InTouch – Happy New Era!

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Happy New Year!  Are you ready to roll?

I hope so, because this new year kicks off a new era at the County. On January 7, two new members will be sworn in to our Board of Supervisors. Welcoming two at one time is a first for me and all but the most veteran County employees. It’s been 24 years since two new board members were sworn in!

When I say a new era, I’m talking not only about the current board transition, but the practice of regular turnover in elected leadership since term limits are in place. The maximum time an elected official can serve as a supervisor is two terms. So our culture must adapt to continuous change.

New elected leadership means new policies and more dynamic shifts in priorities. Our successes of the past will be the foundation for the successes of the future. Old ways of doing things may be reviewed, tweaked or maybe even discarded.  And new ideas and initiatives will be implemented. 

Where we direct our energies might shift. But who we are won’t. We’ll remain dedicated to exceptional public service and the principles of HEART. We’ll demand the highest ethical standards. We’ll encourage innovation and continuous improvement in all areas of our operations.  We’ll be outcome driven and expect excellence in all that we do. 

Over the past several decades, we’ve never stood still, and we’ve shown great flexibility in responding to new demands. Now we’ll need to step it up and be even more nimble than we’ve ever been, as individuals and as an organization.

Our new supervisors and their staffs have an adjustment to make as well. Think back to the learning curve you faced when you got to the County. It’s a big, complex operation. All those acronyms! They’ll need our help in showing them how we function and how the fresh ideas they bring to the table can make their way into what we do.  

The familiar is comforting – but change is exciting. Invigorating, even. Embrace it! And as you do, reflect on some new year’s resolutions of your own. As I’ve talked to employees over the past couple weeks here are a few they’ve shared:

  • Solve problems, don’t just share them.

  • Be a positive force in our residents’ lives.

  • Listen more.

  • Appreciate and help co-workers.

  • Become more tech savvy.

  • Use social media to help, not to criticize.

  • Take a daily walk or run to enjoy the beauty of San Diego (exercise is a side benefit!).

  • Turn off the TV, set the phone aside and have a face-to-face conversation.

  • Smile more.

  • Relax – everything isn’t a crisis.

  • Make at least one unexpected good thing happen every day for someone.

As we close 2018, let me reiterate how grateful I am to each of you for your hard work and dedication this past year. Your commitment was extraordinary. Now, let’s ring in the new era together. We have many exciting achievements ahead. Let’s get going! 

InTouch – Look at What You’ve Done!

InTouch – Look at What You’ve Done!

Each of us stays so busy with the day-to-day demands of our own jobs that it can be hard to get a sense of how all our work adds up. And the County does such a vast variety of things, any one of us won’t be aware of much of what our colleagues are up to.

When you get a big picture look at a full year’s worth of accomplishments and services delivered, it’s pretty darn amazing.

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InTouch – Use It or Not, Social Media is Changing Us

InTouch – Use It or Not, Social Media is Changing Us

Love it or hate it? With social media, it’s easy to be torn between the two.

It’s a great way to keep up with friends, share pictures of the kids, get recommendations, and be entertained. In the wrong hands, it can be manipulative and a weapon.

You can use it to expand your horizons or build a bubble. You can efficiently keep tabs on news and professional topics or get sucked into hours of mindless nonsense.

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Walk the HEART Talk

Walk the HEART Talk

Hard to believe, but we’re coming up on four years since we started our Customer Experience Initiative and spread the message of serving with HEART. Since it was rolled out, I’ve been delighted at how fired up people get about it, making decorations, coming up with departmental recognition, sharing Positive Experiences and so on.

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A Salute to Our Sheriff’s Department

A Salute to Our Sheriff’s Department

We have a number of priorities as a County. But public safety is at the top of the list. You need that basic sense of security before we can strive for our many other worthy goals.

Many departments and programs play a part in that. I want to take a minute to recognize the most visible members of our public safety efforts: the men and women of our Sheriff’s Department.

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How We Make San Diego a Great Place to Live… and Visit

How We Make San Diego a Great Place to Live… and Visit

Summertime in San Diego, and the livin’ is… busy.

We get visitors all year round, but summer is the season we’re especially teeming with tourists. While we may not be crazy about the crowds, we know tourism is a major driver of the local economy. More than 35 million people came to the region last year, spending billions of dollars.

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Suicide is Preventable and There is Help

Our hearts sank as we heard back-to-back stories last week of two famous people taking their own lives. At the very same time came a troubling new report from the CDC showing suicide rates on the rise across the country. While our local rate has stabilized, on average, we still see a San Diegan die by suicide each day.

The celebrity deaths are evidence that all the success in the world won’t make someone immune to depression. It strikes people regardless of their race, ethnicity or economic status. 

And it can clearly reach our fellow County employees and their loved ones. I want to offer a reminder of a few ways you can get help for yourself or take care of those around you.

First, our Employee Assistance Program can provide counseling for you or members of your household. It’s free and strictly confidential. You can visit the website or call 888-777-6665 (Sheriff’s Dept. sworn staff have their own EAP at 800-222-9691). Please don’t hesitate to take advantage of this service.    

For the public, but certainly available to employees as well, the County sponsors the Access and Crisis Line where trained counselors offer advice on handling a mental health crisis. The number is (888) 724-7240.

I also want to encourage everyone to be alert to risk factors among your co-workers, family or friends.  Most people who take their own lives show some kind of warning signs. These can include:

  • Talk of hurting or killing oneself

  • Hopelessness or helplessness

  • Divorce, separation, stress on family

  • Loss of health (real or imaginary)

  • Loss of job, home, personal security

  • Increased alcohol or drug use

  • Isolation from family and friends

  • Daring or risk-taking behavior

Looking beyond that, there’s a suicide prevention technique known as QPR: Question, Persuade and Refer. It’s available through the Suicide Prevention Council.  Additionally, Mental Health America of San Diego County has a training called Mental Health First Aid that teaches you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses.

News like we’ve had recently naturally leaves us saddened and confused. But experts stress that by seeking help and watching out for each other, suicide can be prevented. Let’s focus on what we can do and the steps we can take to safeguard our own and others’ well-being.

What Do You Like Most About Working at the County?

What Do You Like Most About Working at the County?

One of the things that’s given me great heart in my years at the County is hearing how many of you really enjoy working here.

I want you to like your job, because, for one, I want you to be happy in how you spend your days. And also, if we enjoy what we’re doing, we’ll do a better job for our customers.

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Here’s Where We’re Going

Here’s Where We’re Going

If you want to know where you’re going, you check a map. If you want to know where the County is going, you look at our operational plan and budget.

So where are we headed? In the plan we’ve just released for the coming year, we expect to spend $6.2 billion – nearly half a billion dollars more than this year. While that amount covers countless items, we are stepping up our investments in four broad areas. Those really represent our priorities for the year ahead.

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Let's Give a Big Hand to Those Giving Their Time

Let's Give a Big Hand to Those Giving Their Time

If someone handed you $40 million as a gift, what would you say?

“Wow! Thank you so much,” would hardly capture the depth of your gratitude.

That amount is roughly the dollar value the County gets each year from the combined efforts of its volunteers. Tens of thousands of people, donating their time to help us provide better services. We thank them all, and in a few weeks, our Board of Supervisors will hold its annual volunteer recognition event to express their appreciation. We quite simply could not do what we do without them.

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Three Who've Won Our HEART

Three Who've Won Our HEART

It’s that month when we give special attention to matters of the heart. So it seems a good time for me to turn to matters of HEART.

When we launched our Customer Experience Initiative a few years ago, one of the key elements was making sure we prominently recognize exceptional customer service. InSite features kudos in the Positive Experiences section. Departments have a variety of ways they celebrate customer service achievements. Executives recognize employees in their quarterly updates with me. 

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18 Ways to Get 2018 in Gear

18 Ways to Get 2018 in Gear

Happy New Year, everyone!

You can come up with a new goal anytime. But there’s something about the start of a new year that inspires you to set new marks for yourself. That fresh calendar is a clean slate just asking to be filled out.

I’ve always been big on setting goals. You know our organization runs on them. But since I was a young adult, I’ve come up with my own goals each year. Some have been professional, others personal. It’s important to have a mix.

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The Greatest Gifts

The Greatest Gifts

The season of giving is here. And I want to share with you a few gifts that mean more to me than anything.

They’re words of thanks from the people we serve.

You all work every day to make a positive difference in people’s lives. So when we get notes from people we’ve helped, confirming in their own words that we really did make a difference, they’re just like little presents to me.

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