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Post-pandemic changes in local government

The pandemic has disrupted how local government leaders do their work, from virtualizing services like court hearings and building inspections, to initiating new HR policies for working from home, to its huge impact on many budgets.

These disruptions are a challenge, but also an opportunity to review your organization and determine how to respond to the new reality. By examining your organization systematically to see what is working well and what can be improved, you can get ahead of needed changes and respond proactively, instead of reactively after problems emerge.

While each review is unique, there are obstacles to peak performance that tend to surface again and again, especially in times of upheaval. Here’s a look at the most common ones.

Mismatch in the org chart. With all the changes caused by the pandemic, it’s helpful to examine whether duties still align with current positions and where potential improvements exist.

Policies that don’t match current needs. Whether it’s work from home or sick-leave policies, every organization needs clear, relevant policies and procedures.

Out-of-date technology. Rapidly changing conditions during the pandemic revealed a lack of investment in new or improved technology needed for efficient access by staff and the public. Technology upgrades are expensive, but often reap benefits that far outweigh the costs through labor-saving efficiencies.

An emphasis on clock-punching instead of performance. With more work being performed remotely, it’s important to establish and track performance measures based on outcomes.

“Because we’ve always done it that way.” The pandemic and the move to remote work quickly revealed steps in key processes that no longer add value, could be combined, or streamlined to save time and money.

Just as an annual physical exam looks for ways to prevent illness, an organization review looks for signs of organizational health or sickness. Is employee turnover high? Are similar functions being performed by more than one department or work group? What do customers (both internal and external) think of the services being provided?

An organization review usually pays for itself many times over in cost savings and increased productivity. It also provides managers with a new perspective that contributes to continuous improvement, which is invaluable in times like these.

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