Hello PPMA members and friends

This week we have a guest blog from John Tizard, an independent consult working extensively across public services. Drawing on his 18 years experience as a Council Member and Leader, John has set out what he sees as the issues for us in HR in the form of a memo from a Council Leader to his HR Director:

HR Director – key strategic advisor to the Council Leader

As Council Leader returning to the Town Hall after a summer recess holiday I am seeking key strategic advice and updates from the key members of the Council’s corporate management team.  This is my e-mail to the Strategic HR Director

Dear Director

I very much hope that you have been able to have a break and have enjoyed a good holiday.

There is no doubt that the next few years (and may be more) will the most challenging any of will have experienced.  We have started to make serious budget cuts and take some very difficult decisions.  I fear that over the next three to five years, unless there is a massive change on national government policy and the global economy, we are going to have even less money but greater demand for our core services.  There is also a raft of national policy ‘reforms’ that are going to have major implications for our organisation and for our public sector partners.

In facing these challenges, it is vital that we are always focused on what is best for the people of our borough.  It is also important that we recognise that the people whom we employ, and indeed whom are our partners and suppliers employ are our key resource.  We have to continue to show them respect; involve them in our decision making; and empower them so that they can deliver services effectively and efficiently.

As part of our medium term planning process, I wish the Council to:
·    identify both our own and our key partners’ people requirements – numbers, skills and behaviours for the next five years
·    adopt a people strategy that enables these requirements to be met – this should include a ‘talent strategy’ to ensure that we enable people to develop and be promoted to new roles and for us to attract the right external talent to supplement and refresh our own teams; a ‘people development strategy’; a support programme as we go through more change; and a reward and remuneration policy that meets our national obligations and ensures that we are a competitive and exemplar employer
·    ensure that all our key people have the necessary skills and behaviours to collaborate well – e.g. negotiate, persuade, communicate and act as our ambassadors

In addition and in advance of April 2013, I wish us to develop and implement the following specific people policies:
·    a local ‘living wage’ for the Council and all the organisations that it contracts with (and, where we able to persuade them, our public sector partners too)
·    a volunteering programme so that our staff and where possible those employed by our suppliers and partners can be supported to be active citizens
·    a programme to support the local voluntary and community sector’s HR and people management
·    a programme of apprenticeships, and paid internships and work experience for young people in the Borough – for the Council and its partners and suppliers participating
·    an effective involvement programme that goes beyond our classic staff consultation to ensure that staff can and are encouraged to contribute to our change programme, commissioning and procurement
·    a practical  communication programme which is genuinely two way within the staff structures and between politicians and staff including surveys and focus-group work
·    a new mechanism for engaging with trade unions so that they can be pro-active as well as re-active
·    support for staff who need advice to consider alternative service delivery models – including mutual

I recognise that this is a challenging agenda.  I am relying on all the Cabinet members who support it and the corporate management team to be its champions.  However, I am specifically relying on you, as our Strategic HR Director, together with the CEO to drive our people agenda. I want to be involved, to play an active role and be seen as a resource on whom you can call, based on your advice. As a start, I would like to have regular face to face briefings on progress and more generally on HR issues

Thanks for your help. And please – let’s meet soon to discuss.

Good wishes
Council Leader

John Tizard

Independant consultant, advisor and commentator