The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) exists to ensure that Colorado has a safe and efficient highway system by building and maintaining interstates, US highways and state highways. Motorists often believe that CDOT maintains local and residential roads, however, cities and counties are responsible for local and residential roads – not CDOT.
I met several CDOT employees at a recent speaking event and when I asked the question, “How’s your culture?” The responses surprised me. I heard words like excellent and phenomenal, and one employee simply smiled. These responses peaked my curiosity, as most government entities are not known for high levels of employee engagement. However, CDOT is bucking the trend, so I set out to determine why.
What I found is that CDOT is working every day to improve its operations, so they can deliver excellent services and products to their customers. Gary Vansuch, Director of Process Improvement, says, “We engage every employee – every day – to make government services more effective, efficient, and elegant.”
Gary shared that one of CDOT’s top six multi-year priorities is to improve business processes for better customer service and efficiency. However, that improvement does not happen magically; it requires focusing on key issues and working systematically to resolve those issues. To do that, CDOT applies continuous improvement tools and techniques, many of which were pioneered in the private sector, including Lean process improvement.
There are several different avenues CDOT employees use to improve processes, products and services, including:
- Cross-functional improvement. Some of their improvement efforts focus on larger, cross-functional processes. By leveraging information technology (IT) to enhance how they work, CDOT has improved its business, enhanced customer service, and reduced the cost of government.
- Everyday Lean Improvement. Everyone at CDOT is encouraged to identify opportunities to make improvements to their workplace and work processes, every day. Employees identify a problem or opportunity, develop an innovative solution, test that innovative way to ensure it works well, and implements it letting others know about it so they can “borrow” and implement the innovation too.
CDOT’s process improvement initiative was selected as a “Bright Idea” by the Innovations in American Government Awards program, which is administered by the Ash Center at Harvard University. And several cross-functional improvement projects have received national and international recognition.
What’s in this for you and CDOT? Employee Engagement. Employees say they are more engaged when they are adding value, doing meaningful work, and making a difference. It causes them to feel emotionally connected to your organization, which is a pillar of engagement.
BE AWESOME. What are you doing to improve operations, so you can deliver excellent services and products to your customers, and increase employee engagement? I’ve long been a fan of employee focus groups. Bring small groups of employees together to identify areas for improvement and then follow CDOT’s system above to drive change. I’d love to hear your successes and feature them in an upcoming blog, so get going leaders!
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She was recently named a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who? Cracking the Code of Employee Disengagement, and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.