Hello PPMA member and friends
Our blog post this week has been written by our President Barry Pirie and it comes from the latest PPMA/MJ Supplement. In the article he calls for a moment of focus as the HR sector gears up for more financially challenging times ahead.
“Now that the national elections are over, and we have had time to digest the Queen’s Speech, it is time for all of us, including HR colleagues across the public sector to focus on the direction we will be going in over the next few years. As HR professionals, our value to our sector is not only the HR skills we bring to the table but an overall understanding of the bigger picture for our organisations and what it means for them – and that is what we have captured in our latest PPMA Supplement.
Over the past five years the concept of ‘more for less’ has defined what we do in local government. These three words, born from the austerity agenda, have challenged councils to address the services they deliver and how they deliver them in the future.
In the next five years I think a new phrase must dominate our approach to the cuts which lie ahead: we must move on from the idea of ‘more for less’ to creating organisations which are ‘smaller but better’.
There are three important reasons to grasp the need for improvement in what we do right now.
First of these is that the people in communities expect and deserve quality services which are delivered effectively by councils.
The second is that we are clearly not making the most of the tools that can help us right now. The most powerful of these is technology. We are a long way behind how our citizens expect us to provide services and communicate with them based on their consumer experiences. We need to reinvent and rewire the way we deliver services so they are more effective.
The third is the necessity to grasp that the way that local public service providers have organised themselves will have to change in the face of new government policy. The idea of combined authorities as we have seen in Manchester, co-delivery of services across the charity and private sector is here to stay and we can now add to this, a desire for devolution in formats other than that of cities, bringing with it an interesting challenge for the previously accepted mayoral models.
These throw up substantial challenges for the way local government goes about its future business.”
We need to find new ways of organising people and teams who can work across traditional organisational boundaries whether these are joint ventures or wholly new public bodies.
We also need leaders, effective in business administration but with core skills in anticipating, managing and driving change.
Our public service ethos will still be at the heart of our organisations but our people need to see change as an expectation in their jobs not an exception.
We’ll also have to see our work in a different light. Our understanding of public service delivery will shift from organisations who ‘own’ services from end-to-end to one where we are responsible for outcomes which are delivered by a range of partners.
Finally, we will have to be resilient, working at a faster pace and not just coping with change but thriving on it.
Whether it is changing service delivery, building new organisations or driving technology enabled change people are central to every part of the change we face in local government.
This means the effectiveness with which councils work with their people will be critical to the future success of local government.
We must be the go-to partners who map the gaps in capability, put in place the new structures and develop the right skills among leaders, managers and colleagues throughout our organisations.
There is no doubt that the changes ahead will be challenging for the sector but it is vital that we approach them with the right ambition.
We need to understand that if we seize the opportunity to do things differently and redefine our work, our sector will not only be able to attract the talented people to drive for the future but also improve the way we deliver services for the better.
That has to be good outcome for everyone.”
Barry Pirie, PPMA President and Associate Director, People and Business at Wiltshire Council