Gloucester partners with college for manager leadership training

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Gloucester city department heads are undertaking a series of leadership training workshops designed by the Van Loan School at Endicott College’s Center for Leadership, with plans to eventually offer similar training to all city employees.
Department heads completed five sessions over the course of 10 weeks, with each session lasting four hours and led by instructor Joseph Tragert, vice president of market development at EBSCO Information Services in Ipswich.
Each session focused on a particular topic, according to Personnel Director Donna Leete. The topics included dynamics of leadership, communications, teams and teamwork, managing conflict and organizational stress, and project management.
In between the sessions, Endicott gave the department heads access to a web portal containing the training materials and followed-up with articles and videos relevant to the course content, Leete said.
Leete and Richard Weissman, director of Endicott’s Center for Leadership, developed the course content based on a training needs assessment conducted of the city’s department heads.
“I’m really excited my department is moving in a new direction in terms of employee development and engagement,” Leete said, adding that Mayor Sefatia Theken has been very supportive. “The other thing I see as a real positive value is that participating as a group in this training really solidifies the team.”
Christopher Sicuranza, Gloucester’s director of constituent services, said the training is actually part of a comprehensive wellness program for employees, a program that addresses physical wellness as well as mental wellness and a healthy work environment.
He said Mayor Theken has a background in health care, so having an employee wellness program that recognizes the importance of mental health was a priority for her.
“You can always be enlightened and empowered to be the best version of yourself,” Sicuranza said. “Whether it’s conflict resolution, communications, or even just sharing different things around constituent services. … It’s important to to understand what the latest case studies provide.”
Sicuranza said Theken wanted the initiative to be led by the department managers and the employees themselves, by incorporating what employees wanted out of a training program.
Leete said the program is important for building an environment where people want to come to work and stay and grow in their careers.
“We’ve got to have an eye for succession planning, and there’s no reason why city government can’t be an exciting and vibrant work environment,” she said.