What an honor it was to have Chris Nunes and Tom Venniro host a webinar for us on the challenges, strategies and benefits of finding your future leaders through their presentation “Managing People in Today’s Society: The Great, the Good, the Bad & the Ugly”!
Chris, as the Chief Operating Officer at The Woodlands Township and Tom, as the Parks and Recreation Director at the Town of Hilton-Parma brought to us an incredible high-energy session. The chat was off the hook! By sharing personal experiences and the practical strategies they apply in their day-to-day, this session took us on a deep dive into one of the most mystifying aspects for those who hold supervisory roles: managing people.
If you missed the webinar and wish you hadn’t, you can watch the recording here.
But if you are just interested in getting the highlights, then you came to the right place! Check out our favorite quotes from the session and why we think the implications they emphasize about leadership could be just the refresher you needed to take your agency’s team to the next level this fall and next year.
1. Active Listening
“Active listening is so important and it’s something I had to learn to do better. I was ready to jump in to help solve the problem, ready to give an answer to staff. But now I have slowed down, to take the time really listen in, and think ‘what is this staffer trying to tell me’, ‘do I need to read between the lines?’.” - Chris Nunes (15:20)
Why we love it: Active listening could be one of the most important characteristics for a leader, and luckily it can be something you adopt! Mentioned in the chat by several of our viewers and in the presentation, it clearly carries a lot of importance for experienced leaders in the Parks & Rec industry.
2. Different Employee Types
“Someone may not be a high performer but still plays a very valuable role. When I was in Colorado, if I wanted someone to open the rec center at 4:45am, it wasn’t the rockstars who wanted to do that. I had an employee who was just giving her 4-hour shift, nothing more, but she had that consistency & reliability.” - Chris Nunes (24:20)
Why we love it: It takes all kinds of different employees to make an organization as complex as a Parks & Rec agency to run. At the end of the day, your rockstar employees are important but so are the ones who show up and provide their small piece of the puzzle, consistently. It also shows how important it is to recognize, however small, what people do well, what it brings to the table and how that can bring value to you as a leader and your agency.
3. Quiet Quitting
“I'm assuming that people out there have heard of quietly quitting, and and this is something that, two years ago, was foreign to me. But it happened in our team. What we needed to do was to have some really difficult conversations. After really talking about it, we found out that there were some things going on behind the scenes. We all have personal issues that are going on. And, more importantly, we found out that that this individual employee may have had a feeling that they were being pushed a little too hard. That high performance that we were seeing ended up being something that we had leaned into just a bit too much, and maybe some burnout happened. So ultimately, we worked through it.” (33:03)
Why we love it: From our point of view, managers who are intune with their staff to notice this change in behavior are already doing something right. That means they take the time to get to know their staff and have a close enough relationship to know what is out of character for them. In addition, having open conversations, however difficult, are the ones that often have the most benefit. At the end of the day, this is a huge aspect of retaining staff: understanding the ups and downs, as well as connecting with them for an honest conversation to see what can be done to help them out of it.
4. Soft Skills
“Soft skills are an important part of what we're looking for now, when we're hiring people. That is because we need to be looking for someone who really fits the mold of our team. Is it someone who can critically think, is it someone who's got those intangible leadership skills, those communication skills or creativity. These are soft skills that you can't really put on paper. All that to say, it’s important to look beyond the resume when you're hiring your team members” (36:45)
Why we love it: Making sure someone you hire fits in with your team and has the right temperament to do the job is so important. They may look good on paper, but do you really see them having positive interactions with your residents? How about other staff members? This type of fit for soft skills also contributes to the longevity of the person’s tenure in their role. If they fit in with the team, if their personality and natural strengths fit what the job requires them to do, it’s more likely that they will do good work and have job satisfaction.
5. Investing in Your Employees
“There's a statement that I use in a lot of my presentations: The CFO says to the CEO, ‘Hey, what happens if we invest all this money and training opportunities and people leave?’ And then the CEO says, ‘Well, what if we don't invest in these people and they stay?’ And so, there are things such as conferences that require a lot of budget. But then, there are also things like we're doing today with Amilia. It's a free webinar, you can you pass that information on to your staff to say, ‘Hey, listen. Tom and Chris are going to be presenting about management and I really would encourage you to attend.’ There's even other associations and other entities that offer this type of free training that is perfect if you don't have a big budget. There's some low hanging fruit that you can do to grow and develop your staff.” (53:22)
Why we love it: It really drives the point home that staff development is crucial and feasible. Basically, you can’t afford not to do it and in addition to that, there are a lot of internet resources that are often free (check out the complete Amilia library here)! We may sound like a broken record but again, this is another aspect of your employees’ experience that will help you ensure that they stay for the long term.
With so much to manage, in addition to people, in your role it can be hard to balance it all! Thanks to Chris and Tom, we can all plan for the new year knowing we got a great refresher on the strategies and practices you can use to keep your team at its best! If you’re curious to find out more about what they covered during their session, you can watch the full webinar here.