The KUPMC Blog

Resources to support the work of public sector professionals

Certified Public Manager: Professional Development That Pays Dividends

November 30th, 2011 by KU PMC

One perennial need in public sector organizations is training that helps staff transition from a role of technical expertise—water quality inspector or budget analyst, for example—to a role requiring managerial and supervisory skills. Our Certified Public Manager® (CPM) program is designed to address skill gaps for new and experienced managers to help make sure they have the tools to perform at the best of their game and contribute to staff engagement.

CPM is a nationally-accredited management program and certification in which participants develop and strengthen their management skills through a competency-based curriculum.

The Kansas CPM program is offered on a calendar-year schedule and uses a blended learning approach of classroom hours, online learning, and outside assignments. Along the way, participants complete a capstone project focused on an opportunity for cost savings, revenue generation, process improvement or innovation in their workplace. Over 1,200 people have completed the Kansas program since 1993.

Agamani Sen, Chief Design Engineer for Douglas County, Kans. Public Works (left), participated in CPM in 2010. Her capstone explored how to increase the number of internal design-build projects in Public Works by applying staff expertise in culvert design and installation to some of the County’s smaller bridge projects; she determined that for every bridge that is able to be completed as an internal design-build instead of by consultants and contractors, there is the potential for approximately $150,000 in savings.

Put another way, the savings from any single bridge replacement completed in-house will pay for either one additional small bridge project or two to three culvert projects. In this era of shrinking revenues, this is a profound benefit to the County.

CPM program director Terri Callahan notes that for agencies to continue finding the resources to send staff to the program in such challenging economic times, “we have to make sure the program offers real benefits to sponsoring departments whether in the form of cost savings, process improvement or innovation via the capstone or in the enhanced skills that make for more effective managers.”

For Agamani Sen and Douglas County Public Works, the benefits were real on both sides. Her capstone was a project that Agamani long suspected could generate savings for the County, and participating in CPM allowed her to carve out the time to research the details and create a plan for implementation. Meanwhile, she found the class content to be extremely useful, with topics such as emotional intelligence and project management offering valuable perspectives on different styles of management and allowing her to gain insight about her own approach.

Beyond this, she says that “meeting people from so many organizations, to get outside of my own world, was inspirational.”

“What is inspiring to me,” says Craig Weinaug (KU MPA 1976), Douglas County Administrator, “is the dedication participating staff show to staying on top of their responsibilities while making the time to get all they can out of the program.”

Craig further notes that “Agamani’s project provides very tangible evidence as to why continuing investment in the education of public employees not only benefits the individual, but also the organization. This investment becomes even more critical when revenues are shrinking, and we have to be as smart as possible in how we spend the remaining tax dollars. We send employees to the CPM program every year, and we have always been very satisfied with the results.”

The Public Management Center is now accepting registrations for the 2012 CPM program which will begin in January with locations in the Kansas City area, Topeka, and Hays.

For more information about the program, visit or contact Terri Callahan at or (785) 296-2353.

What’s New? Our November Newsletter!

November 17th, 2011 by KU PMC

The November 2011 newsletter for the School of Public Affairs and Administration is now available! Check it out to learn more about:
• Our fabulous Director of Custom Courses, Jonathan Morris
• SPAA faculty member Chris Silvia
• A terrific supervisory training/collaboration project between the PMC and the City of Olathe
• And much more!

Why Agencies Keep Sending People to Our Certified Public Manager Program

June 17th, 2010 by KU PMC

Today, Harvard Business Review blogger Ron Ashkenas observed that one of the reasons why management training is so easy to cut in tight budget times comes from the lack of tangible connection between sending managers to training and results in the workplace.

Participants may note that they found the training valuable or enjoyable, but can anyone point to clear outcomes and improvements that stem from the training? Often they can’t. And the program gets cut.

Ashkenas offers a simple solution: ask participants to bring a business problem to the class to work on; have them develop a way to address that problem as part of the class; and insist that managers execute those plans after the training.

As part of our Certified Public Manager program, participants work with their supervisors to identify an area for improvement in their department or organization. Generally this takes the form of process improvement, revenue generation, or cost savings. During the year-long CPM course, they identify a problem or opportunity and develop a plan to address it.

Of course, we don’t have any say in whether these plans get implemented. Some don’t. But many do. Like this Olathe, Kansas recycling program that will likely save the city $500,000 a year.

And not only does the sponsoring agency see a direct relationship between the training program and a result in the workplace, but the participant has had the experience of going through this process–hopefully it sets them up to be able to think creatively and strategically again when they next run into a situation that seems to need improvement.

For both the agency and the CPM graduate, then, there’s a connection between the training and an outcome. Financial times are tough, but agencies keep sending folks to CPM. I believe Ashkenas helped us articulate why. Click here to read his full piece. Or click here to learn more about CPM.

So what do tangible training results look like? What do you need to see in yourself or others after a class for you to consider it a worthwhile investment? Tell us in the comments.

The Heart of True Leadership

June 15th, 2010 by KU PMC

Our delightful colleague Jonathan Morris kicks off another 3-day supervisory training class tomorrow. A class of Jonathan’s design, the class is titled The Heart of True Leadership and has this preface to the listing of course content areas:

“A supervisor is a leader. It takes sacrifice, commitment, and selflessness to lead effectively. Leaders understand what gives a sense of self-worth to themselves and the people they lead. Leaders use this understanding to create and maintain effective relationships, reduce conflict, transfer knowledge and build more productive teams.”

Fortunately, most of us have encountered some gifted and inspiring leaders in our lives and we’re better people for it.

Unfortunately, most of us have also encountered some leaders who were leaders only in the title of their position, whose behavior did not suggest an understanding of the responsibility to others that comes with it and was anything but inspiring.

The importance of strong, ethical leadership can become most evident when it’s lacking. The BP oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico is only the most recent example of this–though it is certainly among the more stunning examples.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter of the Harvard Business School recently offered a thoughtful reflection on BP’s CEO and what she calls the failure of leadership accountability in the disaster. It’s a useful example of what leadership isn’t. As Kanter notes:

“The public doesn’t expect miracles. Stuff happens. But it’s reasonable for stakeholders to expect that every possible step will be taken to prevent the stuff from happening in the first place and then to keep it from get out of control if it does. When stuff happens, a true leader should apologize quickly and take responsibility.” Click here to read more.

When have you experienced the benefit of a leader owning up to a situation that left everyone better off? Share your thoughts on what the heart of true leadership looks like in the comments below.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for the Training You Need

June 7th, 2010 by KU PMC

As we’re all well aware, the Great Recession has greatly affected many people’s workloads.

The Lawrence Public Schools superintendent succinctly captured why in a statement about administrative cuts this week: “make no mistake, the elimination of these 11.5 positions means that all of those duties will be shared by staff members who already have full-time responsibilities.”

This affects people at all levels of the organization. Supervisors can find themselves with more staff and units reporting to them when a colleague retires and the position is not filled.

For those in these supervisory roles who never received much training in how to effectively manage people–or who received such training years ago when management models were more authoritative than is appropriate for today’s collaborative workplace–this increased responsibility can create real strains.

If this describes your situation, consider taking an active role in advocating for the training you need. Budgets are indeed tight, but the modest expenditure on training can result in huge productivity gains if the entire unit becomes more functional as a result.

And the few hundred dollars spent on a class still represents a huge savings compared with the costs of positions that have been cut.

If you’re staggering under the weight of expectations for which you don’t feel adequately prepared, be strategic: identify the problem with a solution in hand by presenting the information about the training course you need.

The Public Management Center’s The Heart of True Leadership: Supervisory Training for the Public Workforce is scheduled for next week and for September and is one route to address this gap; other organizations have options, too. Find the one you need and find a way for your organization to get you there.

Complimentary Webinar on the 2020 Workplace coming up on Thursday

May 3rd, 2010 by KU PMC

Workplace productivity firm i4cp is holding a complimentary webinar on Thursday, May 6 examining the trends that will shape the workplace in 2020 to assist organizations with succession planning initiatives.

It will feature Jeanne Meister and Dr. Karie Willyerd and cover topics featured in their new book, The 2020 Workplace: How Companies Are Innovating and Using Social Media To Attract, Develop and Engage Employees, Harper Collins, 2010. Click here for webinar registration information.

The Public Management Center’s Emerging Leaders Academy was developed to assist public organizations with succession planning by offering an opportunity for promising non-managerial staff. The next ELA begins in June and will be offered in Lawrence and in Mission in the Kansas City metro area. Click here to learn more.

Supervisory Training scheduled for Dodge City

April 27th, 2010 by KU PMC

The KU Public Management Center is holding a 2-Day Basic Supervisory Training in Dodge City on May 12 & 13, 2010. It will take place at Mariah Hills Golf Course and run from 8:30 – 4:30 each day. The cost for this 2-day course is $275.00/participant.

Space is limited. Please contact Beverly in the PMC office at 785-296-2353 for registration information.

Succession Planning in High Performance Organizations: ASTD complimentary webinar tomorrow

April 20th, 2010 by KU PMC

We just came across this notice for a free webinar tomorrow from noon to 1pm (central time) offered by the American Society for Training and Development. Sorry for the late notice, but here’s the info:

Tony Bingham, President and CEO of ASTD, and Kevin Oakes, CEO of i4cp, will reveal findings from the study, Improving Succession Plans: Harnessing the Power of Learning and Development, and discuss the critical trends that will help your organization align learning strategies and practices to long-term goals and organizational success.

Click here for more information or to register.

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