In this issue, the member spotlight submission is from Jennifer McMahon, Director of Human Resources for the City of St. Charles. Jennifer is a recent addition to the IPELRA Board of Directors as an At-Large Member.
When asked to complete the member spotlight, Jennifer chose the question: What lessons have you learned in your career that have made you successful?
Check my ego. When any of us allow our egos to drive the effort, we are unproductive and damaging. This has always been a challenge for me; like any human being, I assume. I try to take a pause before responding emotionally to an email, or a comment. I try to choose my battles and ask the question, "Is fighting back on this issue going to get us to the end goal?" I try to remember that sometimes silence is a better response than any type of defensiveness. I ask questions to make sure that I have all the information and full understanding of the situation.I try to remember that the person on the other side of me also has insecurities, pressures, and an ego and I ask myself how I can give them the ability to tend to those without compromising the overall goal. A great book that has helped me is Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler. It breaks down the elements of a conversation and gives you tips on how to stay focused on the shared goal and not get caught up in trying to "win" the conversation.
As local government practitioners, we have an obligation to our taxpayers that we are utilizing their funds responsibly, ensuring the public trust, and serving the public interest. This is hard when encountering the missions of employees and unions. They have goals too and sometimes those overlap with the organizational goals and sometimes those don't. When we are navigating those waters, we have to realize that emotions run high. We are often talking about someone's livelihood, their status, their money, or their health. It's a tough balancing act and I'm always learning from books and articles, organizations like IPELRA, my colleagues, and my fellow employees (on both sides of the table). Like Tim McGraw sings, always be humble and kind.
Read Jennifer's full biography.
Check out more Member Spotlight profiles. (please note, IPELRA membership is required to view full profiles)