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Monday, April 21, 2014 | Last updated: 4:08am

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Collaboration between Eller group, Marana officials aims to improve morale, culture of town employees



The Eller College of Management and Town of Marana are collaborating to improve the management of an already “well-run” town.

In an effort to strengthen the morale and culture of employees who work for the town, employees will complete a survey created by Sam Birk, a graduate student in the Eller College.

The survey will ask workers questions regarding their work atmosphere, in terms of what they consider adequate and what could be improved. The survey’s results will then be presented to Paul Melendez, associate dean of executive education, and Stephen Gilliland, department head of Eller College management and organizations. The two will review these findings with 75 Marana town managers.

The opportunity to have access to “some of the best and brightest” minds in the college is exciting, said Gilbert Davidson, a town manager and an alumnus of Eller College.

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By John Routh / Arizona Daily Wildcat
John Routh / Arizona Daily Wildcat Students from Eller College of Management are helping residents of Marana boost their moral by distributing surveys about the town.

“We want to have a great organization to strive to have the best practices in all areas,” Davidson said.

The idea behind holding the survey came from Davidson and Melendez, two friends who had been planning the collaboration since October. The survey was finalized in November and is designed to examine Marana’s culture, as well as assist with the development of new strategies in
local government.

“What most impresses me is Marana’s willingness to take on this very personal inventory of who they are,” Melendez said. “It can be a very difficult dialogue.”

This dialogue will be used to make town culture synonymous with strategy, as neither is fully operational when the other is weak. It’s a business-like approach to government, though the motives are different, Melendez said.

“Businesses are about profit, and when you’re talking about government, it’s about service,” governments concentrate on people.

The five priorities of the partnership with Eller are Congress, community, heritage, progress and innovation and recreation, said Rodney Campbell, a spokesman for the Town of Marana.

“What I want to see is for us to remain a good thriving community,” Campbell said. “A place where people not only want to live, but do business as well.”

Due to tough economic times, maintaining business in Marana has been difficult.

“The biggest challenge we’ve faced, similar to a lot of municipalities around the nation, is a tight budget,” he said. “[We want to] get a better focus on where to spend our dollars so we don’t fall in the red.”

The partnership includes effectively managing Marana’s budget, and Gilliland said participants can’t be held back by mental constraints of tough economic times.

“They’re really a well-run town,” Gilliland said.

“But this current step is to really try to help them reach that next step of excellence.”


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