Our Senior Project Manager, Paul, offers his advice for creating a forward-thinking development culture. He discusses the importance of skills development and the value that should be put on those in your organisation.
We’ve all heard the phrase that ‘an organisation is only as good as its people’. And it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Without people, organisations simply would not work. They are its lifeblood. In the public sector, maybe even more so: its people are self-motivated, providers, enablers, hands-on doers. However, to get the most out of our people, we must build the right culture and environment for them to thrive in. Now, more than ever, the public sector needs organisations which encourage growth and success, and drive innovation, ideas and change.
How can we ensure we provide the right environment and culture for people to thrive?
Local authorities are experiencing increasing demands on limited budgets, greater customer expectations, an ageing population and complex political and social pressures. Councils undergoing change programmes need skilled teams of people who are committed to improving services.
A good manager will see their peoples’ potential and support them to realise this potential. The new processes should be designed by staff from all departmental areas and at all levels of seniority. It can be surprising and refreshing to see where the next superstar will be found!
At Trueman Change, we work with people at all levels in the public sector. We have worked with some excellent managers who have given their employees space to grow and thrive. This allows them to be as good as the organisation needs them to be and to personally grow in confidence and ability.
We’ve found that there are three key tips to get the most out of your people:
1. Empower people
Sometimes staff are given responsibilities without the authority to make change happen. Giving them the power to make decisions rather than them having to refer everything to a senior manager gives them autonomy and encourages self-reliance.
Then, they will gain self-belief and the confidence to make positive suggestions for improvement and to challenge the status quo. Empowered employees are much more likely to become part of the solution and, with the right guidance, be a powerful ally in a change programme. I’ve seen this empowerment work effectively when staff have been given permission to do the right thing for the customer.
If that meant using their initiative rather than following a set of tight rules, then so be it. A wider scope of options gave the staff member the freedom to provide an innovative solution to provide excellent customer service. Mistakes can be made using this approach, but if managers are tolerant and consider errors as learning points rather than performance issues, it can be really effective. The rate of errors will decrease as the employee’s skill set develops.
2. Celebrate success
It is important that individual and team success is recognised and celebrated. These success stories come in many different forms and could include reaching a project milestone, receiving positive feedback from colleagues or customers or meeting personal training goals. Recognising people’s achievements can boost employee morale and show them that you don’t take them for granted.
Celebrating success, however small, can lead to greater confidence and encourage staff to continually improve.
The knowledge that you are appreciated for doing a good job is powerful, but also consider developing a reward culture where the employee receives a small token for their success. This doesn’t need to be of great material value, could just be as simple as a personalised ‘thank you’ card
3. Develop key skills
A successful and forward-thinking organisation needs to be sustainable. We support organisations to bolster their internal skills and capacity, reducing reliance on external people longer term. The importance of developing the skills and capacity of your staff to carry on the change programme cannot be underestimated.
Whenever starting a new project, ensure you factor in reflection time for team members. This gives them the chance to learn from the process. If you’re partnering with another organisation, or using consultants, it’s good practice to build an effective skills transfer and exit strategy. Then your people can learn as much as possible from external partners.
We find running learning events to be very effective. These short training courses provide a good combination of theory in the real-life context of your working environment. We run these with clients and pick up areas that require development when working in multi-disciplinary project teams. We run them on a regular basis, opening the invitation to our wider network.
Recent topics have included ‘Applying Change Management Models in Local Government’, ‘Co-design & Co-production techniques’ and ‘The Challenges of Leading Change’. You can find out more about our future events here.
How well do you value your people?
A good manager equips their people with the skills to excel in their job. Allowing them to develop professionally and personally with all the benefits that I have mentioned. At Trueman Change we strive to help organisations harness the power of their people in projects.
Richard Branson once said “train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” I think this sums up the concept of a development culture quite neatly.