates a pretty intense dynamic where cities... With that transition, every time you have a transition, you're losing institutional knowledge and at the same time it elicits emotional responses, sometimes physical responses, because we know that change is almost always construed in a negative way. So that negativity will start to trigger fears and anxieties because we all fear the unknown. What it does is it has really started to shift the model as far as planning, strategy, long term planning in our municipal environments.
Suzie Price: [00:07:45]
So less experience, more change kind of creates a cauldron of fear within city council members who, most of the time are city council members volunteers? Do they get paid?
Mike Wilson: [00:07:56]
Yeah, mostly they're volunteers. So you have that dynamic going on in your governing body. But at the same time, it's really intensified when you're looking at the workers. The folks that are tasked with providing those services directly to the community. So you package that with everything else that is going on in our country and all of the affairs... We're coming off of Covid, where there is a level of social unrest, dissatisfaction with some aspects, whether it's federal, state, local and the governance within our country. And then we add to it some of the violent events that are occurring in our communities. So they're getting hit from all levels. There really is no safe haven, because all of these things have permeated into the home. So what our goal is and what our intent is that we want folks to be happy at work, but also happy at home and all of our efforts.
Suzie Price: [00:09:11]
What would you add, Mica, to the challenges or what Mike shared?
Mica Lunt: [00:09:16]
Two things come up based upon that. Totally agree. Folks are just not staying in jobs nearly as long as they are across the industry or across the workforce as a whole, in public and private. One of the issues that the government has struggled with for so long is just lagging behind. There will be a best practice or there will be something that will come through in the private sector, and it takes us in government, sometimes a decade or more to catch up to that. And the more that technology continues to advance, the more that competition continues to grow. That just isn't working anymore. It's too slow. And cities, I think, are struggling with how to keep up, how to compete in the marketplace for workers, whether they be at the senior level or or frontline level or anywhere between. And so that's another piece that while the public sector and the private sector are very different, there are some great things that we can learn and apply in government, particularly in local government, that some of our partners in the business world have been doing successfully for years, and we do some of that within T2.
Suzie Price: [00:10:42]
When you talk about these changes, we're going to talk about some of the things that you do. Because I've been so impressed with both of you and the work you're doing, and I just feel like it matters so much, but I want to bring it home to people who are listening, because one, I'm not very familiar with the government and or city councils. Talk a little bit about these challenges, how they impact the everyday citizen. So everybody who's listening lives in a city and is impacted by these challenges. Remind us or tell us what they are.
Mica Lunt: [00:11:20]
Well, one of the major challenges is that local government elections are generally decided by 10% or less of the population that is in that area. So you take a city with 10,000 folks, oftentimes all those decisions in terms of who's becoming the mayor, who's getting on to city council or the county commissioners court can be decided by a thousand folks or even a few hundred people, even in something that large. And so it's very easy for different interests to influence who gets into those leadership positions if folks are not paying attention. Why does that matter? Well, units of local government are the ones that make decisions over zoning. So what kind of facility can be developed right next door to you or down the road from you? What kind of businesses will that local government attract? Which of course contributes to the amount of revenue that can come into the city or to the county from a sales tax standpoint or a property tax standpoint. And that revenue is what that's what the city uses or the county uses to provide services, water services, sewer services, trash services, the things that all of us need in order to run our daily lives. And I've always found this interesting. If you go to a restaurant and you get bad service, generally you can just go to a different restaurant.
Mica Lunt: [00:12:51]
You can immediately take your money and go somewhere else. When you live in a community, as we all do, it's hard to move. You can't call up the neighboring town and say, well, my town won't pick up my trash. Why don't you come over and do it? I'll pay you the money instead. It doesn't work like that. If you live in that community you are required to pay taxes and fees to that community. And that's also been something that's contributed to the lag in government, is that governments have a steady source of income that is lawfully derived. Their citizens have to pay that money. And until things get so bad that people vote with their feet, in other words, they leave the community, which is costly and time consuming and so forth. Sometimes that doesn't motivate a unit of local government to step up their game in major metro areas and stuff like that, where there really is more competition sometimes that drives it. But that can be a struggle for sure, and a reason why it's important to the everyday person that might not be immediately involved in local government, but it affects their daily life.
Suzie Price: [00:14:06]
Well, it sure is a reminder to get involved in your local government and the elections. Pay attention. And then also kind of a need for more accountability. It sounds like that maybe for the decisions that are made, which is interesting, interesting.
Mica Lunt: [00:14:22]
And in our democracy that comes down to the people.
Suzie Price: [00:14:25]
Yeah, it's the people. Yeah. Anything you would add, Mike?
Mike Wilson: [00:14:28]
You know, I think Mica hit the nail on the head. It's all about empowering communities. There's a lot of frustration because communities feel that they have not been empowered as they once were. So what you have is really just a lot of things that are driven by fear. But the fear that we're talking about is the fear of the unknown. And kind of going back to the opening, when you have shorter tenures, you're not going to have the rich relationships that are going to lead to trust, because people are losing trust in the traditional framework of government. And the only way that we build that is through relationships. So with the shorter tenures, we're losing those rich relationships that can transcend the fears or the lack of trust that people hold within our governmental framework.
Suzie Price: [00:15:29]
Hence the reason I am so excited that I get to work with you all because I'm so excited about what you're doing, which is trying to right-size some of these challenges and trying to help communities be more functional and less dysfunctional, manage their fear, manage all these challenges. So I wanted for people to really get it because I don't think I always paid too much attention to it. I'm much more aware of it now that I see the challenges that you take, and they are big challenges for people to step into. And so I've been impressed with your ability to remain steady in the midst of some turmoil, sometimes in different places. So talk a little bit about your work experience. I've already shared your bios, of course, but talk about how your training and your work experience makes you ideal for this work, and maybe a little bit about why you each personally do this work.
Mike Wilson: [00:16:24]
Well, I think it all starts with where you come from. You know, Mica and I both come from public safety as kind of our baseline, and we were raised up in the nobility. And to really succeed in those roles, you have to have a true servant's heart to place others above self. And I think that that prepares you in a few ways. One, to deal with crises that we often encounter when we go into situations, being able to slow down, actually to speed up, to process what's going on through honed observation skills, fact finding, etc. Those hard skills. But to go really a step, step beyond to the soft skills and leveraging the ability to build rapport and build rapport quickly because in in the role of a police officer, especially when you're rolling into critical incidents where a person just experienced the worst day of their life and in many cases, the ability to quickly establish rapport and a level of trust goes a long ways. And within that scene, but also within their ability to recover from whatever they have just experienced. So operating within a hyper vigilant state. Just going through the ebbs and flows that are associated with that career personally allows us to not only validate people's feelings and where they're coming from, but also to understand that working in government, there's stress and there's trauma. But what Covid revealed to us is that no one is immune to it, and that that stress and trauma can be created in a lot of ways through what we're seeing all day, every day on television, through news reports, fears being communicated through social media, through face to face interactions. So our ability to be able to see how all of that is interrelated and plays into the function or dysfunction of an individual, a team, a group, an organization, a community. I think that's what really positions us to best serve.
Suzie Price: [00:18:56]
That's wonderful. What would you add, Mica?
Mica Lunt: [00:18:59]
So my story specifically as Mike mentioned, I remember when I was a beat cop, I just loved it. I mean, it was incredible. I would go to briefing, sit down and briefing, talk to everybody, go get my squad, go to my corner of the world. And, and that was my corner of the world to keep safe for the next 12 hours. And it was just an incredible experience. And then as I promoted and started having formal leadership responsibilities, it sort of became my goal to get folks to experience that same reward of seeing the the direct actions that they would take in terms of how that helped a victim get through something difficult or by stopping this person that was drunk when they were driving, keeping the crash from happening, that you also have to work from time to time and just seeing that stuff. And as that transitioned into executive leadership roles and now ultimately with what we do in T2L whether it be in public safety or it be in public works. We work with a city right now that one of their major issues that they're trying to combat is trash in the community. And so we put a measure on that of missed collections. How many times is it happening per week that we're missing picking up residential collections? And we're tracking that. And then we're seeing that decrease over time through increased training, increased standards of accountability.
Mica Lunt: [00:20:36]
And the community is now starting to make social media posts and so forth about that community being cleaner. And they're establishing more pride back in the community. So my whole piece has really been trying to take the public servant and getting them to experience the incredible reward of helping folks because most of us don't get into public service for money. We get into it for this notion of helping our fellow person that we also live with, that are part of our community and seeing that impact. And so I've really enjoyed that aspect of my career and seeing those rewards. And now in our firm, helping cities turn that around to where the workers, the leaders are proud of, the services that they're able to deliver to their citizens, to their business owners that work in the city. Anybody that owns a business that works within a city has probably gone through a permit process needing to get a permit or a certificate of occupancy and things like that? Well, that can be a bureaucratic process that takes a lot of time. How efficiently does a city churn those out? Do they make it easier or more difficult for someone to do business within that community? And those are ways that we help units of local government, cities and counties to improve their processes and ultimately better serve their citizens. And when they see that the reward that comes from that is really great.
Suzie Price: [00:22:21]
Has a big impact on a lot of people. When people are hiring you, I'm hearing about trash and figures for the permit process. Are they hiring you for everything? Anything? What? Because the little part that I've been involved in is when they've been hiring a new city manager, and that is a paid position. The city council hires the city manager, and the city council is all volunteer. But the city manager needs to be a high level senior executive. So I know you do that piece. So give a little bit of a brief on the parts and pieces that you do. I'm curious because I'm not aware of all the others.
Mica Lunt: [00:23:00]
Our search and placement process is very unique. Mike and I are not aware of any other firm that kind of does what we do, and you, Suzie, have been very instrumental in helping us really refine this process. But basically when a city or county reaches out to us and says we need to hire X... City manager, county administrator, police chief finance director, or whatever the case may be, there are plenty of firms out there that do that work. What we have found and what a lot of our colleagues still in local government have found, is the the criticism or the difficulty of the typical approach is, okay, you need a city manager, I'll do for you the exact same thing that I did for the last city, and we'll recruit, we'll put together a brochure and we'll see who bites and and try to get you a good candidate. It's just the traditional hiring process. And you can review pretty much any academic literature, Harvard Business Review, Forbes and so forth. And there's plenty of criticism of the traditional hiring process. Doesn't work very well in the private sector, doesn't work very well in the public sector. And so we work on fit, establishing fit. And that process that we go through is very different. We certainly utilize the assessment tools with the TriMetrix as part of that process. But we also have a really detailed vetting process from written recorded response assessment centers that folks go through, video recorded assessments and so on.
Mica Lunt: [00:24:38]
So our process is really unique in that way. And then in general, if if a unit of local government hires us for other things, they hire us for some kind of problem. I mean, that's part of our slogan, right, is problem solvers. That's what we do. And fortunately, we've been in a lot of positions where over the course of our career, that was what was handed to us is some kind of very significant problem, usually where the people that are in place were not being utilized to their full potential, whether that be barriers in communication patterns or it be a toxic environment or a whole host of other things. But we come in and we do a comprehensive assessment of the organization, analyze that through a SWOT framework, and when we then share those findings of the organization's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, we provide an action plan that is detailed saying this is what you ought to do. This is what we believe to be the priorities. And then the organization can tackle that action plan with or without us. Usually they choose to tackle it with us. And that's where we try to develop that really long term partnership and relationship to help bring them forward.
Suzie Price: [00:26:00]
Wonderful. Mike, anything you want to add?
Mike Wilson: [00:26:02]
The only thing that I would add was. What really sets us apart in that problem solving role is that we don't just limit those capabilities into one particular area. We have a strong and rich network of affiliates that work alongside us, and our goal with any client is to be a trusted advisor, to be available to them even long after the contract is concluded, for them to use as a soundboard or to reach out. So within that network, our national experts, it's people that can help, especially municipalities, work through and identify funding means to complete critical infrastructure projects and to navigate this new world that we live in, where we're really being forced to do more with less. And even as our populations continue to swell, that burden of service continues to grow. And by being able to leverage all of these resources, because we never want to be all things to all people, but what we want to be are good friends and good partners, and be able to do the legwork to identify people and various industries that are high integrity, whose heart is in the right place to package good sound solutions to these communities.
Suzie Price: [00:27:35]
That's wonderful. Yeah, it's a trusted advisor, and then you've got this network that they don't have to go do all the searching when you especially when you think about a city manager who has a very full plate, very big budget, lots to run and including the city council and trying to get their approval. I mean, it's when you think about the challenges within a city, it's amazing that anything gets done. It's amazing. And to go back to the assessment piece, when I think about the TriMetrix process, the benchmark process, which is getting buy-in from the city council, I mean, I've used that in corporations where you got the president and the COO who can agree on the new CMO. And so they never can hire a new marketing officer because they never can agree what the person should do. That's multiplied now, because I don't know how many people you have in a city council, eight, ten people on the city council, and they're supposed to come to some agreement. So I love the process, but I also love your ability to take it and use it so quickly and so effectively to help them come to some good decision. The benchmark process is a patented process that helps a group of people come to consensus about what is needed on the job for success, so that when they're looking at candidates, the bias isn't there. They're actually looking at the template for the job. And so can you speak a little bit to that? I mean, my understanding of the challenges within a city council. And in this process, you speak to that for just a minute. I don't want to over highlight that because you do a bunch of things, but so many of my community know TriMetrix, so I'd be curious.
Mike Wilson: [00:29:13]
Anytime you're working with a governing body, you're dealing with anywhere from six, seven or more very passionate people. As you stated earlier, they're not being paid for their volunteer service, but they want to make an impact on their community, and they want to serve. What we have found with tools like the benchmark is that, number one, it gives them freedom to construct their committee however they wish to construct their committee. We've gone into cities where council served in that role, but we've also served cities who said no, we want a representation of council, but we want to represent every aspect of our community. Let's bring in a couple of residents. Let's bring in some staff members. And that really is a cool experience when you can do that, but what it does is it establishes that baseline and it establishes an anchor that we can go back to, because, face it, we all have our own agendas in life. We're all framed by past experiences. We all hold bias in some form or fashion, so absent an anchor that we can all kind of go back to and hold on to when we're going through a very intensive process, they're very critical decisions that have to be made that can have lasting implications on communities and on people's lives.
Mike Wilson: [00:30:44]
So it helps them manage their stress. And so many times we'll get to an impasse and we'll bring them back to the superior performance attributes that they created, or we bring them back to key competencies that they identified. And that's them. We are simply facilitators in that role. So that's from my perspective, what the most value is for us in this role is that you're able to kind of have that objective third party, which is the tool, and it's a product of their efforts, their passions, their inputs. To always bring them back to remind them. And in every instance, it does a great job in calming a room, bringing focus back to where focus needs to be so that decisions can be made and we can actually have healthy disagreements without casualties in the form of broken relationships, broken trust and those things.
Suzie Price: [00:31:51]
So much that I like that healthy conflict without casualties, I think is how you said it. That is well said. Some other things that were said earlier that I want to highlight. And then, Mike, I'm going to come to you and see if you have any more comments about this, what we've been talking about. And then we're going to kind of go into more about you and your careers, is what I wanted to highlight a couple of things that you said. Both of you said it in different ways, but the word that stood out was nobility and that you say that word nobility, servant's heart, putting others above self is truly what I have seen from both of you and what I see in this work and in the work of top police officers and top city managers, their nobility. And there's just something very strong about that. And the other thing is, what I see in both of you are these skills that we measure actually in TriMetrix. And it's the ability we always say if you're if you score high in these, you could go work in an emergency room. One of them is, you think about the emergency room coming at you every minute. How do those people remain calm? Well, they have developed high resiliency, so it's the ability to bounce back from stress. And a lot of that has to do with experience like you have. But it's also an internal structure. And the other is high internal self control, which is again, there's chaos all around. And you're the person who gets calm and you even said it, so you're going to observe, build rapport, pay attention to what's going on. So anyway, it just kudos to you both for stepping into this hotbed of challenges and making sense of it all. And I'm just really pleased to know that there are people like you all out there doing this work. What else would you say, Mica, about what we've talked about before? We jump into a little bit more about you guys individually.
Mica Lunt: [00:33:35]
The only other thing which probably be helpful to you and to your listeners is just the value that the TriMetrix provides. I love the benchmarking process. That's key. That's fundamental. But then when you get the TriMetrix result and you're comparing that back to the job benchmark, the analogy that I always use is I'm explaining this. Is that it's like walking into a dark room and you got a flashlight, and the TriMetrix shines a light into potential gaps, potential areas. And then through the use of that patented process that just targets our research, it targets our behavioral based interviewing questions that ultimately results in better job fit. And that's the key differentiator that really, really helps. And I think that, that is so, so valuable in the hiring processes period. And it also really highlights the fact that the city manager for any city over here and city manager for some city over here, same title, different role, different job, and our process really captures that as well.
Suzie Price: [00:34:50]
All right. This is the end of part one of our discussion around confronting challenges of local government with nobility, service and excellence. With Mike Wilson and Michael Lunt. Don't miss part two and you can find the video. This is a video recording as well as an audio. If you go to pricelessprofessional.com/localgovernment and "local government" is all one word pricelessprofessional.com/localgovernment, you're going to learn more about how they're changing the world through government services. And you don't want to miss part two because we go into more detail. And at the end of part two don't miss where I share my comments about the top takeaways from the conversation. So I'll be excited for you to tune in for that. And be sure to subscribe to the Wake Up Eager Workforce podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Suzie Price: [00:35:39]
As a reminder, we're giving away a Workplace Motivators Assessment today. And in part one and part two, we talk about TriMetrix and Workplace Motivators. You can get your own 24 page report. You can use it for yourself or give it to someone in your life who would like to have more clarity about what their top drivers are, what puts gas in their tank so they can align and be a fit for their future. We have about 100 different development resources related to getting that free Workplace Motivators Assessment. It's a $350 value, and what we are asking is we're giving away some of these assessments to anyone who leaves us a review for the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast. So leave us a review on iTunes and let me know, and I'll send you that complimentary link so that you can get the free episode. If you're not sure how to leave a review, go to pricelessprofessional.com/review and we will give you a little tutorial on that. You can find the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast at wakeupeagerworkforce.com or anywhere that you get your episodes and you can reach out to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. All right, we'll see you soon. Hope you keep on waking up eager.
In this episode of the Wake Up Eager Workforce Podcast was brought to you by Priceless Professional Development. Thank you for tuning in. If you enjoyed today's show, head over to pricelessprofessional.com to gain access to more professional development resources.