California Public Sector CIO Academy 2014 From left to right, Rich Sanchez, CIO of Los Angeles County; Marybel Batjer, secretary of the California Government Operations Agency; and James Goldstene, undersecretary of the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency offer real-world management advice Tuesday at the California Public CIO Academy in Sacramento.
Photo by: Jessica Mulholland

Government Execs Give Survival Tips

by / February 25, 2014

Communicating bad news and hiring millennials were a few issues tackled by a panel of state and local government executives Tuesday at the California Public CIO Academy in Sacramento.

Speaking during an “Executive Survival Guide” panel, Marybel Batjer, secretary of the California Government Operations Agency, said bad news should be communicated directly and honestly -- and to individuals rather than groups. Executives also should expect to deliver the message a few times.

“People don’t hear things when they're scared,” she said. “You’ll need to repeat yourself.”

Batjer also said state agencies need to rethink how they hire and manage employees as more 20-somethings enter the workforce.

“We bring them on board and give them paper and pencil, put them in a cubicle and tell them to work from 9 to 5,” she said. “That’s nothing that they can relate to.”

Batjer said agencies need to update testing procedures, be more flexible on remote work rules and eliminate some of the jargon that dominates workplace conversation. “Otherwise,” she said, “we’re going to miss out on a lot of rich minds that we want in public service.” -- Steve Towns