P.A.V.E. Program paving the way

Tony Ramirez
Customer Service Manager
Public Works Department
City of San Antonio, Texas

The City of San Antonio Department of Public Works is paving the way for "Generation X" and "Baby Boomers" to tighten a huge generational gap. In early December 2003, the Department began the P.A.V.E. (Promoting and Advancing Valuable Employees) Program. The program was developed to educate employees on the various businesses within the Department through interactive weekly sessions. P.A.V.E. participants receive the knowledge and training necessary to develop a personal understanding of the purpose and mission of the Department. This empowerment will enable P.A.V.E. participants to make educated decisions and serve as a resource for fellow coworkers in providing information on the following:

  • Budget
  • Human Resources/Training/Benefits
  • Street Maintenance
  • Capital Programs and Engineering
  • Stormwater Utility - Operations and Engineering
  • City Architect's Office/Projects
  • Transportation Group
  • Customer Service

The Department hopes that upon completion of the course, participants will have an in-depth knowledge of the Public Works Department and numerous contacts to utilize in the future. On the final day of the program, each participant spends the morning "Job Shadowing" other members of the Public Works team. This final component is designed to offer employees the opportunity to learn about a position they may be interested in pursuing in the future.

While this pilot program was a huge success and Track I is near the end, an unexpected positive side effect of the program has been that a forum for older and younger employees has been created. The P.A.V.E. Program has not only encouraged dialogue between these generations, but has brought it to the forefront. These P.A.V.E. sessions have allowed each side to share their philosophies about both the work they do and their roles in the organization.

P.A.V.E. affords both generations the opportunity to address what many see as recurrent differences between these two groups, but more importantly to dispel a few areas of concern that many "Baby Boomers" and "Generation X-ers" have. Perceptions from "Baby Boomers" include:

  • Younger employees are lazy and avoid hard work.
  • Younger employees do not have the commitment to an organization their fathers had.

From "Generation X-ers" perspective:

  • Older employees are old fashioned and behind the times.
  • Older employees are afraid of change and entrenched in their philosophies.

While lots of work remains to be done on both sides, P.A.V.E. has laid the foundation for both the "Baby Boomers" and "Generation X-ers" to work towards the "passing of the baton." As "Baby Boomers" retire, and both professional and para-professional positions become vacant, "Generation X-ers" are poised to fill them—with a clearer vision of what their role and responsibilities will be, thanks to programs such as P.A.V.E.

P.A.V.E. was created as a communication and education tool, to facilitate communication from "Top to Bottom and Bottom to Top." A unique component of the program is the first 15-20 minutes of each session, when the Director of Public Works, Thomas G. Wendorf, P.E., fields questions and takes input. If a question arises that he does not have an immediate answer for, the question is noted and responded to by Wendorf at the following session. At the end of each session, participants are again afforded the opportunity to provide input or ask questions. This is done to encourage participation from those employees who may be a bit shy to ask a question or provide input. Participants' questions are then forwarded to the appropriate party for a response by the following session.

The program has far exceeded Wendorf's expectations. "It is our hope, that as we present the mission of the Department in a holistic manner, our employees will be better prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities that will be presented in the future," he said.

Tony Ramirez can be reached at (210) 207-8020 or at anramirez@sanantonio.gov.