Clerk Spotlight: North Port, Florida
Deputy Clerk of North Port, Fla.
Previously: Assistant Clerk, City of Venice, Fla.
Also: Veteran, Mother, Dancer
“I like to country line dance. I’m not very good at it, but I’ll do it!”
When Heather Taylor stepped into her new role as deputy clerk of North Port, Florida, she tasked herself with completely overhauling how the city manages the legislative process. The city is, no doubt, in safe hands. Scroll down to learn Heather’s insights on efficiency & teamwork — as well as how she’s cut the time-intensive process of creating meeting minutes down to a mere 45 minutes.
Clerk Smarter, Not Harder: 3 Secrets From North Port, Florida
Know the Flow
According to Heather, one fundamental (and often-overlooked) duty of a clerk is to have a strong, fundamental understanding of how the city works. That means becoming intimately familiar with the city’s inner structure and workings.
“You need to know every code, every statute, and everything that’s going on in the city to do the job properly,” says Heather.
“At the end of the day, we are the keepers of the records. We need to know the processes, or else it comes back to bite us.”
As it relates to processes in North Port, Heather is mainly focused on setting up workflows to improve how the city implements their legislative management software, govMeetings Legistar. It’s one way she’s helping the team become more efficient.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
With increasing service demands placed on the shoulders of, in many cases, decreasing staff, local government leaders like Heather are enlisting their brainpower. They’re working smarter, not harder.
For Heather, that means constantly prioritizing (and re-prioritizing) her workload. It means not waiting until something becomes an issue. (“I don’t like to let things sit,” she says.) It also means revamping the process for generating public meeting agendas — an opportunity that Heather identified early on.
“Now, [the recording secretaries] take notes in Legistar and they say it takes just 45 minutes to get them done.”
“At both municipalities that I have worked, Legistar was not being used to its full potential. I was able to create workflows for all advisory boards to make the agenda process run smoothly,” she says.
Her efforts are paying off.
About half of North Port’s advisory boards are now running on Legistar, and Heather has been teaching the recording secretaries how to use it. Previously, they would take notes during the meeting and, when the meeting was over, relisten to the whole meeting to create minutes. “Before, the process took hours,” says Heather.
Power Teamwork, Empower Staff
According to Heather, the surest path to positive change is through the team. “I define success by the team,” she says.
This collaborative attitude is something she attributes to her time serving in the military. “My experience there taught me a very strong work ethic: the ability to self-teach, to understand and work well with people with different personalities.”
“I can sit at my desk and produce great work, but if we as a city team are not functioning to the best of our ability, then I am not being successful in my job.”
Simple in theory, getting team members to work better together can be difficult in practice. Heather shares her advice:
“Empower and hear your staff. I feel that employees at all levels need to be empowered to do their jobs and to grow. Their input matters when making those procedures work smarter — not harder.”