Executive hosts first “Listening Session” to hear directly from employees

dow-and-listening-session-group1If you want to know what’s going on in any organization, you ask the people who are doing the work.

That’s why King County Executive Dow Constantine hosted his first Employee Listening Session – to hear from employees about the issues they are facing in their workplaces, and what the County can do to help them thrive and better serve their customers.

“Although I visit many King County work sites each month, I still don’t get as many opportunities as I would like to talk directly with individual employees, so I asked my staff to put together these listening sessions,” Executive Constantine told the small group gathered in his Chinook Building office. “I want to hear from you about what you’re working on, what’s working well, and where we could do better to help you succeed.”

The Executive’s Office worked with union leaders who nominated 11 employees from across the County to attend the first Employee Listening Session on Wednesday, December 7: Hossein Barahimi (Department of Transportation), Jason Canfield (Superior Court), Valerie Dreas (Assessments), Steve Ford (KCIT), Bob Goucher (Department of Natural Resources and Parks), Jennell Hicks (Department of Community and Human Services), Amy Lewis (Department of Public Defense), Lynn Mazer (Department of Judicial Administration), Keith Siebler (Public Health), Lois Watt (Department of Transportation), and Lisa Wray (Sheriff’s Office).

A passion for public service was a consistent theme among the employees at the event who all shared a strong commitment to serving their customers and zeal for their work.

Career advancement was a key topic of discussion, with attendees urging the Executive to look at how the County can ensure maximum transparency and objectivity on hiring panels, and to encourage County recruiters to value training and certifications alongside experience when evaluating job applications.

The attendees also advocated for managers to facilitate greater self-direction for employees wherever appropriate, which can lead to more innovation and problem-solving.

Another issue that was raised was support for military veterans, with one attendee advocating for King County to continue its Veterans Program and its focus on hiring and assisting local veterans.

The Employee Listening Sessions are part of the Executive’s commitment to connecting more frequently with employees – both in person at site visits and events like this one, and electronically through video and email messages.

The Executive’s team has taken the suggestions from the employees who attended the session and will work to address the concerns that the group voiced. The Executive plans to host more Employee Listening Sessions in 2017.