De X-factor

Eerder deze week was ik als inwoner van Heemstede te gast bij een bijzondere bijeenkomst. Onder de titel “scoutingsessie overheidsparticipatie” had de gemeente een workshop voorbereid die als input moest dienen voor een leergang participatie voor de eigen ambtenaren.

Bijzonder én leuk om daar als burger bij te worden betrokken en in alle openheid met Heemsteedse ambtenaren te spreken over wat er goed gaat en wat er, soms vreselijk, fout gaat op participatie gebied in Heemstede. Neemt u van mij aan: de ambtenaren waren nog strenger voor zichzelf dan de aanwezige burgers. Ze leggen de lat hoog.

Welke pet heb jij op?

De toon werd gelijk goed gezet: openheid voorop. Oftewel in duo’s mochten we elkaar beplakken met de verschillende petten die we op hebben. Dat leverde soms verrassende kennis op. Mijn petten? Burger, ZZP-er, ex-ambtenaar (andere gemeente), voorzitter scouting vereniging, gitarist.

Gelukkig ging het in de X-factor groep waaraan ik deelnam niet over onze outfit want al die felgele stickers met ‘petten’ vloekten behoorlijk met mijn overhemd. Het ging wel over de (gewenste) kwaliteiten en de leerbehoeften van de medewerkers van de gemeente Heemstede. Voor mij dus vooral de vraag: hoe wil ik als burger tegemoet getreden worden, wat verlang ik als burger van de gemeente als het gaat om participatie en het omgaan met (burger)initiatieven. Kortom, welke X-factor moet de Heemsteedse ambtenaar hebben.

In andere groepen ging het onder andere over de kracht van onze samenleving, over wat voor organisatie de gemeente Heemstede wil zijn en waar de bestaande kracht en blinde vlekken van die organisatie zitten.

Een ambtenaar kan het niet alleen

Dat alles leverde veel input op voor de leergang, dat bleek wel uit het afsluitende gesprek. Een gesprek dat duidelijk maakte dat niet alleen de ambtelijke organisatie aan de slag moet met participatie maar dat ook de raad en het college daarin stappen moeten zetten. Zij bepalen tenslotte de bewegingsruimte die ambtenaren hebben. Goede participatie vereist betrokkenheid en flexibiliteit van alle partijen: burgers, ambtenaren, college en raad. Als burgers moeten we ons op onze beurt realiseren dat niet altijd alles kan. En dat we sommige dingen toch echt zelf moeten doen als we niet meer OZB willen betalen….

Maar goed, even terug naar het doel van de avond, de leergang en meer specifiek voor mijn groepje: de vereiste X-factor van de Heemsteedse ambtenaar. Ik realiseer me een dag later dat er tijdens die avond meerdere zijn genoemd maar dat uiteindelijk een heel belangrijke factor niet expliciet is benoemd. En dat terwijl ik hem meerdere malen heb gezien. Bij ambtenaren, raadsleden en bij de aanwezige burgers: passie. Passie voor onze mooie gemeente, passie om die samen mooi te houden en nog mooier te maken.

Met passie alleen ben je er natuurlijk nog niet, een ambtenaar moet de ruimte krijgen en in staat zijn om initiatieven op waarde te kunnen schatten. Om mensen en initiatieven met elkaar te verbinden. Dat vereist openheid, oprechte interesse, benaderbaarheid, helder communiceren en nog een hele rij andere eigenschappen en vaardigheden die gisteren wel zijn genoemd. Eigenschappen en vaardigheden waarvan je het liefste zou zien dat alle ambtenaren die hebben of tot in de puntjes beheersen. Het is goed dat de gemeente daarmee aan de slag gaat en een leergang laat ontwikkelen. Het is nog beter en toont lef om bij het maken van die leergang ook burgers te betrekken en openlijk met de billen bloot te gaan en te praten over de dingen die niet zo goed zijn gegaan.

Lef, passie en openheid, werk willen maken van participatie. Mooi vertrekpunt.






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