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City Manager's Blog

Learn about the City of Roanoke from the City Manager's point of view.

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Dec 26

Making a Difference – Honestly, with Respect and Responsibility

Posted on December 26, 2018 at 9:36 AM by Whitney Slightham

Each month I have the honor to welcome the newest group of employees to the City.  I like to stress that, in my opinion, one of the best reasons to work for the City is our organization’s ability to make a difference in people’s lives.  

Our employees make a difference every day in a variety of ways. Some are obvious, such as working in public safety, while others are perhaps less so—working in Fleet or the Department of Technology.  As I like to explain to the group: it takes a buyer in Purchasing to get that police car or fire truck for our public safety employees.  It takes a mechanic working in our fleet operations to make sure our vehicles are running well.  Every police officer depends upon a computer in their car and our Department of Technology team makes sure that computer and its related data are as reliable as possible.  Every firefighter and police officer depends on our accounting clerks to be certain they receive their paychecks and can provide for their families.

These are but a few examples of how folks throughout the organization contribute and make a difference in our community each day.  As an organization, we make such differences grounded in a set of values.  Over the next couple of posts, I intend to highlight these values and how they contribute to what we do, why we do what we do, and how we do it.

What We Value

With this post, I would like to focus on the first three: honesty, respect, and responsibility.

Honesty - Honesty is generally defined as fairness in conduct or adherence to the facts.  This definition is perfect for what is expected of each of our employees, as it goes beyond what one might associate with honesty – don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, etc. While those are all important, our expectations go well beyond these.  When staff are presenting a policy recommendation to the City Council or to one of our Boards and Commissions, it is expected that unbiased facts will be provided along with that recommendation.  When staff are conducting business or delivering services, it is expected that these actions are done in a fair and impartial manner.  The way in which we decide what sidewalk to repair first, what street to improve, or how we respond to a law enforcement concern, should be done without bias or preference. 

Respect - Respect is expected of every one of our employees in every interaction with the public and with one another.  Each person that lives, works, or visits our community is to be provided the respect we would expect for ourselves or a family member.  Folks may not always agree with the actions taken and in some cases, but even in these instances our employees are expected to respect the person who they are interacting with.  There are more than 1,700 employees delivering services for the City and, to do so successfully, each teammate must respect one another.  There is no room for disrespect for those who work alongside one another.  We depend upon one another, not only to deliver services, but also to do so safely and this necessitates that we watch out for each other.

Responsibility - To put it simply, our employees are responsible for a great deal of what you and I often take for granted, but could not do without: trash service, emergency help just a 911 phone call away, snow removal, and planning for our future, to name a few.  Our employees are expected to take these responsibilities seriously.  They recognize that your quality of life and, in some cases, your very life depends upon the seriousness with which they conduct themselves.  Our employees know that if a street does not get clear of snow, if a fire truck does not arrive in a timely manner, or if a trash bin is missed, they (and the rest of us who work for the City) will be held accountable.

The Results

Thankfully, I can report that our team – and therefore, we as an organization - recognizes the importance of these core values.  I know this from the awards and recognitions many of our staff receive from their peers and professional organizations.  I know this from the numerous accreditations a number of our departments possess.  I know this from the results of surveys that we have conducted in the community.  But, most importantly, I know this from watching our folks work.  I see firsthand every day how they conduct themselves. I see them deliver fair and honest service, respect one another and the community members they meet, and I see the seriousness with which they conduct themselves.  I see them apply these core values and make a difference – and that’s the best we could ask for!

- Bob Cowell

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