By Anna Lothson
The village of Oak Park is ready to test its culture of performance management.
Following a finance committee meeting Monday evening, the Oak Park Village Board gave the green light for village management to develop the performance management model across a series of departments.
Performance management is not a new concept in Oak Park, but the revamped program that Oak Park approved last year is aimed at ensuring performance goals across village departments are met. Essentially, performance management is a multi-phase process involving a system of checks and balances so Oak Park properly aligns its resources toward strategic goals.
The process started with the hiring of James Harris, who joined the finance team last spring as budget and finance manager, a newly created position to address budget efficiencies and cohesion among departments. Harris, who brings private sector experience to the job, will help guide individual departments though the program and help engage employees.
To test how this program can work, managers from multiple departments — public works, fire, police and economic and community development (business services, building and property standards, housing and planning) — engaged in a pilot program to outline their functionality and five-year vision.
As part of the program, leaders from each of the departments listed priorities and how theirs visions can be achieved. They included specific action items for achieving their goals.
The finance committee gave unanimous approval for the recommendations, which will be considered by the village board next week.
Village Manager Cara Pavlicek explained that prior to 2005 Oak Park had a "robust" performance management program. Last year, she said, it was determined to reintroduce the concept from a newly created program built from scratch.
"There will be evolution and ebbs and flows as we go through this," she said. The pilot departments have roughly a month timeline to come back and report on next steps. This also coincides with the start of Oak Park's budget-planning process.
The performance management program is aimed at addressing budget and performance inefficiencies and will help bridge gaps between opportunities that might be being overlooked. The job of the manager's office will be to bridge gaps, help departments ease through this transition and create stronger links between departments.
"I think it's the manager's job that we don't let the departments operate as silos," Pavlicek said.
The program will employ cross-training across departments so everyone is working on the same page.
The pilot program is considered the first phase of the performance management program. The second phase involved analyzing operations and management, while the third involved other departments.
Focus in phase one, as outlined in a village memo, was to confirm or create "governance-level" priorities or priorities which the village board will use as part of their role in the program. These priorities and associated visions and action steps will be formally approved at the village board's March 4 regular meeting.
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