ICMA Coaching: Workplace Conduct: How to Deal With Water Cooler Talk

Recorded On: 04/30/2020

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Water cooler talk: it’s in every organization. Sometimes they’re productive and help us bounce ideas off each other, sometimes they help us catch-up on colleague’s lives and help build workplace cohesion. But occasionally these conversations can become harmful to the organization, impacting morale and productivity. And in politically-charged seasons like this, sometimes workplace conversations challenge our goals of maintaining of political neutrality.
  1. How can we understand and better diffuse office rumor mills?
  2. What are effective office communication skills around sensitive or political issues?
  3. How can we help casual conversations better benefit the organization?

We'll be using webinar tools (including real-time questions and live polling) to make this a great opportunity for audience interaction.

This webinar meets Practice 1 (Personal and Professional Integrity), and 5 (Personal Resiliency and Development).

Kevin Woodhouse

City Manager, Pacifica, CA

Kevin has worked in local government for more than 29 years. He has served as City Manager for the City of Pacifica, CA, since October 2017.  Pacifica is a coastal community with a population of approximately 40,000 just south of San Francisco.  Prior to Pacifica, Kevin served for four years as Assistant General Manager for the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, CA, a special district that covers 550 square miles and manages more than 62,000 acres of open space lands and services for the thriving area of the San Francisco Peninsula and Silicon Valley.  And prior to Midpen, Kevin worked for the City of Mountain View, CA, for 23 years, most recently as the Deputy City Manager. 

Jessica Cowles

ICMA Ethics Advisor

Jessica Cowles joined the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) in May 2018 and is the organization’s Ethics Advisor.  Her role involves proactively discussing ethics issues with members, managing ICMA’s Code of Ethics enforcement process, and staffing the ICMA Committee on Professional Conduct, a subcommittee of ICMA’s Executive Board.

Prior to ICMA, Jessica was appointed the Town Manager in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, a small full-service community located near Washington, D.C. for four years.  One of her accomplishments in Berwyn Heights was implementing the governing body’s decision to adopt a council-manager form of government.  Her first position in local government was in Maryland’s capital city of Annapolis as a legislative and policy analyst.

Jessica started her career as a staffer on Capitol Hill then worked in government relations and management consulting for nearly 10 years before completing her MPA.  She received a bachelor’s degree in Political Theory.

Kate Fitzpatrick

Town Manager, Needham, MA

Kate Fitzpatrick was appointed as the first Town Manager in Needham, Massachusetts in 2005.  She has served the community since 1990 as Town Administrator, Assistant Town Administrator, and Personnel Director.  Prior to serving in Needham, Ms. Fitzpatrick worked in a variety of human resource roles for Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  She is currently serving as a Commissioner on the Massachusetts Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission, and has served as president of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (the State’s non-partisan league of cities and towns), president of the Massachusetts Municipal Managers Association, chair of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s Labor and Personnel Policy Committee, and chair of the Massachusetts Municipal Personnel Association.   She is currently a member of the national League of Women in Government, past chair of the ICMA Leadership Advisory Board, and is a founding member of Women Leading Government in Massachusetts.  Ms. Fitzpatrick received a Bachelor’s Degree in History from the College of Holy Cross in 1984, and an MBA, with a concentration in Public Management, from Boston University in 1993.  She is an ICMA Credentialed Manager.  


04/30/2020 at 1:30 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
04/30/2020 at 1:30 PM (EDT)   |  90 minutes
Evaluation Survey
6 Questions
1.50 ICMA CE credits  |  Certificate available
1.50 ICMA CE credits  |  Certificate available