Organizational Excellence

Be an innovative, effective, engaged, and transparent organization focused on quality programs and services.

Goal 3, Objective 3

Support employee professional growth and retention by investing in high-quality training, development, and leadership programs.
On Track 75%

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

The Workforce Development Unit of the Human Resources Department is responsible for implementing this major strategy of Organizational Excellence by helping to ensure that the County of Sonoma is an employer of choice with a diverse workforce that reflects our community; sustains a positive work culture that builds engaged and dedicated employees; equips employees to be successful in the performance of their duties and consideration for promotions; and provides exceptional services to its various customers.

Workforce Development offers the County’s approximately 4,800 full-time, part-time, and extra-help employees a wide and rich selection of training and professional development opportunities to emphasize staff wellbeing, cultural belonging, and advancement.

All program/course key competencies are categorized under Sonoma County’s Five Values:

Equity, Accountability, Collaboration, Excellence, and Innovation. These animate the County’s values and link what we believe with how we perform. Key competencies are applied to all positions through a FOUR-TIER SYSTEM. The importance of each competency and how it is demonstrated vary according to the assigned role of an employee.

The FOUR-TIER SYSTEM guides employees in their training participation and advancement goals within the County. Trainings are placed within the respective Tiers, so employees can easily select appropriate topics and measure their progress. Racial equity is a key component in every Program Tier from new employees to senior leaders.

  • Tier 1: New Employees – The New Employee Orientation (NEO) coursework introduces newly-hired employees into the County’s culture, racial equity and belonging objectives, and provides the necessary tools and information needed to become thriving members of the County workforce.
  • Tier 2: Foundational – Individual Contributors (staff without supervisory or managerial responsibility, which are the majority of County employees) gain knowledge and skills to become productive and engaged County employees in major aspects of daily work and in the areas of Racial Equity and Belonging. The Foundational Tier provides a firm foundation for advancement. Employees may follow certain “Themes” to particularize their learning and skills. Tier 2 training is available to all County employees.
  • Tier 3: Emerging Leader – The Emerging Leader Program develops supervisory and managerial skills to increase effectiveness and engagement through identifying ways to promote communication; coaching employee performance and measurement of self-development; exploring leadership principles and practices addressing racial equity and cultural belonging; and supervising a diverse workforce. The Program is self-directed. Participants enroll in classes to fit their work schedule with supervisor approval. Employees complete a series of 10 required and two elective courses. Classes are available in-person, virtually, and web-based. Tier 3 training is available for supervisors, managers, and those interested in growing their career and developing mid-manager skills.
  • Tier 4: Executive – The LEAD (Leaders Engage in Authentic Development) Program is currently in development to replace SoCoHigher. LEAD is for those who are committed to continuous improvement and ethical and impactful leadership. The intended audience is Department Heads, Assistant and Deputy Directors, and Division, Section, and Unit managers. A primary focus of this program is for participants to create more inclusive and diverse workplaces, promote equitable opportunities, and promote a culture of respect, trust, and belonging.

Key milestone update (include relevant metrics (if applicable)

  • Compete for Funding ($5 million) January/February 2022 – complete.
  • Continue the executive leadership program – ongoing.
  • Develop a process for updating competencies for each level of employment – complete.
  • Review current training course offerings and identify/develop courses for each employment level – ongoing.
  • Develop an entry/middle management employee development “academy” –
  • Review programs annually for effectiveness and update as needed – December 2023 and ongoin

Coordination and partnership update

Intersection with Racial Equity and Social Justice (RESJ) Goal 1 – Objective 2 – Invest in an ongoing and continually developing racial equity learning program, including understanding the distinction between institutional, structural, interpersonal, and individual racism for County leadership and staff by end of 2021.  Intersection with RESJ Goal 2 – Objective 1 – Identify opportunities to enhance recruitment, hiring, employee development, and promotional processes to reflect the value of having the perspectives of people of color represented at all levels in the County workforce. Partnerships with cities – Re-establish the opportunity for cities to access County training programs on a fee basis.

Workforce Development actively engages with County stakeholders, including leadership, Office of Equity, and the Office of Equity Core Team members in development of training initiatives,  including the new LEAD program to align with the Racial Equity and Social Justice Pillar.

Community, equity, and climate update

HR consults with the Office of Equity to ensure we apply an equity lens throughout the process of developing programs and Racial Equity trainings, including descriptions and measures of competencies.

In addition to in-person training, HR Workforce Development offers on-line training (both virtual and web-based), which reduces employee travel and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in support of the County’s climate objectives.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

In FY 23/24, HR has a budget of $74,060 total for the Mid-Manager Training Academy. 2023-24 Fiscal-Year-To-Date expenditures are $17,859 and prior year 2022-23 expenditures were $30,940 totaling $48,799 inception-to-date.

An additional $25,000 in one-time funding was approved in FY23/24 to apply an Equity Lens to enhance County Training Programs. We project the full amount to be expended over FY23/24 and FY24/25.