Don't Forget the Basics

Hello PPMA members and friends.

On Sunday night I sat down to watch the Sports Personality of the Year Show. Whilst I was somewhat disappointed to see that Chris Powell was not among the nominees, it was fantastic to relive the highlights of what has been an amazing year of British sporting achievement. Even my bottom lip wobbled at the replay of the moments of triumph in the Olympic Stadium, the Velodrome, Wimbledon, Flushing Meadows et al. My own favourite sporting moment of 2012 was the 100 metres final for blind or partially sighted women athletes, which they run with a guide and the joy of the winner, once she realised she had won and then, when she danced her way up the podium to accept the gold medal encapsulated the spirit of the Olympic movement.

My theme for my year as President is of course, the Olympic motto, “Higher, Faster, Stronger”, emphasising the fact that success comes from being prepared, from working hard and delivering when it matters. In her blog from last week, Sarah Messenger, from the LGA, emphasised that there must be a radical shift in the way Councils design and deliver services, if local government is to meet the challenge of sustaining services despite reducing resources. And not only will local government be affected, but all aspect of public service. Changes in operating models, must be accompanied by a fresh approach to the way we manage, develop and reward our people. The PPMA has initiated an important project on workforce planning, working alongside SOLACE and Penna and a very successful event was held earlier this mind, with another of our partners on the project, PWC, entitled the “HR Mindset”, exploring the impact of change on HR.

In choosing “Higher, Faster, Stronger” as my theme, I wanted to emphasise that it is not just about finding new solutions, it is about getting the basics right and delivering excellent HR practice in a much more difficult environment. I was reminded of this again this week by the publication of a report from the CIPD entitled, “Managing For Sustainable Employee Engagement: Developing a Behavioural Framework”. The report highlighted how managers who were calm under pressure, invested time getting to know staff as individuals and who discussed workers’ career development were likely to benefit from higher levels of engagement and lower levels of absence. The research underpinning the report found that managers who consult people, rather than tell them what to do, take responsibility when things go wrong and ask after their workers’ well-being, were the most successful.

Now unless I am missing something, there is nothing dramatically new here. These are the attributes we have been trying to instil in our managers since I started working in HR. Who remembers “Managing By Wandering About”? What is different of course is the focus on engagement and the need to sustain productivity through these tough times. We need the basics done well by our managers and by HR.

In my own Council we finalising a new programme for Leadership and Management Development, to start in the New Year. This programme designed for Team Leaders through to Directors is intended to be focused on the future and will have greater emphasis on working in partnership, commissioning and clienting. But it equally focuses on managers having an awareness of their own impact, on how to have difficult conversations and how to build positive, innovative workplaces. These are not new areas of development, but we will be placing much more emphasis on assessing managers and holding them to account through appraisal.

When I mentioned to friends and family on Sunday that I had a PPMA blog to write, there were a number of suggestions along the lines of presenting the HR perspective on the Christmas story – what were those shepherds doing sitting around when the Angel of the Lord came down. Where was the performance management? You get the drift, but I thought I would settle for a brief Christmas quiz:

  • Which Prime Minister adopted the slogan “back to basics”?
  • Which management guru adopted the phrase “MBWA”?
  • What is the Latin for “Higher, Faster, Stronger”?
  • Who was the winner of the Women’s 100m T11 final at the Paralympic Games in London?
  • What was the winning time?

I would like to conclude by wishing you all a very Happy Christmas and a tremendous New Year.

Have fun and see you in 2013.


By | 2017-07-30T12:23:22+00:00 December 18th, 2012|Categories: Martin Rayson|6 Comments


  1. Raffaela Goodby 19th December 2012 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    The shepherds were experiencing presenteeism and had been displaying only the bare minimum when caring for their sheep. When the angel of the Lord came down they felt inspired by the leadership displayed and the thought of a common goal – seeking out the baby Jesus, was engaging and a clear strategic narrative for them to understand and follow.

    When they set out for the stable they didn’t know where they were going or what they would find, but they followed the star as they believed in Gabriel and thought he was an engaging leader. They brought the sheep with them and didn’t think about the flex, as they were displaying discretionary effort.

    When they reached the stable they found the baby Jesus, and his mother Mary, and a stable full of animals. They were able to have employee voice by kneeling by the baby Jesus and paying him homage. The integrity of the angel and narrative was maintained, and they had the outcome of the seeing the values on the wall, displayed visibly in the humility and holiness of the nativity scene.

    They were then recognised and thanked and shared in the good will once the wise men arrived, so they had peer support and recognition, and the three wise men learned from the best practise of the shepherds.

    Everyone was so engaged they all told the story for the next 2000 years 🙂

    The end

  2. Leatham 19th December 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    Always an interesting time to reflect back on what has been achieved throughout the year or what has remained ‘unwrapped’ … so from a PPMA perspective I am delighted that with the help of Raffaela, the support of Martin the the PPMA Board we have managed to get Rising Stars up and running ….I juts hope that it turns out to engage with the imagination of PPMA membership to succeed – thanks also to Manpower for funding the event…..i always love trying to connect with the next generation of leaders and opening gthe door to enable then to succeed.

    From ESCC’s perspective I am delighted that we have been able to promote the importance of resilience building in the workforce and giving employees the chance to learn how they can develop skills to take control and have better choices in life….

    On a personal level there are a few things I will take from 2012 – reaching 50 and having great fun celebrating the event with my family – sharing my civil partnership with mt family and friends – it seems strange though I was reflecting (just like the shepherds) – if this was my last breath what woulod I regret that I would never hav esaid / done – and the key thing was sharing with my family that I was openly gay – funny when you think I have lived with my partner for 24 years – so that is what I did…brought the elephant from under the table…and heer i am still alive – my family connections in tack – and enjoyed my first anniversary. So that was my biggest lesson of the year – never leave the elephant under the table – either at work or in your peronal life – it is truely the way to lightening your life and libertaing youre choices for the future.

    So friends that is what I feel the shepherds would have been talking about….reflecting on the magic of life and the greatest gift lfe can bring which costs nothing – the warmth, support and love of family and friends…so if you have done so recently – those that mean something to you – tell them how you feel about them and seal it with a hug…it costs nothing and means a great deal to the receiver.

    So wishing you all, memories of love , old and new, to kindle warmth inside and throoughout, your winter wonderland.

  3. Richard Crouch 19th December 2012 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Lots of inspiring thoughts here and I think that’s what makes the 2012 very special. It’s been a tough year for HR, as it has been in commerce generally and to coin an old phrase, the tough in us has certainly had to get going ….and that’s taken inspiration.

    And 2014 will need more of the same no doubt but let’s hope that we can move beyond simply surviving but more towards living. As an ex sheep farmer, just thinking about living is what sheep do and in my experience they don’t even do that particularly well!

    Have a great Christmas and New Year. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, simply have a well deserved break.

    And congratulations to Leatham on being 50. Who would have thought it? When I next see him I must ask him what it feels like……

    Very best wishes


  4. Martin Rayson 20th December 2012 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Good to hear from the three wise PPMA social media buffs. I do like the idea of “no regrets” being an HR theme for 2013. Enjoy the festive break.

    Anyone else out there?

  5. Joanna Ruffle 28th December 2012 at 11:07 am - Reply

    Belated seasons greetings from a very wet Southend – but not I suspect as wet as some other parts of the UK! ( Any trains running yet, Richard?)

    Raffaela – thanks for the insight into the shepherds – I will never listen to that carol in quite the same way again! Although I do think that maybe they belived they were empowering their sheep and therefore they were not sitting around at all – but managing from a distance!

    Absolutely agree with Leatham about not leaving elephants under the table. People rarely spend time on their deathbeds regretting what they have done or said but rather what they have NOT done or said.
    And a belated Happy Birthday, Leatham! And huge congratulations to you and your partner.

    As a francophile, I love Edith Piaf and ‘No Regrets’ has to be one of the best.
    But my personal favourite and one that I think rings true for HR – past, present and future – has to be King Lear ‘Speak what we feel and not what we ought to say’

    So a very Happy New Year to one and all.
    2012 was an amazing year so we now should have the self belief and the confidence that anything is possible and we can make 2013 an even better one.

  6. Raffaela Goodby 29th December 2012 at 5:26 pm - Reply

    Joanna I just had to google Edith Piaf – you are very cultured. When I read ‘no regrets’ I instantly thought ‘Take That’ 🙂

    Happy New Year!

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