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Ott describes his ‘collaborative’ style to city staff

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 by Austin Monitor

New City Manager Marc Ott held a reception for more than a hundred city employees Tuesday to get to know the men and women he will be working with on a day-to-day basis. Ott made some public remarks in the Council chambers to reassure any city staffers nervous about the arrival of a new manager from outside the organization, then held an informal gathering in the staff bullpen area.


“When there’s a change at the top, people are concerned about what it means. But I want you to be calm about that,” Ott said. “I’m not here to turn your world upside down. I don’t intend to do that. I’m not going to tell you that the sky is any color other than blue. I want you to be calm.”


Ott told the department heads and other high-ranking employees he would have an ‘open door’ policy and would seek their input on key issues. “My job is to provide leadership, and as much as that is my job, I’m also looking at all of you as very valuable to this organization and as being my teachers. My approach to doing things is really facilitative, collaborative,” he said. “I think that a good idea is a good idea regardless of where it comes from. I want critical thinking, I want your opinions and your perspectives even if they’re different from mine.  I’m not about command and control. I start out with you in the context of trust. I trust you all. I give you that from day one.”


Ott also fielded questions from staffers about his favorite food (chocolate chip cookies), his hobbies (drawing and painting), and his management style. “I’m pretty low key in my style most of the time, I speak softly most of the time. I know how to speak loudly and how to be direct,” he said. “But I prefer to be collaborative and I prefer to be team-based. I think that department directors and assistant directors have a lot to do with the success of the organization.”


Filling some of those key positions will be at the top of Ott’s to-do list during the next few weeks. “I have a number of vacancies in the organization at the department head level and even in the City Manager’s office,” he told reporters after his meeting with staff. “So I’m really going to have to focus on getting those positions filled so I can really be fully staffed to address the major issues.”

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