About 30 years ago a friend was a city manager. I remember discussions with him about (especially) local politicians and their qualifications. My feelings were, and are, it would really help if local leaders weren’t career government workers but had business experience, especially if their experience included having to manage cashflow and make payroll.
So I was pleased when Jon Talton in the Seattle Times published his list of questions for Seattle city council candidates. One of his questions to candidates was, “Have you ever run a business?” Not enough attention is paid to managing money when there’s the tax spigot.
Here are a few other business things, especially from small businesses, that would be helpful to government leaders.
- You must have metrics for your division and your people.
- Poor customer service means you lose your customers and in the case of government you lose support and community involvement.
- Understand what your customers need and want, not what you (the politician) want. A business can have the best widget there ever was, but nobody wants widgets…
- Challenge your employees so they don’t fall into the trap of mediocrity or as my dad would say when something wasn’t done great, “Good enough for government work.”
Of course, businesses should pay attention to the above also. If they don’t, their value isn’t what it could be.
“It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.” Mark Twain