The Art of Public Administration

Recently, I was offered a position with a research institute as the chief of staff. I was actually offered the job some time ago, but only accepted it at the end of 2015. My role and responsibility as an administrator starts with operations, moves to administration and ends with fiscal. These roles and responsibilities give rise to many questions. How can I run an organization effectively and efficiently, but also in a way that continuously motivates me, motivates others and creates a plan that contributes to a successful organization?

In the past, I have worked for organizations that did not evolve, did not value staff input and somehow forget the words “community” and “social service.” Jon Snyder’s book, Getting Citizens on Board: What Motives Besides a Crisis, does a great job of looking in-depth at public participation, which makes me think about organizations in general. Whether they are public, private or government – participation is needed on all levels. But how do you create better workplace environment where everyone holds themselves accountable and where accountability becomes the norm?

As a public administrator, you have to ask the questions:

  • What theories and practices do I implement?
  • How do I maximize the potential of each employee without burnout?
  • How do we continue to motivate ourselves?
  • How can we prevent organizations where clocking day-in and day-out becomes discouraging?

Nielson and Randell note that attempts to implement theories are not always achieved. They further suggest that employee participation, while important, must be accompanied by perceptions of real changes in daily work practices if important outcomes are to occur.

My experience has led me to believe the idea of employee participation is not always welcomed. I have known people who sat in their cubicles for eight to ten hours a day without ever being asked to take part in staff meetings, share their ideas or opinions or participate in organizational decision-making. At some point, I was one of those people.

To change an organization is not an easy task. As public administrators, we do not always know how our organizations will respond. However, we must exercise due diligence and try.

Submitted by Shirmel Hayden


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