DOH-Hillsborough provides public health services to Hillsborough County, the fourth most populous county (pop. 1,323,059)¹ in Florida, located on the state's central west coast. Hillsborough County includes the large metropolitan city of Tampa as well as several rural communities. Residents are diverse in race and ethnicity, including 51.2% white non-Hispanic, 26.6% Hispanic, 15.6% black non-Hispanic and 3.8% Asian.¹ The county's median household income is $51,681, and 16.4% of residents live under 100% poverty level.¹
The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (DOH-Hillsborough) has 368 staff members (23% male and 77% female; 42% White, 24% Black, and 31% Hispanic) serving in ten locations across Hillsborough County. DOH-Hillsborough maintains an annual budget of $38,302,081 from federal, state, local grant funds, and fees.
Senior leadership recognized that, with an aging workforce, leadership development was critical to meet our agency's mission and vision and to ensure the sustainability of a competent workforce into the future. In 2007, the program Cultivating Successful Leaders (CSL) was launched.
The CSL program supports our succession planning goal to develop leaders within the organization to meet the public health challenges of our agency, community, and state. The main objective of the CSL program is to provide staff information and tools for personal growth, leadership development and career enhancement. The CSL program is open to all staff, regardless of role or position in the agency. Preference is given to front line staff and those not currently in a leadership role.
In 2006, a work team (trainers, managers, and, senior leaders) was formed to design the CSL curriculum, to develop an application process, and to identify internal subject matter experts (SMEs). Leadership concepts, critical thinking and interpersonal skills approaches were evaluated in addition to existing leadership programs. The program curriculum, designed around key themes (Self-Awareness, Leadership Approaches, Team Work, Personal and Team Development, Presentation Skills and Ongoing Development) was aligned with agency leadership competencies (Inspiring Trust, Self-Awareness and Effective Communications). Applicants are required to provide a written personal statement (200-250 words) answering the following questions:
- What do you hope to gain as an individual through participation in the CSL program?
- How will the leadership development program help you contribute to DOH-Hillsborough?
- What example(s) of informal or formal leadership have you demonstrated in your work unit?
Applicants, their supervisor and senior leader are required to sign a pledge of commitment (professionalism standards) to the CSL program. To graduate, participants must attend all sessions, complete required reading and assignments and create a project. Annually, up to 15 employees are selected to participate.
Based on results from a 10-year assessment, the program objectives of personal growth, leadership development, and career enhancement were met:
- Since inception in 2007, there have been 104 graduates, 49% (51/104) are still with DOH-Hillsborough, 59% (30/51) have been promoted and 60% (18/30) are now in supervisory positions, with 7 as program managers.
- Of the 53 participants who left DOH-Hillsborough, 43% (23/53) did so for promotional opportunities. Ten remain in public health careers, including two who are currently with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In 2018, two employees from a neighboring county were invited into the program. The feedback was positive, so two additional employees from other counties will continue to be included in future years.
Factors of success include:
- Commitment and Collaboration
- Senior Leadership: development and support of program, participation as SMEs.
- Supervisors: supporting participants and allowing time to develop projects.
- Graduates: marketing the program, mentoring applicants, becoming SMEs, developing team building activities and supporting orientation and graduation.
- Facilitators: internal SMEs
- Continuous Quality Improvement
- Feedback/Assessments: recommendations of participants are valued, evaluated and acted upon. The 10-year program assessment results show the positive impact. Participants report receiving promotions, increased confidence, increased self-awareness, and increased understanding of others. Additionally, many are applying the principles and tools covered in the program.
- Graduates are acknowledged and recognized in various ways: Graduation Ceremony, Assistant Director Updates, General Staff Days, Intranet, Employee Certificate, and a token memento.
- Projects are shared across Division, and posted to our Intranet.
The effectiveness of the CSL program is measured by the number of staff who stay in public health and advance their careers. Of the graduates 59% (61/104) remain in public health, and 51% (53/104) have advanced their careers. To maintain a competent workforce into the future, public health must focus efforts into succession planning through programs like CSL.