When your work family experiences the worst – GovLoop.com

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 9/7/12 at 11:30 am.

Two weeks ago, my former association lost a long time employee after a rather short illness. He was just 57. He was very highly respected amongst his professional colleagues (of both political parties), his former colleagues, his high school friends, and pretty much anyone else who interacted with him. He was a social guy with a warm personality and made friends easily.

Most importantly, the younger staff looked to him as a mentor. There was no formal mentoring program in the office, but people gravitated towards him for advice, both professional and personal. He taught us how to dress like grown ups, how to navigate through legislation, and how to command respect from our elder colleagues and association members.

I never worked directly for him, but I knew him for 11 years, including 6 months as an intern and 9 years as a full time staffer, and I turned to him for advice countless times. Not being in the office anymore made me feel disconnected during his illness and the day of his passing, but the upbeat “Celebration of Life” that was held in his honor last week was a very comforting way for his work family to remember him.

This summer there have been several discussions about the work family and mentors on GovLoop. What happens when you lose a “work family” member? Have you ever worked in an office where this happened?

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Colorado Counties: Success and Challenges to New Media Use – GovLoop.com

Read the full post with comments here. Originally posted 6/21/12 at 1:30 pm

In April I wrote briefly about Commissioner Audrey Danner from Moffat County, Colorado and her efforts in using social media to connect with her constituents.

I had a chance to sit down with Commissioner Danner earlier this month at the Colorado Counties, Inc. summer conference and talk a bit more about Moffat County using Facebook and some of the challenges surrounding social media in general. Moffat County is in rural northwest Colorado. The county is almost the size of the state of Connecticut, yet has a population of only about 13,000. (Connecticut’s population….3.5 million.)

For the most part, Danner is alone in her use of Facebook at the county level. The two other county commissioners do not currently use social media tools to communicate, preferring to stick with more traditional methods for now. Though electronic communications do work for large segment of population, the commissioners feel that the kind of interactions that come from face-to-face communications still can’t be replicated online. County residents are encouraged to interact with the commissioners and have an opportunity to publicly address issues at the beginning of each commission meeting. The commissioners make other public appearances known so that residents can chat with them.

For Danner, her Facebook experience started as just a personal page a few years ago before her last campaign. She allowed citizens to be her friends online, and they got to know a bit about her. She said it made her “real” to her constituents, not just another elected official. She regularly shares county events and happenings, as well as what she does as a county commissioner, including budget meetings, economic development presentations, discussions on bringing broadband to Moffat County, etc. She sees it as an easy way for people to talk to her, make her easily accessible, encourage back and forth discussion in a more friendly manner than a formal commission meeting. The discussions on the page page are still professional, however, and if necessary she recommends discussion at county meetings or an e-mail message to discuss issues that might be better handled offline.

She is currently running for a second term as county commissioner and is considering a separate page for her upcoming reelection campaign to make the online separation between her current position and her campaign.

In the county offices, most Internet activity, especially social media, is prohibited by county staff while at work, mostly because of bandwidth issues. The biggest issue facing the county in this case, and many others like it, is rural broadband access. We talked at length about access issues gong back to the mid 1990s.

In my next piece, I will discuss rural broadband access, specifically in Colorado.

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