Core values shape the culture of city government

Published 7:34 am Sunday, January 12, 2014

Column: City View, by Chad Adams

It is a pleasure to provide a column to the Albert Lea Tribune at the beginning of a new year as the city will establish new goals this month for the next few years but also to provide reflection on our successes and achievements as an organization and community in the past year.

Chad Adams

Chad Adams

I speak frequently to organizations and in this column about achieving our mission statement to “deliver exceptional services that enhance the quality of life for current and future generations.” The city has adopted value statements that have complemented our achievements well in 2013.

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One of our core value statements is innovation: “We will embrace new ideas and continually seek opportunities to maximize our potential.”

Several weeks ago, Mayor Vern Rasmussen and I had the honor of attending a ceremony at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to receive a statewide award for innovation of our Process Improvement Teams (aka PIT crews) we created in the organization. We were proud to receive this award because it recognizes our employee engagement and willingness to improve services to the community and provide more efficiency within the organization. I commend our employees from all departments for working together in the PIT crews to achieve our mission statement.

Another good example of innovation, collaboration and planning, which are also core value statements, was the Broadway reconstruction project. We were able to take input from the community the past few years and deliver a great product that will serve the community well for current and future generations. The tree box filters and rain garden integrated into the project will provide cleaner water entering Fountain Lake. The city has received several positive comments on the bumpouts, which have provided better pedestrian movement in the downtown to support our local businesses.

Appreciation and pride are other core value statements. We have been fortunate and proud to have strong collaborative partners with the Broadway project, including the donations of tree guards from Lou-Rich, funding from the state of Minnesota and Shell Rock River Watershed District, and all the advocacy and event planning from the Downtown Association, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

Within the organization to demonstrate appreciate and pride, one of our city PIT crews recommended an “employee of the quarter” recognition, which has been implemented and recognizes the outstanding service our employees are providing to the community.

Implementation of a new financial system has been a large project for the organization in 2013. While I commend our staff and the public for being patient with the change in the system, it will ultimately provide better service to the public and organization, which complements our core value statement of Integrity: “We will adhere to the highest standards of fiscal responsibility and ethical conduct in a manner that inspires public confidence and trust.”

In addition to the new financial system, the city continues to add more detail and analysis on long-term financial management and capital improvement planning to help us make the best cost-effective decisions for the community. The city also continued to conduct three neighborhood picnics this past year to engage with the community, be more transparent, and build more confidence and trust in local government.

While I have already discussed planning as a core value statement in this column, there are a few more achievements from 2013 that necessitate recognition. One example is the completion of our airport project and receiving the Minnesota Council of Airports Award for 2013 this past April.

The project involved a lot of patience and hard work by our staff, contractors and consultants, but the end product was a result of great planning. Other examples of good planning in 2013 included the creation of a “diversified central district” surrounding the downtown to provide more flexibility and density in land use. The end goal is to revitalize downtown and make the area more pedestrian-friendly.

The city kept the future in mind while planning for the new convenience stores on Bridge Avenue. It did take several months to work out details of the Kwik Trip project, but in the end a new traffic signal was installed without city or county tax dollars. The city also worked with Hy-Vee to obtain an easement without cost to city taxpayers for realignment of Plaza Street, which is scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Respect is the last remaining core value statement, which has resulted in progress within the organization. In 2013, we completed respectful workplace training, continued to educate our employees weekly on customer service tips, via our internal newsletter, and have discussed the ideal culture that we want to achieve in coming years.

Our ideal culture involves executing our mission statement and value statements, establishing challenging goals, recognizing achievements and being more humanistic and encouraging — rather than avoiding conflict, depending on others to take care of problems and being more oppositional and conventional when we approach new ideas.

We recognize it will take a number of years to achieve our ideal culture, but 2013 was a great start toward recognizing where we are and where we want to be in the future to deliver exceptional services. I commend our staff, mayor, Albert Lea City Council and the community for working with us to achieve our goals and for being engaged in improving the quality of life in the community.

I look forward to more progress in 2014 and sharing our goals with the public after our goal setting session in a few weeks.

If you have any suggestions on projects, goals, or the direction of the city, please feel welcome to contact my office or your City Council member to discuss in more detail.


Chad Adams is the city manager for Albert Lea.