Jeffery K. Patterson
CEO, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority
Headquarters: Cleveland, Ohio
Education: BA, Mount Union College; MBA, Baldwin Wallace College
First Job: Landscaping/maintenance worker
What I’m Reading: Hardball by Chris Mathews
Best Advice: Always be clear with what you expect from your staff and what you expect from yourself.
Developing leadership talent
The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA) is committed to providing good, safe, and affordable housing to residents and participants in Cuyahoga County, in addition to offering economic business opportunities. Aligning our agency-wide goals with diversity strategies has been key to our success in achieving employee and supplier diversity, as well as our business goals. This alignment has allowed us to improve processes and help employees be more productive. CMHA works to build a culture of diversity that enters every department and function of the Authority. It begins with the support from leaders and needs to be viewed as an integral part of planning and management efforts.
One of the biggest challenges in managing a diverse workforce is the ability to achieve the balance necessary to reach success. For example, a new challenge that we are facing as we manage our organization is the impact generational diversity has on our workforce. We now work in a time where there are as many as four different generations of people in the workforce. Hence, there are increasingly more types of workforce behaviors and varying standards of what motivates employees, as well as new approaches, tools, and skillsets used to get the job done. I believe these changes are having a substantial impact on our organization in a very positive manner. Since there is a wider view of cultural dynamics and work behaviors, we have found that this mixed, multigenerational environment creates better decision making, more creativity, and improved problem solving.
CMHA has developed an informal internal diversity council, which consists of staff from departments such as Human Resources, Purchasing, Real Estate (MBE Program), and Executive Office. Their responsibilities include reviewing the workforce diversity reports, staff development, and curriculum development and facilitation of the Leadership Academy. They are included in CMHA’s purchasing process to ensure that every opportunity to include minority participation is explored, whether by designing opportunities that lend themselves to maximum participation by minority businesses or by promoting the inclusion of the smaller business in large-scale projects. At CMHA, purchasing and diversity go hand-in-hand.
CMHA has utilized the following external and internal programs to help develop leadership talent. Programs such as Leadership Cleveland, Bridge Builders, the Leadership Academy, and the Building Blocks Leadership program are all examples of how CMHA drives talent to reach their best potential. We encourage diversity in the workplace to inspire all employees to perform to their highest ability. With an Authority-wide strategy in place, we have enhanced our responsiveness to the increasingly diverse group of residents and stakeholders we serve, and increase our ability to manage change, as well as expand the creativity and innovation of the organization.