Everyone knows a Kane County. On the edge of Chicago, Kane marries the rural and city worlds. The county contains the cities of Aurora, Batavia, Elgin, Geneva and surrounding communities.
The health department of Kane has a vast array of responsibilities ranging from the oversight of schools for nutrition implementation, to working for the hospitals for any sort of outbreaks, along with critical nursing.
Needless to say they tend to be spread thin.
Unfortunately, losing details while focusing on the big picture, unsupportive environments and inefficiency tend to be side effects of biting off more than you can chew. Luckily, Work Effects had the cure.
Kane County had gone through three successive years in budget cuts and reductions in force. Shortly after, they were hit with another 25% reduction in revenue form the state, along with almost all grants disappearing.
Historically, like most medical groups, Kane was functionality organized. Nurses did this, these inspectors did that- no crossing boundaries, only working in silos.
They have very good managers, but these managers weren’t very good leaders.
Managing the tasks of the day, creating schedules, making sure certain processes were being followed, were all things these managers excelled at.
However, when it came to coaching people, encouraging independence and innovation, the managers lacked some basic leadership capabilities.
Work Effects Solution
It wasn’t coming from a lack of desire, but rather a lack of practice. Leaders needed to practice being good leaders.
We gave them the resources and courage to be direction setters and then follow through as change agents.
We did the diagnostic and learned about the leadership capabilities and change resistance within the culture. From there, we helped create a new strategic plan that really put forward collaboration, job sharing, and inter-department communication.
Through developing these skills, they were able to successfully get employees enthused and dedicated to the new strategy and new vision.
Next, we worked on the cultural beliefs, and determined that they needed to significantly increase their process variance.
Instead of specialists for each area of responsibility, they moved to a zone approach where a single person would serve in multiple functions. It was essential for Kane to learn how to adapt and serve in multiple functions, due to the decreasing number of employees.
To Increase Adaptability:
Kane found the ways in which they did things could actually vary quite a bit; and they could adapt to different situations, create new processes and make changes.
The key component was moving their cultural belief systems and their operational approach from low process variation significantly toward high process variation.
In doing so, new working relationships were formed and trust was being restored.
The fear started to dissipate, and once it did they got hit with one of the most severe H1N1 outbreaks in the country.
Had we not prepared the foundation of the organization to consist of more adaptable culture and better leaders, they would have had to call in more federal state resources and would’ve been unable to handle it as smoothly as they did.
The adaptability and the processes by which they did things actually allowed the director to become a national speaker on their best practices, sharing them with other cities and governments.
The director of Kane County was even recruited by Robert Wood Johnson based on the work that was done in Kane County.