Unused Capacity at City Hall


Unused capacity exists in many aspect of life. An elderly couple lives alone in a house with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. Thus, the couple may be said to have unused housing capacity. On the freeway, driver-only vehicles display unused passenger capacity. Congress is crippled by the unused capacity for compromise.

A different kind of unused capacity was discussed forty years ago by Claire E. Vough. In a book, Tapping the Human Resource, Vough explained: “Nobody in this world works at top capacity. I saw a survey once that said the average person works at about 30 percent of capacity … The point is, everyone has a great deal of untapped reserve capacity.”

Vough’s point applies to the employees who work for the City of Los Angeles. Based on my 27 years Downtown, I can report that the skills and abilities City employees bring to the job are typically underutilized. I can also report that many employees feel trapped in a work environment that expects too little of them.

It’s my opinion that City employees could be far more productive than their “leaders” allow them to be. Employees are not blind; they can see for themselves that the civil service system has been corrupted — that the politicians run City government. That lowers their morale — and their productivity.

Mayor Villaraigosa doesn’t know anything about managing job performance. He seems not to give a damn about morale or productivity. He spends 60% of the budget on employees, supports personnel practices that inhibit employee performance, and bills the tax-payers for a corrupted, under-achieving civil service!

Fortunately, Los Angeles will soon have a new Mayor. Hopefully, it will be Eric Garcetti. I’m confident he will honor his Oath of Office and enforce the civil service provisions of the City Charter. I’m also confident that Mayor Garcetti will pay close attention to the following words from The Greatest Management Principle in the World, by Michael LeBoeuf: “In today’s work world, few drop dead from exhaustion but many curl up and die from under-satisfaction … To get people excited about a job, the job must usually have four key ingredients: 1) a meaningful goal; 2) a way to keep score…; 3) control over goal achievement; and 4) a meaningful reward system.”

Long haul, the best way to control the cost of City government is to tap the unused capacity of 50,000 City employees. That would require the strong and effective leadership of the City’s new Mayor. That’s why I’m supporting Garcetti!

Send your questions and comments to samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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Trouble-Finder at City Hall

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