Keeping city employees motivated in small communities--where the employee base is low and opportunities for advancement scarce--has long been a problem facing municipal governments.
With a city staff of 270 employees serving 35,000 residents in this seaside community, San Clemente has faced this challenge.
But a year-old program called Leadership '90 has gone a long way toward boosting morale and providing employees with strong management skills, city officials say .
Wednesday night 16 employees were honored at an awards ceremony for their participation in a series of intensive daylong workshops and field studies during the past nine months.
The participants, who were nominated for the program by their department heads, were trained for administrative duties that normally are not part of their jobs. For example, they recently were taught emergency management techniques during a recent trip to the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
"The program has been extremely helpful," said Bonnie Martinez, a city recreation supervisor, "not only about learning administrative responsibilities, but in forming relationships with people in other divisions that you don't normally work with."
The leadership program was developed last year by Greg Hulsizer, former assistant city manager.
"Leadership '90 provides an opportunity to grow personally and professionally, and to develop strong leadership skills," Hulsizer wrote in a brochure sent to all city employees. The format offers "an excellent combination of individual and group learning as well as opportunity for hands-on experience."