As a first time blogger for the PPMA, I thought I could not go far wrong by following the example of our President, whose excellent pieces include reference to her experiences as a rugby mum.
Now my son, recently 18, has never really forgiven me for encouraging him (he would say “forcing”) to attend rugby training as a spindly 10-year-old. As a consequence he will not watch the game and as a consequence our attention on Saturday was not on the important game played at Twickenham, but on the Champions League final at Wembley. Anyway, after the outcome of the game became obvious (about ten minutes into the game), my mind wandered to this blog and how I might weave the analogy of football and the masterful display by Barcelona into this blog about all matters HR. The value of teamwork obviously springs to mind, the importance of people knowing their roles and being trained to deliver them and the way in which brilliant individuals display their skills in a team context to deliver success.
The trouble is I cannot make an easy link to the thing I actually want to share with you, which is the outcomes from an interesting event which I attended last week, along with a number of PPMA colleagues. The event, put on by SOLACE, was entitled “HR Leaders, Partners or Followers” and focused on the role HR needs to play in enabling change in our organisations, something of great interest to me in my role as lead on HR Transformation.
Rob Whiteman, MD of what I think is still called Local Government Improvement and Development, gave a typically forthright and challenging talk about the shifts taking place in the local government arena and the extent to which current people management practices were fit for purpose and enabling of change. This stimulated a debate about the extent to which current grading structures, our approach to performance management and productivity actually inhibited, rather than fostered progress. Are we ready to embrace new operating models and the challenge of engaging in a different way with our communities? Do we have the kind of leadership that will drive change and if we do, how does HR help stimulate the debate about changing leaders?
The opportunity current circumstances provide for people in HR to become true partners or indeed leaders of change was recognised (and this is true for all parts of the public sector). Those present certainly saw great value in continuing the debate with other key stakeholders about the role HR can play and how people management practices may themselves need to change.
One of the issues raised was that of reward. Everyone can see how important it is to sustain a positive psychological contract in the public sector. But the “deal” with our staff has to change. The PPMA have recognised the significance of this issue and are co-sponsoring a project to explore the current and potential future Employee Value Proposition (or “deal”) in local government. The project will look at three local authorities, a County Council, a District Council and a London Borough and explore with people in those organisations what will sustain motivation and productivity, as the operating environment changes and many of the things that underpinned the old deal disappear.
This is not just about pay and pensions. To finally make that analogy to sport (and to show I do pay attention to rugby), the magnificent defence by the Saracens team in the last ten minutes to deny Leicester at Twickenham, was not a consequence of their pay packages or their win bonus, but by personal pride, a desire to be successful and a determination not to let their teammates and their fans down. Our own staff are driven by a desire to succeed and HR must take the lead in establishing HR practices that enable them to do so in the changed world in which we operate.