This month we speak with Clint Watchman, Coordinator of Urban Policy at the City of Salisbury.
Clint talks about his about his new Team Leader role and shares some of his insights into what makes a good team and team member.
Hi Clint, thanks for speaking with us.
What is your current role, and what does it involve?
I am currently the Coordinator of Urban Policy at the City of Salisbury. It’s a team leader role and there are three other staff in the team all with a range of urban planning, policy, project management and development backgrounds. The role sees me working across council collaborating on a variety of Strategic Urban Planning and Design projects while also leading a team of very experienced planners and project managers.
Where were you before? What is your work background/career path so far?
I started my career as a graduate Urban Designer at Delfin Lendlease where I spent 5 years working across multiple projects. Most notably I was involved in the design of the later stages of Mawson Lakes and the master planning and feasibility of large scale residential communities like Blakes Crossing and Springwood.
I then moved to local government as an Urban Designer for the City of Onkaparinga where I worked across council on urban renewal, town centre regeneration and cross organisational promotion of good planning and design.
Looking to move closer to home I started working for City of Salisbury coordinating the design of their residential land developments and delivering a strategic assessment of council land for potential residential development. My most recent position (and fortunately being able to stay with Salisbury) is Coordinator of Urban Policy.
What attracted you to local government, and your role?
Starting my career with Delfin Lendlease was a fantastic training ground and gave me great insight into the private sector, however I always had a keen interest in urban renewal and town centres. I moved to the City of Onkaparinga to diversify and get practical project experience within the field of urban planning and design.
It’s fair to say I underestimated how much of a professional and cultural change it would be and that I had a lot of lessons to learn. As a long term career decision it was the right one and has lead me to the opportunities I have now.
My new role provides the perfect opportunity to blend the practical urban design and planning experience I have with my natural instinct to think analytically, strategically and about the long term impacts council decisions have on the community. Most importantly I was eager to take on a new challenge and a team leader role.
What motivates you? What are you most passionate about in local government?
My primary motivation has always been the same, to create great places for the community. Local government is the primary custodian of public places and they have the means and resources to positively contribute to those environments.
As local governments diversify, they become more attuned to what makes great places and communities. I am most passionate about how governments can organise themselves, be smart, strategic and informed so that they can make the right decision for the health of the community. This means I am interested in all aspects of local government and motivated to continue learning about how to achieve positive outcomes within a local government context.
How would you describe a ‘team’ and how many different teams are you currently a part of?
I would describe a team as a group of people with varying expertise working towards a common goal. In this context a team could last for a long time and be formally established or just be a short term ‘working’ team to achieve a specific purpose.
I’ve lost count of how many teams I have been a part of and have transitioned across different teams within organisations via organisational restructures and for other reasons.
It’s been a great experience being part of so many teams and my key takeaway has always been to understand people’s strengths, work to them and adapt wherever possible.
What qualities as a team member do you feel are common across all of these teams?
For the strategic nature of work we do I think forming good working relationships across an organisation is critical and the concepts of a good working ‘team’ can be stretched outside of the administrative team structure.
At a fundamental level for the type of work we do I think people should feel comfortable to explore ideas and concepts and that the process of discovery is well supported. It’s also important to balance this with achieving results and feeling a sense of achievement.
The team you are currently leading is fairly new. What have been your key priorities and approach in establishing a new team?
Yes, it’s only been four months and we have a very big agenda. To start I have been focused on learning about our portfolio and how this fits within the organisation, what are the priorities and how do we create our own projects to be proud of.
I am discovering more and more about the rest of the team as time goes on and getting to know what individuals abilities and working styles are and how this can contribute to our team agenda. I would like to focus on working with the team on how we best integrate across the organisation to make projects and concepts as successful as possible.
What factors do you feel make a successful team?
While being very new to formal leadership, I have been working as a part of teams throughout my career and I think the reasons for success have typically been the same. In my experience motivation, keeping things moving forward and sharing project experience is fundamental.
I also understand that different staff may have different opinions or expectations on success and understanding what may be important to them is also an important part of the journey.
You are participating in this year’s Emerging Leaders Program. What impact has it had on you so far both as a team member and as a leader of a team?
The timing has been perfect for me. Even though doing the course does take up time it’s been very insightful. The team management profiling was incredibly useful.
It has given me greater awareness into my working styles and preferences and how I can work with this in the context of teams.
The training sessions have also been very timely and pitched at the perfect level for me as I learn more about being a team leader and working across an organisation at a higher and more strategic level.
Finally, how do you spend your leisure time outside of local government?
I have two girls, one 15 months and the other just turned four. This means that most of my leisure time is spent with the family on activities around the house, going to playgrounds and visiting friends.
As the weather improves we spend a lot of our time outside enjoying the garden and each other’s company. When the V8 Supercars are on TV I’ll generally try and watch the race in amongst our other activities.