Hello PPMA members and Friends,
Leadership in the public sector has never been more under the spotlight, never been more demanding and never been more subject to scrutiny. So at PPMA we thought it was time for a different sort of scrutiny. Our latest contribution to the debate on leadership issues in the public sector is our collaboration with CIPD on a new research report, published today: Leading culture change: employee engagement and public service transformation.
The report debunks the myth of town hall bureaucrats and highlights how chief executives and HR Directors in a range of local service organisations are leading efforts to transform service delivery in line with central Governments’ localism agenda. It highlights the priority Chief Executives are placing on involving staff in creating new values that underpin the new customer-centric service delivery cultures they are trying to build. The research demonstrates that a radical reengineering of public service delivery, coupled with cost cutting, can’t happen overnight-it involves changing public sector values and culture, as well as organisation design, and how people are managed from the boardroom to the front line.
The research used as its framework the four key enablers of engagement identified by David MacLeod in his report Engaging for success: Enhancing performance through employee engagement:
· Organisational purpose-do senior leaders and managers set out a clear organisational purpose through a strategic narrative people in the organisation can understand and buy into?
· Integrity-to what extent is there a sense of integrity underpinned by behaviour throughout an organisation that is consistent with its stared values?
· Engaging managers-do managers at all levels have the people management skills to win employees’ hearts and minds?
· Voice-do employees believe they can feed their views and ideas upwards to senior managers and feel that their opinions are respected?
I am heartened by one of the conclusions in the report, that a number of councils, fire and police authorities “are doing a remarkably good job” in facing up to the challenge of the changes and the cuts required without fundamentally undermining morale and damaging services. One of the clear messages in the report is about the need to be straight with staff about the scale of the challenges and to begin to build a convincing story about future direction.
I am heartened too that HR appears to be at the heart of the transformation process, making extensive use of OD skills , either in the shape of OD specialists, or through senior HR generalists , to deliver a range of services well beyond the traditional HR function. The report concludes that the HR function in local government, police and fire services is responding to the increased pressures and expectations placed on it and, as a result is enjoying increased authority and respect from colleagues.
This research and the rich organisational stories it shares gives us all important food for thought. You can access a copy of the report here . If you are one of those HR bravehearts who have already put your head above the organisational parapet, this research tells you that you are not alone. If you are still thinking about it-be inspired!