Sharing success Featured

7:00pm EDT February 28, 2007

The first step in giving employees recognition is discovering what they actually want as a reward. That’s why, with some help, Judith B. Van Ginkel structured a program and strategy to recognize her 125 workers at all levels at Every Child Succeeds.

“As we begin to talk about it, we need to have everyone involved,” she says. “We might think that someone wants a plaque, but someone may rather have a gift certificate to go out to dinner. We wanted a more structured process, and what we are doing was responsive to the needs and the interests of the people being recognized.”

Van Ginkel is president of ECS, a voluntary program that offers first-time mothers and their families support to help ensure an optimal start for their children.

“In the public arena, there are hundreds of programs and hundreds of activities to be involved with. It’s our responsibility to our stakeholders to explain why this produces results,” she says of the program, which has an annual budget of $8 million.

Smart Business spoke with Van Ginkel about how to handle success and create confidence in others.

Q: How do you handle failure?

You learn from it. Somebody explained to me, if you have something that doesn’t work, it’s the best opportunity you have to learn what to do next.

You don’t want to make huge mistakes about things that are going to be destructive to the organization, because we have many good minds and we try to not allow that to happen. If something happens that might not have been the right thing, then we go back, learn from it and learn from mistakes.

It’s sort of a periodic reassessment and renewal.

Q: How do you create confidence in others?

By delivering on your promises and understanding realistically what is possible. Part of this creating confidence is the way I and others present ECS.

We document that because we are an evidenced-based program. We collect a lot of research and collect a lot of information that demonstrates the investment in Every Child Succeeds produces results.

Q: How do you handle success?

We have begun to get national attention, both in terms of program operations and program outcomes. We have begun to get other requests from other communities to have an Every Child Succeeds program.

We have just begun deploying in our service area, something called the Every Child Succeeds model of home visitation. We are using two national models. With what we have learned, we are beginning to improve those models.

We are not ready yet to send ECS outside of Greater Cincinnati, but we do anticipate a time when that will happen. What we will probably do is begin working with one or two communities who are willing to work with us as pilot sites and we’ll develop this together. We need to understand ECS grew up in Greater Cincinnati and we responded to the needs of our community, (but) every community is different.

What this interest has done is it has caused us to ask ourselves questions about taking what we do and packaging it in a way where another community could use it. You begin to structure and unify the various components of your program in a way that works better here.

We have 15 agencies so anything we do we have to have in a form that 15 agencies can use. We have started to work on that now and it will be some time before we get it finished. Through the ECS model and the way we are viewing that, in a sense, it becomes a bridge to the next level.

The way I see this is most communities have home visiting programs. I wouldn’t anticipate or recommend they get rid of their home visiting program and add ours.

What I would see is that they take the things we have learned to them and that would be overlaid on the home visiting program they have, (and) improve what they are doing based on the learning we have been able to develop here.

Q: How are decisions made at ECS?

We do things in a collaborative way. The board is very involved in decision-making, but that’s not to say they get involved in the minutia of day-to-day activities.

But they provide good, sound direction that we follow. If we are in a place where something is changing, we will develop the materials and go back to the board.

HOW TO REACH: Every Child Succeeds, (513) 636-2830 or