|Vol. 6, No. 6 April 2002|
Can Encouraging Employee Commitment and Buy-In Change an Organization’s Culture
Change is in the air. In the next year, there will be at least 20 new
state governors. The President has proposed several major changes to TANF. The
changes in the last five years to welfare and workforce programs can provide a
road map to organizations in successfully managing change. Successful change
implementation begins with acquiring employees’ buy-in and commitment to the
change process. Setting up new procedures, and informing employees that the
way they work has now changed, is relatively easy. The most formidable barrier
to change is adjusting the organizational culture so that employees truly
adapt to a changing work environment.
and Electronic Resources
Buck, Maria. Charting New Territory: Early
Implementation of the Workforce Investment Act. Public/Private Ventures,
January 2002. Available at http://www.ppv.org/pdffiles/charting.pdf.
Gabris, Gerald and Douglas Ihrke. How Well
Intentioned Reforms Can Lead to Unanticipated Failures: Some Lessons from
Local and Federal Government. American Society for Public Administrators,
2001 National Conference, March 2001. Conference papers are available for
$6.00. To order, contact Deloris Toye at 202/585-4319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Houston, David J. Public Service Motivation: A
Multivariate Test. University of Tennessee, at Knoxville, 1999.
Available at http://web.utk.edu/~dhouston/articles/motivate.pdf.
Jerri. Comparing Non-Profit and Local Government Organizational Climates:
Implications to Employee Commitment. American Society for Public
Administrators, 2001 National Conference, March 2001.
Contact Dr. Jerri Killian, Wright State University, Department of Urban
Affairs, 937/775-3867 or email@example.com.
Conference papers are available for $6.00. To order, contact Deloris Toye at
202/585-4319 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
KPMG Consulting. Organizational Survival Series.
Four part series (including overview) about organizational development. Link
will take you to the main page where the parts are housed as separate PDF
files, April 2001. Available at
Kramer, Fredrica. Seeing TANF from the Inside
Out—Reconsidering the Program’s Role in the Wake of Welfare Reform.
Research Forum on Children, Families and the New Federalism, The Forum, Vol.
3, No. 2, July 2000. Available at http://www.
Lurie, Irene. Changing Welfare Offices.
Brookings Institution, WR & B Brief #9, October 2001.
Available at http://www.brookings.edu/wrb/publications/pb/pb09.htm.
One-Stop Competencies Workgroup. Recommended
Front-Line Staff Competencies for One-Stop Centers in California. Report
to the State Job Training Coordinating Council, 1996. Available at
Plein, L. Christopher. Welfare Reform in a Hard
Place: The West Virginia Experience. The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute
of Government, Report No. 13, November 2001.
Rangarajan, Anu. Keeping Welfare Recipients
Employed: A Guide for States Designing Job Retention Services. Mathematica
Policy Research, Inc., June 1998. Available
or contact: 609/275-2350 or 609/275-2334.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A
Guide to Developing Public-Private Partnerships In Child Support Enforcement.
Administration of Children and Families, 1996.
Available at http://www.acf.dhhs.gov/programs/cse/rpt/pvt/ch5.htm.
U.S. Department of Labor. Recruitment Through
Interagency Collaboration. Employment and Training Administration, Ideas
That Work Newsletter, Issue 3, December 1998.
Winn, Ellen. Understanding How Change Occurs:
Implementation Research in the TANF Era. Research Forum on Children,
Families and the New Federalism, The Forum, Vol. 2, No. 3,
November 1999. Available
American Public Human Services Association, contact
Susan Christie, 202/682-0100, or visit
Caliber Associates, contact Jeanette M. Hercik,
703/385-3200, or visit
Center for the Study of Social Policy, contact Cheryl
Rogers, 202/371-1565, or visit
Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation,
212/532-3200, or visit http://www.mdrc.org.
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., contact Anu
Rangarajan, 609/799-3535, or visit
National Governors Association, Center for Best
Practices, 202/624-7857, or visit
Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government,
Federalism Research Group, 518/443-5844, or visit
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Administration for Children and Families, Office of State Systems Policy,
contact Mark Graboyes, 202/401-7237, or visit
Urban Institute, 202/833-7200, or visit http://www.urban.org.
What States and Localities Are Doing
Five years ago the director of Colorado’s
El Paso County Department of Human Services changed the fundamental
orientation of the agency to be family centered. Through a process of
developing tasks forces staffed by key community stakeholders and conducting
focus groups with clients, the agency was able to get the community rallying
around a unifying vision for the community and for the agency. This unifying
vision resulted in the “Twelve Guiding Principles” around which agency
staff centers their work. Agency staff developed a workbook that guides staff
in translating these principles into work processes and operations, such as
income disregards and relaxed pay penalties. The director was able to support
staff as architects of change through cheerleading, encouragement and
reminding staff that their primary focus is being strong, innovative and in
control for people who are vulnerable. Although staff’s salaries are not
based on performance, the board of commissioners openly appreciates their
efforts and allows the department to reinvest the savings from initiatives
back into programs. As a result of this change process, the agency has
experienced a decline in the staff turnover rate. For more information,
contact David Berns, Director of El Paso County Department of Human Services,
Colorado Springs, CO, at 719/444-5532 or
on a long-standing team-based structure and a climate of innovation, Hampton, Virginia's
Department of Social Services is implementing major new initiatives designed
to create better outcomes for Hampton's VIEW families. The Agency has rebuilt its internal structure around five
strategic outcome areas: Family Independence, Performance & Learning,
Positive Work Environment, Quality Service & Compliance, and Work Systems
Reengineering. Each strategic outcome area is advanced by a group of agency
workers led by a member of a new leadership group, the Performance Support
Team. Hampton's workers have long worked in self-directed teams, promoting a
self-sufficiency agenda for families. The
current initiative builds on the self-sufficiency agenda toward a whole range
of new opportunities for family independence, including dramatically improved
employment and education services, parenting and child literacy programs, life
management skill-building, home and car ownership. The agency is currently
designing and preparing to open the Hampton Opportunity Center, a new space
where customers will be connected with the new services and resources.
Simultaneous work systems reengineering and new staffing strategies have
already improved customer service, accuracy and timeliness; these systems
changes and the emphasis on positive work environment have decreased staff
turnover significantly. Hampton's workers also helped overhaul and redesign
their team-based compensation system in which workers are paid through
negotiated performance contracts and are rewarded for collective
accomplishment of agency goals. For more information, contact Walter Credle,
Director of Hampton City Department of Social Services, 757/727-6188 or wcredle@city.Hampton.va.us,
or Tharon Greene, Performance Consultant, Hampton City Department of Social
Services, 804/694-5211 or .
The Prince William County Department of Social
Services in Virginia shifted from a hierarchical structure to a
self-directed team environment in response to TANF. Agency officials believed
that the systems needed to be realigned with the changing outcomes.
Cross-functional teams were established in order to reset processes. Frontline
workers were given the freedom to make decisions in order to respond quickly
to clients’ needs. There was some staff resistance to this major system
overhaul. The agency overcame this resistance by including staff in the design
and implementation of the work restructuring initiative. Initially, agency
officials identified champion employees who were willing to take the leap and
lead others through this change initiative. From there, a guiding coalition
surfaced. Staff were trained on how a self-directed team structure would
change the way they do work. Employees were also reoriented to focus on the
big picture—serving clients as quickly and effectively as possible.
Ultimately, employees were given the option to choose alternative employment
if they were not willing to be change agents. Since restructuring, the agency
usually ranks second or third in the statewide annual benchmarking exercise.
For more information, contact Ricardo Perez, Director of Prince William County
Department of Social Services, 703/792-7521 or email@example.com.
WIN Staff Contact:
Tasha Harris, 202/587-1016, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welfare Information Network is supported by grants from the Annie E. Casey
Foundation the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard
Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and
the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and
for information on innovative practices in welfare reform?
See WIN’s revised Best Practice Page http://www.welfareinfo.org/bestprac_matrix.asp for links to promising program examples collected by WIN and other organizations. Have links or programs you’d like to add? E-mail information to email@example.com.