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National Association of Counties * Washington, D.C.      Vol. 33, No. 3 * February 12, 2001

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So Many Decisions, So Little Time

Every public administrator faces difficult decisions and job responsibilities from time to time. Firing an employee, telling co-workers about the death of a long-time colleague, announcing a reduction in force, for example, are extremely difficult things to do whether you are new to the job or a seasoned veteran.

On the other hand, there are the difficult but happy decisions to make, such as whether to offer a promotion to a hard-working colleague or attend the graduation of an employee who went back to school based on your advice as a mentor.

Being a Human Resources Director means that you get to experience a concentrated dose of these kinds of decisions regularly, but that doesn’t make tough decisions any easier when they have to be made.

Among the toughest decisions are those you make about yourself and your own career. Is it time to retire? Should I accept the offer of another job? Despite all your training and all your experience, these particularly personal decisions are the kind most likely to keep you up all night or distracted all day. The HR Doctor’s advice has always been to “get by with a little help from your friends.” In the case of these most personal decisions, even the HR Doctor needs help once in a while.

In 30 years as an HR director and county administrator, only three times have I ever

ritten a letter announcing a move to a new job, but that has just happened again.

The HR Doctor is about to become the HR vice president of the 9,000-person Public Health Trust, including Jackson Memorial Hospital and 18 other hospitals and clinics in Miami. This is part of Miami-Dade County government, but also has a separate governing board of trustees.

The job has the “three C’s and an F” components important to the HR Doctor and to anyone else who considers a job change.

The first “C” is challenge. If you are among the most fortunate people on the planet, you get to work in a profession and in a place where your life is filled with positive challenge to do better, to do more, and to make the lives of other people better. Many of the HR Doctor’s readers would immediately say “That’s exactly why I chose a public service career.

The second C is collaboration. The chance to work with expert colleagues as part of a team.

The third “C” is compensation. Salary and benefit improvements are part of what we wish for our family and ourselves. This is a very important element, but it is not the most important. It is not as important as the first C or the “F” component. But then again if it’s there, it makes a recruitment effort more attractive and more likely to be successful.

Finally, the Big F — fun. Professional fun means being able to explore innovation, bring about change, and modernize and energize an organization and the people in it. I keep a button on my desk which reads “Fun is the most important discipline of all.” Personally, the HR Doctor would not consider any job that didn’t provide the opportunity to come home much more often than not saying, “I really enjoyed what I got to do today.” When we look at a new job opportunity, we weigh all those things and we talk to our families. I also talk to the “HR Dog” Kamala on a particularly long walk, and we make a decision.

Whatever that decision is, it is a great waste, and always produces a sad outcome, to spend too much time agonizing over what could have been. It’s hard to move forward without stumbling and falling if you are continually looking back at what decisions you made that would be made differently … “if you had only known.”

The good personal news about this decision to accept a new offer and new opportunity is that I get to keep many old friends. The HR Doctor continues to be part of county government and continues to be part of NACo. There will be more HR Doctor articles as long as NACo wants them written and you want to read them.

Looking to the future with eager anticipation (and a new ID card) . . . the HR Doctor wishes you all the best!


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