Being a road manager is tough. For every successful project you complete for your community, there still may be unhappy residents with loud opinions. Even the most successful road manager still fields the occasional complaints from taxpayers. But not every negative comment should stop you in your tracks. Here are a few ways to manage your losses and celebrate your wins:
#1 Keep Your Ears Open
No matter how hard you work, you’re going to receive some complaints. It’s best to have a plan for how you’re going to receive them. It might be tough to listen, but listening is the only way to make sure your road network keeps improving.
For example, let’s say you receive this call from a local taxpayer: “The road I live on is full of cracks, but you’re fixing a different road that just had repairs a few years ago. What’s going on?”
First, don’t get defensive. It can be hard to hear people say negative things about the work you’re doing. But productive relationships start with letting people say what’s on their mind. After listening, there are many ways to move the conversation forward:
Remind Them of the Big Picture
Sometimes it’s easy for taxpayers to forget that the roads they drive on are part of a larger network of roads that you’re responsible for. Helping them look at the problem from a different perspective can give them a new level of understanding. Try being honest: make it clear that you can’t fix every road at once. In the long run, managing roads proactively saves money, but it requires a smart, prioritized plan.
Explain Your Treatment Plan
Even if you know how you’re going to address pavement preservation in your community, there’s a good chance your taxpayers don’t. Letting them know that you’ve got everything under control is a smart way to inspire confidence. If you know how the specific road they’re asking about fits into the plan, even better.
#2 Celebrate Your Wins
When you’re working in the public sector, wins can be few and far between. Whether it was using progressive preservation or new recycling treatments to manage your roads, it’s important to take note of your success – that knowledge will help you repeat that success moving forward.
Although you might want to stay humble, don’t keep your victories to yourself. When you celebrate and promote doing something right, it can rally support for future initiatives, elevate public perception of your local government and demonstrate how smart use of tax dollars can go a long way. Keeping the public aware can be easier than you think:
Share on Social Media
Use city social media accounts to engage in conversation and promote the work you’re doing. You could also start an account to specifically track road maintenance. Tag citizens, have fun and celebrate the positive effects of your work: environmental savings, cost savings and reduced lane closures to name a few.
Create a Landing Page
Having a dedicated space for information about your road network management plan can be a helpful resource for taxpayers. The city of Lancaster recently promoted their plan to treat all 1,700 lane miles by 2025 on their Revive 25 website. No matter what you’re trying to share, consider communicating which roads will be closed, when construction will be complete and the savings your plan provides as a start.
Managing a road network has its ups and downs. But when you’re in the business of keeping everyone moving, it’s important to handle whatever comes your way in the most effective manner possible. By listening to what’s been done wrong, being honest about where you’re going and promoting the good work you’ve done, you’ll keep taxpayers happy, safe and proud to live in a community with excellent roads.