COLUMBIA — Columbia is adopting an internal policy to improve city employees' performance and to help in the pursuit of two performance awards — one statewide and one national.
On Monday night the City Council approved a $6,500 self-assessment to evaluate the city's progress toward efforts to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the Missouri Quality Award.
This “Journey to Excellence” will take Columbia on a voyage spanning several years, with the goal of improving city service and making it a viable contender for the honors. Both awards recognize excellence in community leadership and business efficiency.
The city’s pursuit of these awards will focus on customer service. Assistant City Manager Paula Hertwig Hopkins said it will take two to three years, but all city employees eventually will be trained to make customer service a priority.
“It’s not about getting the awards, it’s about the process,” Hertwig Hopkins said.
Raina Knox, president of the Excellence in Missouri Foundation, talked with council members Monday night about the process. Knox answered questions and addressed concerns about the applicability of this award to Columbia as opposed to a private business.
“The model works everywhere,” said Knox, reassuring the council.
Knox later echoed Hertwig Hopkins, noting that it would take several years to adopt a new model of business and service by the city and that it's more about real improvement than recognition.
Columbia already has examiners serving on the selection committee for the Missouri Quality Award. Knox told the council that's a good way for the city to get a jump-start on that prize.
“If there was a textbook way of doing it, Columbia is doing it."