Collaboration in Creating Positive Civic Experiences—The Importance of Working Together for Change

Written by CivicPlus

An Emphasis on Group and Collective Learning Can Make a Real Difference

No two civic experiences are the same. Three individuals in three different communities across the country could seek out their local government clerk requesting the same type of record with each interaction being unique and producing outcomes that all fall at different points of the spectrum in terms of positive, negative, or neutral civic experiences. It’s impossible to predict all the challenges staff may face daily. While it would be ideal to have the ability to forecast the circumstances of every civic interaction, each resident brings their own distinct needs, personalities, backgrounds, communication styles, and technological skills to the table. The one constant between all residents is that they desire a positive and productive experience achieved through process optimization.

Residents and staff face common shortages in resources like time, so as a local government leader, it’s essential to do everything you can to ensure your processes are streamlined, your communication is clear and concise, and that a final and personalized solution is offered that is both efficient and effective.

How do you make a positive civic experience the most likely outcome? Achieve and maintain a high level of preparedness and ensure collaboration is something you’re prioritizing and actively seeking out within and for your organization.


Collaboration: The Fuel of Optimization and Engagement

It’s not always easy to find opportunities to meet up with and problem-solve with peers in your field due to limitations in resources, but that doesn’t make it any less crucial. According to Salesforce, 86 percent of employees note a lack of collaboration as a contributing factor in workplace failures. In the case of local government interactions, those failures often manifest as residents walking away from a civic encounter having had a negative experience that may keep them from engaging in the future or by spreading the word to other community members that their experience was poor. This can have a cascading negative effect that can permeate a community indefinitely.

Collaboration opportunities provide you with a chance to share valuable experiences, lessons learned, successes and failures, unique ideas for solutions, and an overall fresh perspective on how you can best meet the widely varied needs of members of your community in a digital world that’s evolving at a rapid pace. For someone new to the profession without an established deep network of professional contacts and peers, it could be overwhelming or simply unknown what solutions are available that are the most effective.

Collaborative engagements work as a catalyst to action in that they show you what’s possible with the available tools, and what’s working for those completing the same or similar tasks to you. Imagine attending a learning event or an online seminar and in a break-out session, you listen to someone describe an affordable, simple solution that could automate a clumsy, manual process that has been crippling your entire department. Not only do you learn from that person, but you potentially take them with you as a future contact or resource as you grow your network and information base.


Improve Efficiencies by Collaborating with Peers

Being the experts in your fields can feel isolating, particularly when it comes to local government staff that may work solo or as a part of a small team. It’s not always easy to network even if resources like time and budget were not factors, and they, unfortunately, are in most cases. This adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging process of finding opportunities for staff to work with peers and leaders in their field to make meaningful change and process enhancements while staying within the means of your organization.

See the types of benefits you expect from working with and learning from other experts in your field:

Spark Innovation Inspiration

The quickest and easiest way to save resources for your community and organization is to innovate—working closely with peers in your field to discuss digital solutions to common problems. There is a great deal of experience to draw from in the knowledge bank of your fellow local government workers. Meeting with them about the technology and digital enhancements that have made the most significant difference for them and their communities can be a considerable help. Hearing first-hand how fellow communities were able to increase revenue and become more efficient while also delivering high rates of citizen and staff satisfaction can be incredibly powerful and helpful in paving your path or sharing your excellent result.

Sometimes workflows get stagnant, technology gets outdated, or lines of communication experience interruptions and the solution is not always obvious. Find inspiration in the successes and failures of your peers as you get face time with fellow local government workers interested in improving the civic experiences of residents of their community.

Attract and Retain Talent

People want to work where they know they’ll be able to grow in their role, and existing employees want to do everything they can to hone their skills and be the best they can be within their roles. A reliable way to show staff that you’re invested in their career development is to provide them with opportunities to learn from and collaborate with peers, particularly in engagements and experiences that are designed to maximize the learning potential in the most concentrated and focused way possible, such as conferences, meet-ups, and seminars. In these types of settings, you can soak up feedback from peers, learn about digital trends and innovative developments from experts in the field, and grow your network of resources that can assist you in the future in creating effective and efficient processes that give residents the type of experience they’re looking for and staff the satisfaction of making an impact and knowing that their investment in their own development paid off.


The Unrivaled Power of Collaborative Learning

The personal connections developed from collaborative learning opportunities establish and grow into life-long relationships that occur when peers interact closely, feed off one another’s energy, and network in ways that are impossible to replicate in solo or isolated settings.

Relationship Building

When it comes to building lasting, impactful professional connections, there is no substitute for being present with fellow experts in your field to share experiences and ideas. Having a curated learning environment, one where the interactions are guided and optimized by a third-party coordinator or host, to produce the most conducive atmosphere for collaborative learning, ensures peers focused on a common goal can get the most out of their time together.

Exposure to New Solutions, Technology, and Trends

Digital solutions are becoming more powerful and intuitive, and the next best thing is always just around the corner. How do you know where to start if you feel like you’re missing a key component of your digital toolkit?

If you are struggling to achieve optimal digital interactions with residents due to an outdated website, ask your neighboring communities for demos of the municipal website solution they use.


A Worthy Investment

Collaboration is just one piece of the civic experience puzzle, however, the more you make a conscious effort to include it as an approach in your strategy for how you plan to better serve your community day in and day out, you will undoubtedly see a payoff. Getting inspiration, fresh perspective, exposure to resource-saving digital solutions, a supportive network of peers and experts, and a growing knowledge base of adaptive resources can create a cycle of positive effects for your organization and community.