Management Philosophy

Guiding Principles of the Management Philosophy

City Manager Michael C. Van Milligen


Step 1: Plan your work and work your plan

The plan needs to be driven by:
  • Engagement (employee, resident, customer)
  • Data that focuses on outcomes

Step 2: Input-Oriented

Team members should take advantage of the valuable input that can be provided by residents and employees for department decision-making.

Themes for effective use of the guiding principles include:
  • Believe that people of all cultures and backgrounds can provide valuable input
  • Understand the benefits of receiving input from others
  • Develop the processes that capitalize on the input of others, and work to remove barriers to participation
  • Understand the benefits of empowering others
  • Seek first to understand and then to be understood – Steven Covey
  • Motivate staff and encourage employee initiative

Step 3: Problem Solvers

Team members’ approach to issues should be to focus on what can be done to solve the problem.

Themes for effective use of the guiding principles include:
  • Create processes that help others be more creative problem solvers
  • Perceive problems as opportunities
  • Look to others to help solve problems
  • Develop an understanding of the various cultural approaches to conflict and learn skills to adapt
  • Encourage risk-taking
  • Practice flexibility and assume good intent from participants with whom you disagree
  • Understand that bureaucracies function best in black and white issues, while most issues are varying shades of gray

Step 4: Develop Partnerships

Team members can be more effective by developing partnerships with other departments and outside organizations.

Themes for effective use of the guiding principles
  • Form teams around defined tasks
  • Encourage employee involvement through problem-solving task forces
  • Develop team processes for decision-making and setting goals and objectives
  • Facilitate the group process and develop the ability to adapt to various communication styles
  • Form partnerships that reflect the variety of backgrounds and interests in the community that we serve

Step 5: Act with a sense of urgency

Success is about Planning, Partnerships and People leading to desired outcomes.

Management Style: Socratic


In my opinion, the City Manager’s job is three-fold in the work to create a viable, livable, and equitable community:

1) Most importantly, follow the policy direction of the Mayor and City Council.

2) Create processes and a data-driven, high-performance organization including resources that allow employees and partners to be successful.

3) Create an atmosphere for the successful investment of capital by private business, not-for-profits, and individuals, while not sacrificing community quality of life attributes.