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Teaching the Albatross to Dance! Jaime Tincher’s 7 steps for developing a 21st-century state workforce

Bruce Corrie, Minnesota Business Magazine


Teaching the Albatross to Dance

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton’s Chief of Staff Jaime Tincher is leading an effort to create a 21st-century workforce in our state with these 7 key strategic elements:

1. Begin with the facts.
The state has a huge pool of more than 36,000 employees with around 1,000 jobs churning every year in a wide range of occupations, from snow plow operators and engineers to zoologists and economists. This talent pool is not very diverse and does not reflect the changing demographics in Minnesota. The culture of the workforce system is rigid and fossilized through years of doing things the same way. The state’s workforce system resembles an awkward albatross unable to serve citizens in an effective and inclusive way.

2. Communicate thoroughly.
Tincher secured the buy-in of cabinet heads. There is also an active consultation with the labor unions. She then created the position of state executive recruiter whose task was to help diversify the top executive leadership in state government.

3. Begin the first wave of change.
A new Web portal was launched, hiring systems were made more transparent with new positions kept open and accessible, and the classification and descriptions of positions were recalibrated to make the jobs accessible to a larger group of people.

4. Launch a new strategy for middle management.
Introduce a more flexible, relevant and inclusive talent management system for the entire enterprise.

5. Recalibrate jobs.
Gain a better understanding and documentation of the skills and tasks required in each job to allow the ability to recalibrate positions and roles as needed in the entire enterprise.

6. Develop inclusive career pathways to core occupations in state government.
For example, creating a pathway from a nursing assistant to a registered nurse or from a high school student to engineering graduate and finally an engineer.

7. Rebrand.
Cultivate a new identity of the 21st-century state employee who is competent, flexible and culturally intelligent.
Governor Dayton’s supplemental budget proposal has a bold and strong intent to increase diversity in state government workforce from 10 to 20 percent before he leaves office. The plan is a $2.6 million item in Dayton’s $100 million proposal to address racial disparities in the state and is part of the strategy for deeper structural change underway.  The Albatross is beginning to dance!