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The changes Cavinee made to department practices and procedures in the last two years did not take hold without questions from the staff.
“I was coming into a department where the majority of the staff have been here for more than 10 years,” says Cavinee. “They’re a seasoned staff, and they’ve been here a long time. They’re used to doing things a certain way.”
Cavinee started his career in the district’s maintenance department 29 years ago, but he also has worked in other capacities for the district, and those experiences influenced the changes he made.
“Being exposed to the maintenance department from outside helped me see where some of the perceived shortfalls were in the department,” he says. “Using that perspective, I had to figure out how to take away the perception that guys are driving around all day. When I found out they had a GPS, I knew I had the tool I needed. It just had to be applied. In doing so, I had to get the foremen and the leads to buy into the concept that they are going to have a little more oversight of staff.
“Eventually, I had a meeting with everybody to say, ‘Let me show you what we’ve done.’ By showing how much we’ve saved and having the district also support us because we’ve saved enough and now can add a couple of vehicles — that was a big boost for our guys to be able to see that. But to convince them up front was not easy.”
Cavinee also had to demonstrate that the changes he was planning were not intended as punishment but instead were intended to support staff in their daily activities.
“Everybody is a little resistant to that kind of change, especially once they know you have a GPS system and they know you’re watching what they’re doing,” he says. “Once they say that it wasn’t going to be used to bring in somebody and write them up, they could see that it was going to help us streamline our operations.”
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