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 multi-faceted 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.

4) By your actions let people know that you care with the goal of providing them hope that they can achieve their personal goals.