Harvard Recognizes Olathe Program

Harvard University recently recognized the City of Olathe Supervisory Leadership Training program.

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government named Olathe’s program as one of 111 Bright Ideas this year. The Bright Ideas program was developed under the Innovations in American Government Awards program to recognize and promote creative government initiatives and partnerships.

Olathe identified a need to create a supervisory leadership skills training program in spring 2010. Instead of developing an internal program, the City decided an external provider of public sector leadership training would provide a higher quality product at a more affordable price. It chose the Public Management Center at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration.

The Public Management Center worked with Olathe’s Employment Development Committee and City Manager Michael Wilkes to create a program curriculum that was innovative while reflecting Olathe’s vision, values and mission.

The Supervisory Leadership Training program promoted collaboration by pairing different departments and combined supervisors’ daily responsibilities with the City’s priority outcomes. The program revealed the importance of daily coaching, data-based decision making, and performance measurement and evaluation.

Olathe’s 212 supervisors completed the three-day course within 10 months.

Surveys collected after completion of the program indicated that 96 percent of participants thought the training was effective. The program also inadvertently improved the City’s annual performance review process by encouraging supervisors to provide more feedback, recognition and coaching to improve employee performance.

This is the third year of the Bright Ideas program. Other organizations recognized included school districts, county, city, state and federal agencies as well as public-private partnerships. They were selected by a team of policy experts from academics and the public sector.