Texas Border Business
Pharr, TX – At its regular meeting of the held on Monday, March 6, 2016, the Pharr City Commission voted to approve a resolution authorizing the nomination of Pharr City Manager Juan G. Guerra for a Strategic Leadership and Governance Award from the prestigious International City Managers Association (ICMA). Mayor Ambrosio Hernandez nominated Guerra for the award after nearly two years of effective governance and implementation of specific programs aimed at increasing efficiency and productivity, improving employee morale, and elevating the ethical expectations of City staff, comprehensively described as the Pharr PRIDE program.
Prior to his tenure, the workplace culture that existed in Pharr included undisciplined spending, unprofessional ethics, distrust between staff and management, silos created at every department, questionable integrity when communicating with residents, and a failure to adhere to sound management principles expected by those in leadership positions. In May 2015, the residents demanded change and elected a new Mayor and Commissioners. To quickly implement change, the Mayor and City Commission unanimously chose Juan to lead the effort and appointed him as City Manager.
“During a time of needed change, Juan stepped up and delivered in many facets, the most notable one was the change in Pharr’s culture through progressive leadership steps summarized as the Pharr PRIDE Program,” said Hernandez in the nomination.
Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Guerra’s family moved to the Rio Grande Valley in his childhood. After graduating from high school, Guerra joined the U.S. Marine Corps. After being honorably discharged, Guerra’s focus and discipline transitioned to the classroom where he earned a Bachelor and Master degree in Business Administration and a Certified Public Accountant license, among others. Guerra began his tenure in Pharr as Finance Director, and after leading Pharr away from major fiscal problems, was promoted to Chief Financial Officer. All of this prepared Guerra for the major challenge of stepping up and leading the charge under the new administration’s directive to change the culture in Pharr. Having been in Pharr since 2007, he was aware of the improvements needed, and through his military training, he had gained the leadership abilities to get the job done. By developing and implementing the following three major tasks, the culture in Pharr would be positively affected and changed.
The Pharr P.R.I.D.E. program, developed by Guerra, consists of the adoption of leadership traits expected of all employees. The P.R.I.D.E. Leadership Traits are: Professionalism in work productivity and appearance; Respect for self, co-workers, employees and citizens; Integrity in work and in life; Discipline in what you do; and Ethical adherence to moral, professional, and legal standards. The Pharr P.R.I.D.E. program is supported in every activity, signifying the importance placed on the leadership traits that are constantly being developed and augmented.
As City Manager, Guerra has also taken the initiative to raise the standard expected from employees regarding workplace productivity, and implemented programs focused on professional growth, leadership training, teambuilding, diversity, and employee recognition. Through monthly teambuilding activities hosted by peers for all departments, leadership training programs, and fun activities for employees and families, Guerra has focused on improving the quality of the workplace environment and elevated the level of expectation so that employees are delivering city services in a productive and efficient manner.
Lastly, Guerra wanted to improve and streamline the communications between city staff and city leadership, so that employees felt their needs were heard and addressed. Guerra implemented suggestion boxes throughout the city, conducted employee evaluations on the Mayor, City Commission and City Manager, and created the Pharr Fraud Reporting Program to identify wrong, unethical, and/or criminal operations taking place within Pharr. These measures aim to promote employee buy-in on the new programs in place and encourage employee participation and commitment to the programs.
“The role of the City Manager is to develop a team to implement the policies of the elected officials, and having a great team is key to getting things done,” said Guerra. “I thank the City leaders for this nomination, and I am proud of how Pharr’s culture has dramatically changed and is continually developing into the professional and efficient workforce that the residents of Pharr expect and deserve,” Guerra continued.