Building strong team key to success in business, government

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Editor’s note: This is the 3rd and final article reference our interview with Rep. Bob Steinburg

CHOWAN COUNTY — Trying to achieve efficiencies in government is not much different from such an effort in private industry. You need to squeeze out every ounce of waste that you can, hire the best people that you can, give them upward mobility, and decrease employee turnover.

In private industry, managers have the ability to eliminate unprofitable line items but in government this is much harder to do — even at the state level. We have heard for years about line-item veto ability at the Presidential level but that has never materialized.


In government, every expense needs to be scrutinized in order to determine the most efficient use of manpower and financial resources. Government managers need to find where the money is being wasted, right now, before expansion of any program.

Steinburg says that the civil service mentality — which pushes managers into larger positions with more assistants and higher pay — is clearly a self-serving method of governing. Many managers put themselves in the position where they restrict the upward mobility of personnel, for personal reasons, causing employees to seek employment elsewhere. In so doing, they suppress good talent.

Employees that start at the bottom, work their way up the ladder and achieve good results, should be rewarded with promotional opportunities that will allow them promotional pay and bonuses. Some employees, however, know that with the manager they are reporting to, little chance exists to improve their job position, and this leads to rehiring and new job training.

Steinburg believes much of the money used for job training could be reduced, if governments can keep employees in whom investments have been made. When considering how much to pay an individual for a specific job, the cost of training and ultimate retraining (when the employee leaves) has to be a part of the decision process.

This is not just a message; it is a mindset, according to Steinburg. What is needed is to build a team concept that is beneficial for all, not just a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude.

There will always be attrition due to retirement, illnesses and the like. If we can identify how much money is being spent on training and analyze why people are leaving government employment, we can achieve a better long-term outcome for the taxpayers that we serve.

In this regard, we need to consider what we are spending and why we are spending it. Long-term capital expenditures, not only should be bid out as is currently required, but we should also have the input of private citizens that can review the work to be performed, the bids received, and advise the commissioners, the school board or whatever other governmental entity is involved, in order to make certain that the results achieved, at the most economical cost.

In this manner, waste can be minimized through efficient bidding and construction cost. In so doing, government will have the money to meet its obligations to its greatest resource — employees that get the job done day in and day out.