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The HR Doctor Is In

Finding Similarities in Ireland

Dear Readers,

The HR Doctor and his family just returned from a wonderful vacation in County Kerry, Ireland. Besides seeing incredible scenery, the HR Doctor spent time with his colleagues in county government.

The people were very friendly and very civil - especially with regard to the morning tea break, which is built in to the work schedule. They were eager to find out what was happening in local government public administration, especially county government, in the United States, and were just as eager to help a visitor understand the ways and means of local public service in their part of the world. Here are some conclusions which the HR Doctor thinks would be helpful and fun to share with you ...

  1. A vacation anywhere in the world by a county official should include a visit with counterparts at the destination. It made the trip more memorable and thoughtful for the whole family. Feeding the curiosity of others to learn about your part of the world makes for a far better time than just moving from bus stop to bus stop on a whirlwind tour. Besides, there is much to learn about professionally.
  2. While the resources, traditions, languages and current events differ, it was surprising how similar the issues were. People are proud of their choice of public service as a career and of the difference they make in the lives of people in their community. All have a strong interest in professional growth and the chance to learn from others. All are concerned with the future of the "next generation" of public administrators and support internships and mentoring relationships with students and schools.
  3. HR is increasingly viewed in the European Union, as in the United States, as an emerging "strategic partner" of top county management in its ultimate success in delivering all of its services. The mission statement of the Kerry County Personnel Department could well have been written in any county in America. The issues focused on improving customer services, equality of opportunity for employees, employee education and sound expenditure of limited resources.
  4. Kerry County is struggling with issues of "balance" - growth and economic development while retaining natural resource protection and enhancement; creating jobs and an educated workforce in an increasingly competitive environment; relations with the central government, cities and special districts, and the overall delicate balance between individual rights and the "common good." Sound familiar? This could be said of counties in California, Florida and all points in between (not to mention Hawaii and Alaska).
  5. The value of inter-county exchanges and visits is very great and hardly explored at all! It can lead to student, cultural, tourist and economic ties between the two areas. This is just what we need in an emerging "global economy." The Irish local governments are very much aware of this reality.

The HR Doctor had the great pleasure in playing a modest role in establishment of a formal exchange program with a county in California and an equivalent "department" in France. The benefits are very positive, very long lasting and very satisfying personally.

Want to know how to set up a "county friendship agreement"? It's easy. Select a region - perhaps with employee or citizen input. It can be an area which may already have cultural or economic ties to your own community, including areas in Africa, Latin America and Asia. There are very likely to be persons in the community willing to serve on a planning committee.

Write to the head of the local government in the region, letting the person know of your interest and asking for her or his thoughts about the idea. The HR Doctor is very confident that the rest will follow a natural and positive course from this easy start-up. Then enjoy the opportunities which will open and bring the family with you as you meet your colleagues!

Best wishes,
The HR Doctor

(The HR Doctor was written by Phil Rosenberg, director of Human Resources, Broward County, Fla.)


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