Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A tough gig

Anyone who thinks serving as city manager or county administrator is "just another job" might benefit from reading this article from the Tacoma New Tribune.

One cannot blame the reporters--Derrick Nunnally and Candice Ruud--for the headline, " Will Tacoma’s next city manager be a downgrade?"  Unless something has changed since I studied journalism in the 80s, copy editors write headlines.

I will take Nunnally and Ruud to task for going with an "if it bleeds, it leads" approach to writing an article.  Particularly disappointing is the observation, "During the past three years, three of the four (finalists for the Tacoma city manager job) have applied to manage cities smaller than Tacoma and been passed over."

Neither Nunnally nor Ruud have any idea why a given candidate was not offered a position.  They did not participate in the interviews or the subsequent discussions.  They do not know who the competing candidates were (internal or external) or how those candidates performed in their interviews.  There are numerous reasons a person might be "passed over" for a job opportunity that have no bearing on a candidate's qualifications.

This is just another example of the tired bias--bigger is better.  I will cut Nunnally and Ruud a bit of slack because they exist in the world of journalism where writers aspire to larger media outlets.  As a profession, journalism tends to see working for the Washington Post or New York Times as superior to the Tacoma New Tribune.

Tenure in a larger organization--whether that is a newspaper or a local government--is not a reliable indicator of talent.  The hiring process is far to subjective to draw any conclusions.  This is particularly true for city managers and county administrators where elected officials make the final decision.  An unsuccessful candidacy should not be held against a person regardless of their field.


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/politics-government/article149418979.html#storylink=cpy

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