In 2019, I had a chance to adjust my department’s vision and structure to address Louisville Metro Government’s needs when I became Chief of Performance Improvement. The Office of Performance Improvement (OPI) had recently focused on updating departments’ strategic plans. However, I knew we needed to enhance our performance management program and figure out how to support our organization in doing so.
Traditionally, OPI was built as an internal consultant team focusing on department effectiveness and strategy, and assisting with continuous improvement projects. I wanted to take this chance to transform the department to increase our capacity as well as that of the departments we served.
After consulting with our mayor and senior staff, I was able to develop a path forward for my team to help the organization accomplish its goals. I had to start with our team and clearly define our purpose within the organization. That meant resetting everyone’s expectations.
Then, I defined seven core skills all employees had to have to make sure we effectively supported the organization. OPI needed to transform to support a more innovative and data-driven organization. Most importantly, I had to communicate my vision to my team and get their buy-in and support.
Here’s where to focus your energy to adapt to your department’s needs.
Supporting your organization’s needs
To define those seven skills, I conducted an assessment to understand the needs of the departments, their leaders and the organization as a whole. I used this gap assessment to understand the skills required to improve the organization. For example, because we have a robust performance management process, my team needed to be able to strategically plan and have analytical skills to assist departments in their improvement projects. I wanted to make sure my team understood how each skill would help the organization as a whole. I also gave them the opportunity to give input on how we learned those skills together.
Encourage shadowing assignments to increase consistency
I encouraged my employees to team up when working on projects with departments. For larger departments, for example, it was helpful to have two employees team up to do strategic planning sessions. I also had more experienced employees shadow each other to help improve and document our internal training and reference guidance. Ultimately, we saw increased consistency in our service delivery between employees and were able to increase our efficiency in helping departments.
Use employee development plans to make assignments
During my team retreat, I introduced the shared skills I wanted everyone to learn. I also included a timeline for each employee to work with me on creating a professional development plan. This helped us align on employee goals and have further discussions around which skills each employee needed to improve. As we moved throughout the year, I used those notes to match up team members on projects to increase skills and adjust workload. This also gave me the opportunity to increase my employees’ visibility with leadership and exposure to other departments and topics they were interested in.
Overall, building team agility has allowed us to build not only OPI’s capacity but also department members’ skills. We’ve built committees with employees from other departments to help with strategic planning, which has broadened our reach even further.
Keeping the organization’s and employee’s needs at the forefront when training employees helped me focus my department’s path forward. And having an agile team has increased our ability to adapt to our departments’ needs and changing operating conditions.
Carmen Moreno-Rivera is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She brings more than 15 years of engineering, operations and process improvement experience to her role as Chief of Performance Improvement for Louisville Metro Government. She leads the organization’s strategic and resiliency planning efforts, performance management program, system design, and complex projects that focus on community impact and an efficient and effective government.