Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014 - (Page 10)
Recruiting and retaining high-quality employees at public ports
requires addressing unique challenges.
By Meredith Martino
ost project managers
acknowledge the triple
constraints of their work,
sometimes called the Iron
Triangle: quality, time and cost. If a project
is of high quality and completed quickly,
it's going to cost a lot. If it's completed
quickly and at low cost, the quality is going
to suffer. And if the project must be of high
quality and low cost, it will take a long time
Human resource managers face constraints of their own in finding and retaining high-quality employees while balancing
the cost to the organization with the ability
to retain those employees for as long as
possible. And within public ports, there are
often unique challenges that can impact the
staff makeup of the agency.
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Public Port Challenges
"We really act like a business," said Nancy
Lawlor, manager of human resources at
the Maryland Port Administration. "Other
state agencies focus on providing services
to citizens, but we generate revenue."
This duality is common among public
ports. Functioning as arms of municipal,
regional or state governments, ports are
nonetheless expected to be sources of revenue - either keeping their financial ledger
in the black on their own or generating
funds for their larger government bodies.
This tension creates challenges in recruiting
and retaining port staff at all levels.
Where private companies can determine their own hiring processes within the
bounds of employment law, public agencies
have to be accountable to taxpayers, with a
high level of transparency and often limited
budgets compared to their private sector
counterparts. "We are accountable to the
citizens," said Lawlor. "We have to be careful in how we reward and motivate."
Public ports also must deal with
boards or commissions that change frequently, often the result of an election
outcome - either directly or indirectly.
Ken O'Hollaren, interim executive director at the Port of Port Angeles and former
executive director at the Port of Longview,
is familiar with the challenges of this aspect
of port employment.
"There is no avoiding political change.
It is part of being a public agency,"
O'Hollaren said. "The key role of the executive is to be a conduit between the board
and the staff, to let management focus on
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014
From the President’s Desk
Public Sector Agencies with Private Sector Expectations
Welcoming Veterans to Port Ranks
Working with Stakeholders: The Buck Stops at the CEO’s Office
Words of Wisdom from Long-Standing Port Executives
PPM® Certification Readies Executives for the Top
Facing Challenges Head On
Ports are Critical to U.S. Economy’s Health
The Changing Paradigm of Transportation Executives
Port and Maritime Environmental Compliance Planning Starts at the Top
Comprehensive Records Retention Plan a Must for Ports
Saint John Brings the Port to the Classroom
Barbados on Track for Record Cruise Growth
Santa Marta Focuses on the Environment, Community and Operational Efficiency
Northwest Ports Partner to Further Cut Diesel Emissions
Seaports Magazine - Spring 2014