CULTURE OF COLLABORATION AT JOBS & FAMILY SERVICES
Staff at Jobs and Family Services in Montgomery County, Ohio led initiatives to increase collaboration between departments and improve customer outcomes. Listen to interviews with staff to hear how the initiative changed the way they worked — and how they saw themselves as leaders.
Montgomery County Jobs and Family Services (JFS) in southwest Ohio reached out to Design Impact in 2015. The local government service agency, which serves residents receiving public benefits, wanted to improve its internal collaboration to better serve people. After a year exploring the problem, JFS acknowledged there were serious barriers preventing its organization from working together. Some of these hurdles were external, but the organization also battled a fragmented infrastructure, siloed communication, high staff turnover, limited transparency, and top-down decision-making.
Over the next three years, Montgomery County JFS invested in their organization's capacity to innovate and improve the way they serve the community.
Hundreds of staff across multiple departments participated in the pilot leadership program, from frontline workers to senior leadership. Together, they created a culture of collaboration.
Staff who were part of the project learned to trust each other. They also found a renewed sense of power and agency as leaders and decision makers at JFS.
These shifts in mindsets also led to more collaborative relationships within and across departments and more meaningful relationships with customers.
Fifty out of seventy-five staff involved in the project received promotions during the process.
Staff also launched prototypes for eight service initiatives, including:
JFS on the Move, a mobile outreach effort that takes services to the community.
Bridging the Gap, an initiative that creates pathways between front-line workers and senior administration to foster relationship building, communication, and transparency.
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THEORY OF CHANGE IN ACTION
Over time, engaged staff gained trust and a renewed sense of power and agency as leaders and decision makers at JFS. These shifts in mindsets have led to an increase in collaborative relationships within and across departments as well as a deeper level of relationship and connection to customers.
“IT'S MADE ME LOOK AT IT DIFFERENTLY."
Kelly Cunningham, a Child Support Enforcement Team Lead at JFS, shared how participating in this project shifted her mindset. She not only saw how empathy and creativity played a significant role in improving service, but she also saw her role differently.
“IT'S A GOOD FORM OF CONTAGIOUS, THAT'S FOR SURE."
Jennifer Brown, a Manager in the Family Assistance Division, observed how staff's behavior changed as a result of participating in this project. As a manager, she saw significant leadership development among her team. Staff was more willing to take risks, try new things, and showed more willingness to grow and change. What was also clear: the changes JFS needed to make to support this kind of growth were implemented, like including frontline staff as co-creators throughout the process.
“IT'S CHANGING THE WAY WE WORK."
JFS invested in the ideas that came out of this process from day one. Corey Marco, a Family Assistance Division Team Lead, immediately saw the results of this deeply creative and inclusive process. Staff are more engaged and customer service has improved. At the end of the day, JFS invested in relationships and it is paying off for staff and customers