You are the Director of HR at Barsetshire County Council and after extensive discussions with your Chief Executive, members of the Council’s Cabinet, other interested parties and your hr colleagues, you drafted a statement for the Chief Executive to issue about the proposed People Strategy. As amended slightly by the Chief Executive, this is set out below.
The People Strategy statement
We see the People Strategy as central to the delivery of effective and improving services. We also accept the need for fundamental changes to the way we work and how we work together and with others.
We need to change the organization’s culture, the way we do things round here. This will require not only changing the way we work but also our behaviours and attitudes. We believe we must become an organization that attracts, supports, enables and retAIns people who are talented, risk taking, innovative and creative. To do this we must break away from our fairly traditional people management practices of the past and become a sharper, more flexible and resilient organization.
We know the broad challenges for us over the next five years are going to be:
●Increasing demands on services through growing customer expectations.
●Changing roles of the County Council arising from the Local Government White Paper and subsequent Local Government Act.
●Working more effectively with other public services.
●Delivering services through a range of public and private sector organizations.
●Resources will get tighter and we will have to do more with less.
●Our discussions have established that our organizational culture reflects the following principal features:[…]
●While we have made some progress on working together across directorates and professional areas, we still work predominantly within professional constraints and to defined job descriptions. We often fall back on professional job demarcation and still rely on detailed job descriptions.
●We have competent operational middle managers but many have yet to acquire leadership skills.
●Our people still rely on their managers for training and development opportunities rather than seek them for themseLVes.
●We have a mODern salary progression scheme which allows employees to be rewarded for exceptional performance and which is a step in the right direction, but pay remains our main method of motivating people.
●We remain cautious about tackling under-performance.
●Communication between the Council and its staff is still very traditional with messages and information coming from the top down.
●We believe that these current ways of working do not encourage the behaviours and approaches we need to change the way we work and often form barriers to innovation, creativity and flexibility.
The statement by the Chief Executive has been discussed thoroughly and she has now asked you as Director of HR to draft a position paper which briefly describes the approach you recommend to developing a People Strategy as a basis for further discussion. Prepare this paper.
The statement by the Chief Executive clearly indicates the main issues that need to be addressed. There is plenty of CHOice about what needs to be done and the priorities that should be attached to any proposed actions. These may include organizational development (culture change), and resourcing, learning and development, performance management and reward policies. A business case will have to be prepared showing the potential added value arising from any specific proposals.
The following is a summary of a People Strategy document based upon one actually prepared by the County Council in this case.
Essential elements of the proposed People Strategy
We know that we need to change the culture of the Council to meet the challenges ahead. In consultation with staff and managers, we concluded that our future organizational culture must:
● Make it easier to work with teams and staff who work in other directorates, professional areas and in partner organizations. Working in specialist professional or directorate silos will be a thing of the past. We want to develop flexible and fluid organization structures and more flexible individual roles, making us more responsive to customers and increasing job satisfaction for our staff.
●Incorporate strong leadership skills.
●Be built on a wider definition of personal development which will mean that our people will actively take responsibility for their own learning and development.
●Ensure people feel recognized and rewarded for a good job done.
●Reward the behaviours we want to encourage.
●Not tolerate under-performance.
●Have internal communication arrangements which allow information and views to flow both from managers to their staff but also upwards to managers and policy makers.
In planning terms we need a detailed action plan covering the initial three-year period with a review at the end of that period. Our priorities for year one should be to:
●make sure our recruitment arrangements allow us to bring quality new managers and leaders into the Council and that our development programmes improve the quality of existing managers so they are competent to make these changes happen;
●start to modernize our main employment policies around performance, capability, discipline and absence;
●bring together existing and develop new approaches to rewards and recognition of performance;
●examine and pilot innovative ways we can encourage and help our staff to work more creatively;
●increase the number of people we employ with disabilities;
●start the process of developing a new sort of HR service which will work much more in partnership with managers to ensure that they have the skills and information to manage their staff effectively.