Life coach for Oak Creek employees under budget

Meetings to help town employees work more efficiently

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— Members of the Oak Creek government said the consultant the town hired helped town employees “get on the same page” and “work toward the same goals.” And, after meeting with two department leaders and the mayor, the project is likely to come in well less than the $5,000 budget.

The Oak Creek Town Board voted in late October to set aside the money for the project. The discussions were held in an executive session with the town lawyer, but after the vote, Mayor Nikki Knoebel said the coach was to provide counseling and advise town employees about com­­munication strategies.

Since that time, the board has held two major meetings. One meeting included all of the Oak Creek Town Board and all town staff members, who met with Depart­­ment of Local Affairs coordinator Greg Winkler on Nov. 16. Winkler’s services were free, Knoebel said.

The second meeting, also Nov. 16, included only Town Clerk Karen Halterman, Public Works Director Bob Redding and Knoebel, along with life coach Todd Musselman.

Knoebel said she doesn’t expect any town policies to change after the meetings, and “personalities” were the main reason the life coach was hired.

“It was more of getting everybody together and on board, that they’re all a team,” she said.

The cost of the life coach is not known because there is not an invoice for the event, but Knoebel and Halterman said they expect it to be far less than the $5,000 allocated. There are no future meetings with Musselman planned, and the rest of the money will be returned to the general budget. The town will hold more all-employee meetings, but those will not have a cost.

Halterman said it’s not unlike a business where the consultant was used as a training tool to help employees do their jobs better and communicate better.

“And if we can better communicate between the board and other departments and the citizens we serve, basically, it’s like any other training that we are constantly going through to improve the service to the community,” she said.

Halterman and Redding are two of the three department leaders in the town. Oak Creek Police Department Chief Administrative Officer Lance Dunaway is the third, and he participated in the large meeting but not the smaller session, Knoebel said.

Oak Creek Town Board member Bernie Gagne said part of the reason for the consultant was the mix of “strong characters” and varying degrees of experience with the town.

He said the lessons learned hopefully will help the town go into future projects including the construction and installation of a new town water tank.

“In the long run, the town will see a better product for our efforts,” he said.

Halterman and Knoebel said essentially the same thing: There may not be immediately noticeable effects from the training, but the long-term cooperation among town employees will help the town function better.

“It’s going to help the town by everybody working more efficiently,” Knoebel said. “Training for any corporation, any kind of job, is key. This is just more training for them.”

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