County institutes leadership training for employees


A police officer that doesn't feel well treated probably won't treat citizens well. By contrast, an officer who enjoys coming to work is likely to treat citizens kindly, with respect.

Bill Gardner used those examples during a three-day leadership seminar for Moffat County employees that concluded Friday afternoon.

As Mesa County Sheriff's Office administrator, Gardner had to fix a department that was filled with what he called "RODs," retired on duty officers. He did that by changing schedules so that younger officers didn't shoulder the brunt of the work while senior officers hid from their superiors. That experience taught him the importance of modeling courageous leadership and the value of empathy.

Now Gardner still works at Mesa County, but as a second job he conducts leadership seminars. The seminar was held to counter much of the negativity that has permeated the county lately, said Lynette Running, the county's human resources director.

Gardner said the seminar was an investment for the county.

"If you don't have a fundamental understanding about how to get maximum productivity out of employees, then you can't expect it to happen. If a leadership team isn't trained, how will you get maximum productivity?" Gardner said.

Relying on psychological research and real-world experience, Gardner lead discussions and workshops to increase employee productivity through improved communications and teamwork.

Gardner calls his approach total quality management. Instead of dictating to employees, leaders need to have a mission-based approach that empowers employees to make the best decision possible.

That means seeking a balance between state-required services and quality customer service.

Leaders need to know how to make their employees feel well treated, Gardner said. Like the police officers he described, employees will serve citizens better when they feel valued.

Employees feel well treated when they are part of the decisions made in their departments, and when they learn news that affects them from their boss rather than the newspaper. It's important to make employees feel valued, because it increases their productivity, Gardner said.

William James, the famed psychologist, found unmotivated employees work at about 30 percent efficiency. By contrast, motivated employees work at 80 to 90 percent efficiency

Elaine Sullivan, Clerk and Recorder, said Gardner's lessons came at a valuable time.

"It promotes teamwork which is important while we're getting back on our feet," Sullivan said.

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