Inslee on balancing demands of governing state with run for president
Gov. Jay Inslee channeled his inner policy wonk Wednesday as he met with state employees in Olympia to discuss ways to improve public services.
The event was hosted by Results Washington, a part of the Governor’s Office that Inslee created through an executive order in 2013 to develop and monitor five goals. The topic of Wednesday’s meeting was “effective, efficient and accountable government.”
About 70 state employees stood up from their chairs as Inslee, the second-term governor who is seeking the Democratic nomination for president, entered the meeting room in the Helen Sommers Building. The meeting occurred a day after Inslee endorsed a congressional candidate in Illinois who supports abortion rights and two days before he’s set to return to the presidential campaign trail in California.
Soon, the air was filled with discussions about what is a “human-centered workforce” or a “psychologically safe workplace,” and how to encourage “interpersonal risk-taking.” A slide showed what an “engaged” state worker would look like if he or she were a slice of cake. Answer: It’s a neatly-baked slice with lots of frills.
On the tables in front of the state employees were little red books, written by a University of Southern California professor and titled, “Just Plain Good Management.” The last page of advice begins: “Remember the first lesson of management: listen, listen, listen.”
It’s something Sara McCaslin Stogner already has embraced.
Six months after joining the state Department of Social and Health Services, Stogner and her colleagues are carrying out a directive from Secretary Cheryl Strange to do a staff idea tour. Since January, they have visited about 50 field offices, with plans to go to the other 100 sites. Employees so far have shared over 5,000 ideas in response to the question: “How can DSHS become a better employer of choice?”
At Western State Hospital in Lakewood, employees offered 400 ideas, said Stogner, who is a senior content, research and implementation strategist.
“Safety is a big concern for the staff there. One staff (member) proposed an idea to hire full-time psychology staff to take care of our staff and to provide drop-in counseling after an injury happens on the ward. That gives you a little flavor on the ideas that we’re hearing,” she said.