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Monday, March 30, 2009

Another management coach for a Portland bureaucrat

It never ceases to amaze how many managers in the Portland city government can't do their jobs without having the taxpayers pay for them to have professional coaching. This practice came to prominence years ago when a wayward management coach hired by the Portland Development Commission set off a chain of hilarious events which culminated in the departure of several major face cards at that agency. More recently, it was revealed that the folks heading the city's Bureau of Development Services needed a paid coach. And now, lo and behold, it's time for the city's taxpayers to hire a coach for some manager or other in the city's Transportation Bureau.

The official request for proposals, posted last week, is here. It doesn't say who the transportation manager is who needs the coaching, and it doesn't say how much the coaching contract is going to cost. But it does indicate that just one manager will be helped, and that the person needs work in such areas as "Building Trust,... Emotional Intelligence,... Establishing Focus/Setting Direction,... Maintaining Personal Credibility,... Organizational Communications,... [and] Providing Direction...."

Having seen a few of these arrangements in the past, we'd bet that the coach has already been selected, and the proposal process is a mere formality. It would be interesting to know who the manager is who needs the coaching. Another of the mayor's unqualified bathroom buds, perhaps?

Comments (16)

Who needs the coaching?

It must be a honcho. The little guys get shifted off to things like "doing research on peak oil."

So now we're left with:

1. Susan Keil, Director
2. John Rist, Business Services Manager
3. Paul Smith, Planning Manager
4. Steve Townsen, Chief Engineer
5. Suzanne Kahn, Maintenance Group Manager
6. Eric Peterson, Maintenance Group Manager
7. Greg Jones, Dev. & Cap. Program Group Manager
8. Lavinia Gordon, System Management Group Manager

I doubt it's the Director, so #1 is out. I'm too lazy to handicap the rest, so
I'll take a wild guess that #8 needs the coaching.

They definitely need coaching in how to respond to emails. I sent Susan Keil an email on March 16 about the sorry condition of NW 23rd and have yet to hear anything from her. Maybe coaching will help her respond. BTW, I also emailed our mayor about the same matter and haven't heard a word from him either.

Paul Smith is another one who never responds to E mails or phone messages.

At the next level down, Andrew Abei has someone who answers his phone who tells you the "Mr. Abei never speaks to the public."

What a group!

The only coaching they need is in how to write and implement a solid termination agreement. No amount of "coaching" is going to change an ineffective manager to a leader overnight. This is a terrible waste of money and a disservice both to the Department of Transportation and the taxpayer.

The purpose of the coach will be training high level bureau staffers in how to help Adams defeat a recall effort. I'm sure they will be hiring one for OMF as well.

The city must hire coaches because it doesn't hire competent people to fill management positions. The focus is not on competence, because there is a risk that competent managers will think for themselves and argue against feeding the Project Beast.

The Beast must eat! That still cracks me up. It's so funny because it's so true. Thanks, Bill.

Instead, the focus is on diversity hiring, which is all well and good, except when the people the city hires can't do their jobs without a lot of help. Then, they get coached into submission. Maybe I'm not progressive enough, though. Maybe coaching is the only way to achieve diverse management.

I wouldn't even care about the coaches, and I would celebrate our city's diverse workforce, if the managers didn't end up pissing our money away to feed the Project Beast after all the coaching is done.

"Instead, the focus is on diversity hiring, which is all well and good, except when the people the city hires can't do their jobs without a lot of help."

The focus is on hiring friends and family and loyal crew. Sam hires a reporter to take her off the case, his culture person has no background, but ran his campaign. Randy gives his most loyal lieutenants top salaries even if they need coaching.

Funny, after posting here about not receiving a reply to my email to Susan Keil and Mayor Adams, I suddenly got a reply from Sam's office. He said, among other things, that repaving can't be done on West Burnside because "revenue has not kept up with increased costs." "Increased costs" like hiring coaches!

Instead of a coach, how about buying a teleprompter that everyone could use?

Well having been under the direction of Commissioner creepy that person may be damaged goods in need of rebuilding.
It's either the coach or a fat severence package.

Either way the taxpayers are ____________.

Rule # 1 for managers; "You don't get your honey where you get your money." Pass this on to Adams.

I was a top level manager for local government for over two decades and everytime a member of the public e-mailed me,I responded THAT DAY!! If not me, a member of my staff. Who the hell is paying THEIR salaries??? They seem to forget that soon after the probation period wears off.... Let them seek other employment............

My favorite line in the whole thing:

4. The city has assigned a project manager to oversee the successful proposer's work and provide support as needed.

This really boggles the mind. A manager to oversee a manager's trainer and help, if I read this right?

Hello, make work.

He [office of Sam Adams] said, among other things, that repaving can't be done on West Burnside because "revenue has not kept up with increased costs."

Let's remember that line the next time the Burnside-Couch couplet project comes up.

"revenue has not kept up with increased costs."

It seems that there's no interest to borrowing money to correct infrastructure problems because all time and attention has to be focused on how to borrow and tax the money to make major league soccer a reality.

And, yes. In an economy where people compete fiercely for existing jobs, surely someone could be hired with the requisite skills and who did not need to be TRAINED to do their job.

"Shovel Ready" employees, dontcha know . . .

I applaud the City's efforts to promote diversity by hiring managers representing various degrees of incompetence.

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