A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

BOARD RETREAT

JANUARY 26, 2007

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners met in special session on Friday, January 26, 2007, at 9:00 a.m., at the Carlton Palms Educational Center, Lake Jem, Florida.  Commissioners present at the meeting were: Welton G. Cadwell, Chairman; Jennifer Hill, Vice Chairman; Elaine Renick; Debbie Stivender; and Linda Stewart.  Others present were: Cindy Hall, County Manager; Gregg Welstead, Deputy County Manager; Sanford A. Minkoff, County Attorney; Barbara Lehman, Chief Deputy Clerk, County Finance; Daryl Smith, Environmental Services Director; Fletcher Smith, Community Services Director; Greg Mihalic, Tourism and Business Relations Director; Carol Stricklin, Director, Growth Management; Steve Earls, Information Technology Director; Dottie Keedy, Director, Economic Growth and Redevelopment; Gary Kaiser, Public Safety Director; Jim Stivender, Jr., Public Works Director; Jim Banon, Facilities Development and Management Director; Regina Frazier, Budget Director; Wendy Taylor, Executive Office Manager, Board of County Commissioners= Office; and  Susan Boyajan, Deputy Clerk.

WELCOME

Commr. Cadwell introduced Mr. Ken Mazek, the Director of the Carlton Palms Educational Center, and opined that he was a great corporate citizen of Lake County and that they appreciated his efforts.

Mr. Mazek welcomed everyone to the facility and gave some background information of the services they provided.  He explained that they served children who were autistic and developmentally disabled, and that they had many different types of programs.  He stated that they had achieved many of their goals since coming to Lake County, including providing services to autistic children in their homes across the country through interactive television.  They also had provided psychological services, special educational services, and speech pathology.  He commented that this was a federal-funded project and that he believed that it would bring national attention to Lake County.  He also stated that the organization had grown to about 250 employees, most of whom were college graduates.  He thanked the Board for giving him the opportunity to explain what they do.

Ms. Cindy Hall, County Manager, thanked everyone for coming and stated that the idea for this workshop came to them last fall after they were aware that there would be a change in leadership, and they thought it would be a good opportunity for them to get together, build a rapport, and get to know each other in a casual and fun setting.  Some of the staff had heard the speaker at a Florida Association of Counties Conference and thought that he would be the perfect one to come and facilitate this team-building process.  She introduced Mr. David Rabiner, from Portland, Oregon, to lead the Leadership Team Workshop.

Mr. David Rabiner stated that his program was designed to get everyone to work better together, based upon the principle that organizations that work together go through processes to maximize their performance.  He stated that if all the organizations and the Counties of the world were plotted on a bell curve as far as how well they worked together and performed, most would fall in the middle.  He commented that he was operating from the premise that everyone there worked together in an average way, and that the way they dealt with things they experienced was consistent with the way most people would.  He stated that his goal today was for everyone to start thinking about what they could do together that would allow them to perform at a significantly different and better level than others in the same circumstance.

Mr. Rabiner stated that there were a few principles that he used to do this, and that the most important one was that peak-performing organizations were different than ordinary organizations based upon what they chose to do, not on what they knew, and that his goal was to get people to think of what they could do differently that would allow them to do things in this organization in a better way.  He commented that we were in a time when the demand for labor was starting to exceed the supply of labor, making it harder for employers to find and keep good employees, and that organizations that did not have a plan in place as to how to attract and retain the highest-quality people over the next decade would be at the lower end of the bell curve. He also commented that employees were more attracted to good managers and working environments than to the job itself or the salary.  He stated that he hoped to help them create the kind of team and environment that would attract and retain those workers.

MAGIC IN THE MIX ICEBREAKER

Mr. Rabiner stated that they would start out with a fun ice-breaker, and then get into the main program.  He wanted everyone to think of this workshop not as taking something that is broken and making it work, but to think of it as something that is presumably working and taking it to the highest possible level.  He directed everyone to open to Page 2 in the Leadership Team Workshop booklet, to the “Magic Is In The Mix” tool.  He explained that a Myers-Briggs instrument was created as a four-dimensional tool that was great for counseling, but since it was so complex, it was difficult for the average person to work with quickly to improve performance.  He commented that he wanted to give everyone a tool that was very easy to use, and directed them to take the test on Page 2 in the booklet, answering all the questions according to the way they actually were, not the way they wanted to be.  He directed them to transfer their answers from that test unto the scoring table on Page 3 of the booklet, which was the scoring grid.  He explained that each response had a point score of 0, 1, 10, or 11; there were 9 items; and everyone should have a score somewhere between 0 and 99.   He stated that after following the directions on Page 3, each person should have one box with 2 X’s in it, two boxes with one X each, and one with nothing in it.  He went on to comment that the person with 2 X’s in Box 3 or Box 4 (the bottom half of the grid) was a person that needed things to make sense and solved problems by looking at the facts associated with it and coming up with a very logical solution.  He stated that the people with 2X’s on top in either Box 1 or 2 are what he calls “feel good (or right) people,” who solve problems by feeling an answer.  He opined that conflicts could take place between the people falling in the top and bottom of the grid because of this particular difference, and went on to give examples of that.  He commented that it is critical in order to persuade someone of something that it is done in a manner that makes them comfortable.

Mr. Rabiner then talked about the differences between the boxes on the left and right side of the grid.  He stated that people in Box 2 or Box 4 on the right side are “goal people,” and that anyone on the left side in Box 1 or 3 is a “process person.”  He went on to explain that a goal person would keep trying things until they found the right solution, but a process person wanted to stop, survey the problem, go through a process, and make the right choice.  He stated that if an organization did not have Box 4 people, there would be no internal drive to get things done, but that sometimes people in the other three boxes would think they are unfriendly at times.  He stated that Box 3 people could sometimes have conflict with Box 4 people because Box 3 people felt things had to be done right by going through a long, thorough process, while Box 4 people wanted things done without delay and could accuse the Box 3 people of being indecisive.  He opined that that was ironic, because once the Box 3 person had gone through a process and had made a decision, they rarely changed their minds and remained very decisive.  He stated that the Box 3 people brought precision and accuracy to an organization.

He stated that Box 1 people believed that everyone needed to agree and live together in peace and harmony, and were good at making sure people did not get run over by Box 4 people, but that sometimes they had a hard time getting things done.  He went on to explain that Box 2 people are internally focused and that they make their decisions right away but that their decisions are flexible.  He commented that the strength of the Box 2 people was that they were the change agents.

Mr. Rabiner summarized the personality style survey results by stating that an organization needed all four types of people to be successful.  He stated that the problem was that the different types of people did not always get along and tended to attach the word “difficult” to what was, in fact, different.  He pointed out that if there was only one Box type in an organization, it would get a predictable outcome.  He stated that everyone should be sensitive to the different styles, and that a person’s style could change from day to day.  He opined that the manager’s job, especially in today’s job market, was to figure out how to adapt to their employees’ styles.  He suggested that everyone give more thought to what they could do to be more effective in understanding the differences and whether they need to change their style of interaction to do that.

THE PRINCIPLES OF TEAMWORK

Mr. Rabiner stated that he was not looking for things that were done right versus things that were done wrong, but that he was looking for things that were good versus things that were normal, for the responses that the group came up with for the exercises on page 6.  He recommended a book called “First Break All the Rules,” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, that talked about what it took to attract and retain the highest quality people.  He urged people against filling out the left side of the table with things opposite of the right side that bothered them.  He recommended that they think about what organizations that are in the top five percent do to communicate openly that is different from normal organizations.  He explained that the left side should contain things that were different and good, and the right side could contain things that were bothersome.  He stated that out of the 67 counties in Florida, there were probably only about two or three counties who operated significantly different than the rest.  He explained that the left column of the chart would be a quality or behavior those counties do that are different than most counties, and the right column are the two or three counties that are just bad.  He further clarified that he hoped to get people to work toward making the County better than all others, not based upon the sum total of the individuals themselves, but the manner in which they work with and resolve issues with staff members.

The following is a compilation of some of the peak performing characteristics that the various groups wrote on the wall charts:  creation of a level of trust to let each individual run with their ideas, ability to take both politically correct and incorrect risks, maintenance of a level of loyalty to the vision of the overall Board, honesty and straight forwardness with staff, communication,  clear goals and mission, continuous reassessment, supportiveness,  internal non-competitiveness, willingness to compromise, and flexibility.  Other peak-performing characteristics were being collaborative, innovative, decisive, committed, and firm but fair, as well as giving employees empowerment in decision making, listening, and having financial stability.

The following is a compilation of some of the low-performing characteristics that were written:  lack of civility, lack of loyalty to organization, lack of commitment by elected officials, staff bashing (especially in public), uncooperativeness, fragmentation, non-supportiveness, finger-pointing and blame, inward focus, competition against colleagues, negativity, and staff recommendation geared toward particular outcomes.

CHALLENGES TO GROWTH

Mr. Rabiner pointed out that most people knew what the peak-performance and low-performance characteristics were, but that there were three big obstacles that were responsible for the gap between normal and peak performance.  The first one was assessment of current strengths and weaknesses.  He stated that most people did not realize that they were average in most characteristics.  He recommended that the key was to take a good, hard look at someone who was considered to have a certain desired characteristic and figure out what he or she did that was different than the norm.  He commented that it was hard for most people to honestly assess themselves in the areas in which they need to grow and change.  He stated that everyone should have a long list of things that they could work at improving.  He opined that people that were at peak performance were always working on it, and that was what made them that way.  He gave many sports analogies demonstrating this point, such as Tiger Woods working on and changing his golf swing and Michael Jordan changing his basketball moves.  He commented that average people intend to work on improvement, but get trapped in transacting business and never have time to do the transformation, but that peak-performing people find the time to do it.  He stated that the key is to create an environment where there are people around to help with assessment.

He stated that the second obstacle was translating the desired qualities into behaviors.  He explained that it was tough to figure out what to do differently that would result in the desired behaviors.  He stated that staff should see change from the leadership in order to inspire change in them.

The third obstacle was trusting in the principles.  He stated that they needed to believe that working on the left-side qualities had a positive impact on the manner in which the government operated and therefore had a positive impact on the citizens in the County.  If a person did not believe in the principle, either consciously or subconsciously, he would consider it a waste of time and would not do it.  For example, the public officials would have to believe that being respectful of one another translated into better service to the people who live here.  He defined a principle as a rule or a law that generally predicted what would happen in a specific circumstance. He commented that changing behavior based on unreliable principles was a problem for people, because most people wanted to be sure that the principle definitely would work before they adopted it.  He stated that a value is something that was important to people all by itself, but that a principle is only important to the degree that it could result in a value.  He recommended demonstrating behaviors consistent with the principles long enough so that the principle eventually becomes a value, at which point a person does it because it is important to them in and of itself.  He stated that the next step in the process is when a value becomes a virtue, which is when people do something because it does not even occur to them not to do it, because it is done automatically and subconsciously.

He suggested that everyone come up with a list of things that are important to them.  He stated that if a group agreed on a set of characteristics, then they would have a set of core values.  He recommended a book called “Built to Last,” by Jerry Porras and Jim Collins to learn more about this.

THE PRINCIPLE OF TRUST

 Mr. Rabiner stated that he believed that without trust, there is no relationship, and that all strong relationships are built on a foundation of trust.  He further stated that if trust has been broken, it is up to both parties in that relationship to fix it, since both would benefit from the restoration of that trust.  He opined that in reality, both parties blame the other for the breach, one waiting for an apology and the other blaming that party for not forgiving them.  He stated that if the trust between the people in the organization was not at the highest level in the bell curve, they needed to get together and talk about it, since that was the basis for a good working relationship.

He explained that the first dimension of trust is competence.  He commented that if someone does not have trust in a colleague’s  ability, he would not trust that person to do the job that needs to be done.  He commented, however, that the problem with competence as an element of trust is that many people believe that they can rely on competence to get people to trust them, and that this results in people posturing with others and trying to exhibit confidence to earn that trust.  He stated that the problem with this was that competence was just one component.

He stated that the second dimension of trust was transparency, which was when people are confident that the other does not have any hidden agendas or will not withhold information that is important.  Failure to be open and honest on critical issues creates suspicion and distrust.

The third principle of trust that Mr. Rabiner presented was consistency, or predictability.  People show consistency if they do what they say they are going to do.  Conversely, a lot of people are not trusted because they say things just to appease others but do not believe they had actually made a commitment.  He commented that an organization where every comment to each other was a commitment had a high level of consistency that built trust.  He opined that supervisors should be extra careful about creating credibility with their staff, since a lack of consistency results in a lack of trust.  He warned that people tend to be less consistent with people who were below them on the hierarchy, because the consequences of not doing so were perceived as less.

The final component that he presented was care or genuine concern, meaning that if people in an organization cared about and liked each other, they would get along better and trust each other more.  He stated that if co-workers perceive others as self-serving, they will not trust them and will question their motives, resulting in a reluctance to follow their lead.  He commented that one of the most important components of keeping good workers is for them to feel that they have good friends at work.  He stated that if workers felt that their supervisors cared about what was important to them and wanted them to be successful, they were going to trust them more.

CONCLUSION

Mr. Rabiner reiterated that the goal of this program was not to teach the group things that they did not know, because he believed that their success was not so much a function of what they knew, but of what they chose.  He reminded them to take some of the goals that were on the wall and go through a process to figure out what they were going to do as a group that is different and better than others in their position that would allow this County to run better than all the other counties.  He commented that the success of this program depends more on what happens after it than on what happens during it, and he hoped everyone would dedicate a few minutes some time that day to decide how they would move from being typically transactional to a peak-performing transformation both individually and as a group.  He urged people to call him or e-mail him with any questions or comments in the future, and gave his e-mail address as david@rabiner.com.  He suggested that people who need a person with an expertise in the research part of the program to e-mail Susy Wagner at susy@rabiner.com.

There being no further business to be brought to the attention of the Board, the meeting was adjourned at 12:25 p.m.

                                                                       

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WELTON G. CADWELL, CHAIRMAN

ATTEST:

 

 

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JAMES C. WATKINS, CLERK