Washington State Department of Licensing

Industry

Local Government

Size

6 million residents served

Location

Olympia, WA

It is important to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. While equality is great in theory, it is really about equity and the ability to provide people with the things that will help them meet their specific needs.

Tony Griego

Planning and Performance Manager

The Washington Department of Licensing does much more than just provide driver’s licenses. They impact residents who need ID cards, vehicle titles and tags, and professional licenses as well. All told, six million Washington State residents need WDOL’s services.

On the Planning and Performance Team, Janet Zars and Tony Griego design and manage strategic planning for the executive team. They spend most of their time working on the agency’s performance management systems and coaching employees at all levels to develop their own performance stories all while keeping WDOL’s six million customers in mind.

Out with the old…

Back in 2006, Washington State was looking for more government accountability. As a result, the legislature passed a law requiring every state agency to measure performance and report quarterly on all publicly funded operations. Always aiming to remain ahead of the curve, WDOL used this environment as an opportunity to use the national Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence as a way to challenge and stretch themselves in new ways.

By 2009, WDOL had created their “Results Management System” with executive sponsorship of measures. As the strategy grew, it developed into more ‘process-centric’ performance management and involved more WDOL employees. However, by 2017, the system had grown so much that it now included over 150 measures, and was beginning to be too overwhelming to be effective.

… in with the new!

In 2018, a leadership shift took place, and presented an opportunity to reinvent the agency’s performance management with the organization’s personality and culture. In early 2019, they officially relaunched the strategy, but instead of focusing on process, the team put a special focus on people. The new approach would be ‘person-centered’.

To capture this new mindset, WDOL created a new purpose statement “Helping every Washington resident live, work, drive, and thrive”, which is much more to the point, effective, and aligned with their new culture than the previous mission statement. Additionally, they were able to go through their measures and focus on those that are most critical to their mission and the new ‘person-centered’ theme. Now, they are only tracking the measures that are valuable to them and, more importantly, their customers.

Throughout this process, the concept of person-centered performance management encouraged WDOL to ask themselves a series of important questions:

  • Who is my customer? Whom are we serving?
  • What does our customer need?
  • How do I know if I’m meeting their unique needs?
  • How can we honor their feedback?

For the WDOL Team, it is helpful to have a face to associate with the work they are doing. For example, one team member’s neighbor is a motorcycle rider, their friend works in real estate, and their young son will be a future driver someday. These individuals are all impacted by the work they do, and picturing real customers helps the team frame their work in a way that is more meaningful and ‘person-centric.’

Energized by ‘Person-Centered’ Performance Management

So, why does the person-centered approach really matter? For WDOL, it really came down to who they might have accidentally been excluding in their services, in addition to those who are already being served as customers. They continued to dig deeper, asking themselves ‘Who is underserved?’ and ‘Who is un-served all together?’. The next step in this process is to learn about those people’s unique needs.

As Tony puts it, “It’s time to shift from the Golden Rule (treat others the way you’d like to be treated) to the Platinum Rule (treat others the way they’d like to be treated). In other words, it is important to put yourself in the customers’ shoes. While equality is great in theory, it is really about equity and the ability to provide people with the things that will help them meet their specific needs.”

In ClearPoint, WDOL moved away from using averages for their measures and began incorporating more raw data from customer survey results. For example, if WDOL is tracking ‘average wait time for services’, the average might be positive as most people only have to wait about 10 minutes. But what about those people who did not fall into the average? How does the person who waited two hours feel? Probably not great.

With ‘person-centric’ performance management in mind, WDOL wants to pay attention to the outliers and improve upon all customer experiences. Now, the WDOL measures look at percentages and the raw number of customers that do not receive the results they are looking for, even if that is not the average experience. They are also including qualitative feedback questions in their surveys to truly gain an understanding of the customer experience.

To visualize their information, WDOL organizes the data by groups of people and their experience. They use ClearPoint charts to display who is served and underserved. In terms of performance reporting, they stress focusing on the personal stories and the people themselves instead of the macro-data as much as possible. The WDOL Team will even quote their customers directly in these write-ups for leadership.

Going From Process to People

Moving forward, WDOL continues to charge ahead by putting people ahead of process and pioneering  ‘person-centric’ performance management. When developing measures, they continue to ask ‘Who is my customer and what do they need?’.

Helping every Washington resident live, work, drive, and thrive requires the WDOL Team to picture the people they serve, picture the people they do not, and feel empathy for the customers’ experience. In short, the work they do in the strategy and performance office at WDOL is now people-focused, and the team has ‘made it personal!’

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