Context - A Resort Town For The Rich And Famous
You'd think that working for a municipal government in a city famous for its natural beauty, and attracting superstarts from the rich and famous, and the entertainment industry would be a pleasure.
In fact, our customer contact contacted us with help, because they has some rather unique factors that resulted in some special needs regarding dealing with angry customers. Here's a few of the points:
- They had a huge seasonal surge in population during their busy seasons -- during the Winter, and during the Summer. In fact, during their high seasons, influx of visitors resulted in a population FIVE TIMES that which existed in their low seasons. Some were tourists staying for a week or two. Others kept villas and similar estates, which they inhabited only for a short period of time each year. In addition they had a lot of condo owners and time share visitors.
- As a result, many of the visitors were not tourists, per se, since they owned property there, but neither did they have ties to the permanent community. Still, they paid taxes on their properties and had to abide by the municipal laws.
- This particular municipality contained a number of the HUGELY RICH, in addition to the semi permanent employees who served them, and who were challenged by relatively low wages in addition to huge costs of living.
- The municipality was involved in a much higher level of subsidized housing, primarily to ensure there were somewhat affordable living spaces for low wage workers.
- Business owners in the area were highly stressed by the seasonality of their businesses, and reluctant and occasionally hostile to regulations and policies (eg. health inspection rules for restaurants, signage issues, etc) established by the municipality. Needless to say, businesses were not terribly welcoming to city workers.
- Finally, the municipality is a very "green" one, introducing regulations to make the area more inviting for people interested in energy conservation and so on. Once again, that had an impact on businesses, and they did not always take kindly to government employee visits.
After conducting our usual needs assessment process, it was obvious that this location had some unique requirements. One of the most unusual was the number of wealthy people who visited there, owned property and had a sense of entitlement due to the taxes they paid, and by virtue of their fame and fortune. Another need that was prominent was the problem of managing and operating municipal housing with a somewhat transient population of lower paid people in the service industry.
In the end we ran two full day seminars for most of the staff - totalling about 70 people. We used a split model for delivery as follows:
- Group one attended two half day morning sessions on consecutive days.
- Group two attended to half day afternoon sessions on consecutive days.
This worked out well because it allowed learner to reflect on the first half day's learning, and come back with questions and comments in the second half.
Attendees came from a wide variety of municipal occupations. We had:
- restaurant inspectors
- signage law enforcers
- front office staff who often bore the brunt of angry transient residents complaining they had to follow the same laws as everyone else, and expecting preferential treatment.
- By law enforcement officer (parking, etc)
- municipal housing staff
- a few police officers
By including scenarios from the needs assessments we were able to make the seminar both relevant and "real".