“Working with McGhee Productivity Solutions had a profound impact on our team. We are now experiencing cohesion as a unit, while individually sharing ideas and input that moves the entire group forward. The limitations of the “traditional” workplace tend to leave people disempowered, but our team has abandoned that. The shift out of that mindset has been amazing.” – County Clerk and Recorder
Located in the United States in a central location serving nearly 300,000 people, the mission of the County Clerk and Recorders Office is to provide the best in public service.
As the County Clerk and Recorder, she was elected to her position in 2006 and took office in 2007. Upon assuming her post, she quickly recognized that the volume and variety of the work her team was responsible for challenged them to stay focused and aligned with the big picture. She believed it was important to help employees manage the pressures and demands of their jobs in a way that would leave them feeling empowered and creative to bring their years of experience to the organization for continuous improvement. She knew this would invite a wealth of contribution that would not only support greater efficiencies but increase the level of service as well.
When the County Clerk and Recorder began to work with her new leadership team, she became quickly aware of a culture that operated without clear objectives. She saw some complacency in the environment and knew she needed to find a way to inspire her team. She knew that performance excels when there is a connection to the team and organizational objectives. She set out to create a five-year plan to inspire her team towards a vision for the organization. She was most intrigued by the idea that having a system for driving results would create more empowerment and greater alignment.
The County Clerk and Recorder retained an MPS Senior Consultant to support her in implementing a system to drive improved results. They began by taking key members of the team through MPS’s renowned Take Back Your Life!® (TBYL) Program. This program opened participant’s eyes to new ways of working that increased productivity and focus at the individual level. She then worked with the consultant to implement MPS’s Objective Accountability Program (OAP) to create an environment of alignment, focus, integrity, and accountability.
The TBYL 1:1 individual coaching and group training helped the team simplify their workflow, reduce distractions, get email under control, and map their time to important priorities. This program is taught in a practical way that utilizes the leading productivity software tool already being used by most organizations —Microsoft Outlook. The methodology creates significant behavior change and results in increased productivity and work/life balance.
MPS then worked with the team to implement the OAP, creating and aligning on a Strategic Team Plan (STP) and an Accountability Program (AP) to stay focused on the plan and measure progress throughout the year. Through MPS guidance, the group learned how to gain valuable information from their results in the prior year to generate greater success in the New Year.
Once the team was aligned on key objectives for the coming year, they could drive accountability through a proven structure. Each member of the team was empowered to stay focused and share best practices along the way to achieve higher-levels goals.
In Phase I of the OAP, Preparing the Leadership Team for Change, MPS and the Clerk and Recorder worked to identify obstacles in creating and reaching their overall goals as an organization. Culture change is no easy task, so a series of preliminary meetings were created to set the tone for the change that they could see happening over the next few years. The Clerk and Recorder wanted to see an organization that collaborated, where each employee’s ideas would be heard. She wanted to instill strong values of stewardship, courage, service, integrity, trust, and teaming into the organization. She also wanted to create a vision that was inspiring and aligned her staff to work on what they were building.
In Phase II, The Strategic Team Plan (STP), an off-site session was conducted with the Leadership Team to review the prior year, celebrate successes and recognize disappointment in order to create new guidelines that would support their future success. These guidelines are designed to ensure that their disappointments from last year would not be recreated in the New Year; a key component of the STP. The team also identified some powerful limiting beliefs that were impacting their ability to work as high-performing team in some areas. From awareness of these limitations, came a new set of beliefs to drive different results. The team also worked to identify the key areas that were causing overwhelm. Soon they discovered what most ambitious people do, they were trying to get everything done, essentially overcommitting and causing stress. MPS coached the Leadership Team, supporting them to define their priorities and stay committed to them without becoming sidetracked. Finally, the process produced a clear set of objectives that build toward their long-term plan with each objective having a set of projects that can then be cascaded throughout the team.
Finally, in Phases III and IV, Preparing and Implementing an Accountability Program (AP), the Strategic Team Plan was brought to life. By establishing clear metrics for each objective in the plan, tracking and accountability became possible. Without a measure for success, it is very easy to get off track. An Accountability Calendar was created to ensure that monthly and quarterly Accountability Review meetings occur throughout the year to measure progress. These meetings helped the team stay focused on each project by setting monthly and quarterly goals. The review meetings also provide a forum for sharing successes with the team, as well as best practices. In addition, this process created awareness around those projects that were off-track and in danger of not being completed. Through this awareness course corrections can be identified early on to improve performance along the way.
According to the Clerk and Recorder, her team has a newfound perspective on the work they do, particularly related to teamwork and cooperation. “People understand what the rest of the team is doing,” she says. “There is a level of focus that is more long-term, versus being in the moment and stuck in the to-do list. Now people are being strategic; they are starting to say ‘no’ to tasks that are not aligned with their goals or the organizational objectives, and that is a very good thing.” She feels that the OAP has allowed the team to be open and authentic in conversations focused on what is important: customer service versus public service. Team members have a new commitment to actually serving the customers. “Customer service is extremely important. The public has no choice but to interact with our department. We are a key component in their citizenship in the County. But we don’t want to be the stereotypical Department of Motor Vehicle experience for our customers. We want to serve them with integrity and respect, and we are now all aligned on what it looks like to do that,” said the Clerk and Recorder.
MPS worked in unison with the County to create an environment where employees are truly operating at a higher level, being authentic and expressing their input and ideas, versus separating who they are at work and who they are at home. They are encouraged to bring their true selves to the work they do, which has been a tremendous cultural shift. Their work with MPS has empowered both trust and permission throughout the team, allowing them to speak freely, acknowledge each other and bring up issues. The County now has a culture that encourages fearless communication and honesty.
• Employees developed a true understanding of the benefit of being in alignment. People now get how important their “being” or mind-set is and how it impacts their actions.
• The conversations in the OAP off-site sessions — the discussions related to alignment, guidelines for success and operating paradigms, and the guidelines for participation — were essential and created a new level of cohesion.
• People feel empowered to have courageous conversations and take the time to talk and speak up when things aren’t working. There is better dialogue and cross-functional communication.
• The team is experiencing less stress and things are moving more smoothly. When you take time to get into alignment, you save time because you don’t have to go back and have conversations over and over. People are on the same page.
• The office has better working relationships with state partners; increased partnership and collaboration overall.
“Collectively and consciously setting goals as an organization was tremendously powerful. Before that, we were always in reactive mode. Now we’re in the driver’s seat with a clear map of where we’re going and how to get there.”
– Boulder County Clerk and Recorder