Hello PPMA members and friends,

Here’s a question for you: Can you think of something significant that you have learned in the last 6-12 months?  Take a moment or two to reflect on that, what you learned, how it happened and what you have done since with that learning.

Sometimes it might be a light bulb moment. On other occasions it might be a build up of several experiences that gradually come together into a coherent thought. Sometimes it will be something you have read, sometimes an event you have attended, or simply a conversation with different people who help you to see things in a new way.

Talking to a group of senior managers recently, we were reflecting on the challenges ahead and what we would need to equip us to meet those challenges. We were unanimous that we would need fresh insights but we also reflected that looking back over the last 12 months it has been difficult to find the time and opportunity to pay attention to our own learning.

Why? Well, in many ways the “age of austerity” has been a wake-up call for the public sector. It has reminded us of the fundamental importance of the need to get the best out of the resources available to us and it has caused us to re-think how we do that. But there is a danger that we are now throwing out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. Caught up in the back wash of justifiable criticism of unnecessary public sector spending, are many of the valuable learning opportunities we need to ensure the fresh thinking and new insights that are so important to improving public services.

This is a “must address” issue for those of us working in HR in the public sector. We must continue to champion learning as an essential part of improvement and change.

The public sector holds a huge amount of talent, but to thrive, it must be nurtured and given the confidence to do things differently. So think hard about the learning that is going on (or not) in your own organisation right now, for your leaders, managers, teams and individuals. Has the pendulum swung too far to a place where learning is being neglected or is there investment in the right things and at the right level?  There is an art and a science to this. The data is important but so too is talking to your people to understand if and how new learning is getting into the organisation. Try asking my first question in a few places and reflect on the answers you get.

And finally, don’t neglect your own learning! PPMA is committed to supporting our members’ with new thinking and fresh insights. The latest opportunity to do that will be at our PPMA private members’ event at the CIPD conference in Manchester on 10th November, when we will be debating the most appropriate responses to the challenges we all currently face. You will also be able to access the extensive CIPD exhibition and explore new ideas and thinking about HR issues and activities. For details see PPMA’s website.

Until next week,

Anne