Twenty-seven Luzerne County government senior staffers are attending a three-day management retreat that started Wednesday.
County Manager Robert Lawton told County Council this week he believes this is the county’s first “large-scale training” in management practices, principles and theories.
“It’s going to get all of us speaking the same language to each other, regardless of our source of funding and regardless of the agencies that we lead,” Lawton said during his “state of the county” report Tuesday.
The training, which will cost around $15,000, was developed by the Commonwealth Centers for High Performance Organizations and has been adopted by many federal agencies and local governments throughout the country, Lawton said.
This “performance of the whole” approach shows managers how to change counterproductive workforce culture and engage employees at all levels, said Tony Gardner, who is providing the county training 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in a meeting room at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre.
During Wednesday’s training, Gardner showed the managers an organizational chart of a major courier company that puts top managers at the bottom of an inverted pyramid. The workers who deliver packages and have face-to-face interaction with customers are at the top of the company’s pyramid, followed by mid-level managers who support them.
County Chief Public Defender Steven Greenwald said he already picked up useful techniques during the first day of training and supports the concept of bringing managers together to work on team exercises that will make them more effective leaders.
“The goal is to create a whole unit working together, as opposed to eight separate divisions,” Greenwald said.
Another division head, J. Allen Nesbitt, who oversees correctional services, said training on how to maximize productivity of all workers is increasingly important due to county layoffs and other staff cuts.
“With the reduction of manpower, we have to solicit more involvement from all workers. Employees on the front line have ideas on how to do things better,” Nesbitt said.
“All employees can be leaders too, not just managers,” said Judicial Services and Records Division Head Joan Hoggarth.
Sheriff Brian Szumski said the training is driving home the point all departments share the same primary goal — serving taxpayers in the most efficient way possible.
“The focus is on customers, and what we can do better to serve them,” said Mary Dysleski, who oversees deeds, wills and marriage licenses.
The county’s two elected row officers under home rule — Controller Michelle Bednar and District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis — also are attending the sessions.
The county would pay significantly more sending workers individually to conferences that provide Commonwealth Centers training, Lawton said. Group training also should increase results because more managers are involved, he said.
As a follow to the training program, Lawton plans to conduct a public survey in the near future to obtain citizen input on county services that will help managers make decisions about programs and possible improvements.