I don’t know what is happening or what will happen to Indian Trail Town Manager Patrick Sadek.
Since we learned the town council voted to place him on administrative leave as a third-party investigator snoops around, we’ve reached out to people for information and requested some records. So far, nothing.
Regardless of the outcome of this investigation, I don’t think Indian Trail can go back to business as usual.
In other words, regardless of whether Sadek is retained, fired or resigns as town manager, Indian Trail government needs to regain the trust of its citizens.
I’m not jumping to conclusions here. I’m not accusing Sadek or the current town council of making any mistakes, but the town doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to the relationship between manager and council.
The council hired Ed Humphries as the first full-time manager in town history in 2006 only to fire him three years later.
Joe Fivas took over in 2010 and left on his own accord in 2015 right after the town election. Mayor Pro Tem David Cohn told me at the time that Fivas left because he “saw the handwriting on the wall.”
Scott Kaufhold was promoted in 2016 and fired the next year.
Based on this knowledge, it seems to me like the town manager should elevate consensus-building as the top priority. It should start with the town council, continue with the town staff and spread throughout the community.
The manager needs clear objectives and expectations from the board. From there, the manager needs to have clear objectives and expectations for his staff. Since employee morale was a hot topic during the Fivas administration, I would pay special attention to workload and whether staff leaves work feeling fulfilled.
Transparency is paramount. In fact, Indian Trail should go above and beyond when it comes to interacting and sharing information with the public (as long as it’s within the law).
Indian Trail needs to communicate its long-term vision more often and refer back to it on a regular basis. Elected leaders need to continuously check the community’s pulse through outreach to determine if and when the vision and guiding principles need to be revised.
Last week, our sister newspaper, The Weekly Waxhaw, published a story about Waxhaw’s latest town manager search.
Like Indian Trail, Waxhaw hired its first town manager in 2006. Michael McLaurin stayed on until 2014. Since then, the town has hired quality replacements in Warren Wood and Greg Ferguson, who both left after a couple of years for bigger gigs. I get the sense from the community that a transformational leader is necessary. Keeping one long enough is tough.
I’m sure part of the pressure that Indian Trail and Waxhaw leaders face is the result of trying to manage a limited amount of resources for towns that are growing faster than everyone else. That’s where company culture can really help these towns.