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Better Serving Your Citizens - Capturing Their Hearts

In this 2nd article of our "Better Serving Your Citizens" series, this post highlights the real issues, experiences and changes required to enable Local Authorities to capture the hearts of their staff to empower them to make services better for your citizens.

The publication of SOCITM's recent report Better Served: Customer access, efficiency and channel shift, highlights what needs to be done in the UK Public Sector before the considerable efficiencies available from customer management can be realised.  

Capture their hearts

It is a well known fact that people are motivated by purpose, affiliation and security. You need to build all of these into your change program. Motivations are personal, so you must recruit employees individually by understanding what drives them whilst bringing their resistance to the fore. Ask probing questions to make it easy for them to tell you what is working well, what is going wrong and most importantly, getting them to contribute ideas to make things better. Do not overlook the fact that silence is resistance carried out by other means. Ensure your employees have a "golden mission" by articulating the vision in terms of what's good for the customer and citizen. Finally, be honest with employees about the likely implications of change. For those who will lose their jobs or will need to change jobs and skills, offer them tangible options such as personal development opportunities, training programs, severance packages and retention bonuses.

Free their hands

It is always a good idea to pick some easy/pilot projects to help build momentum for your change programme so people feel the early wins.

Ensure clear performance measurements exist so that progress is transparent to everyone and define rules to ensure that people are operating consistently with your vision for change. At the same time give people plenty of opportunity to apply their creativity and make it easy for them to ask for help so they feel fully supported in a safe environment.

There is nothing more exciting than working for a visionary leader with a passion to succeed. At the same time, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing visionary leaders constrained by their inability to create the future.

During my time at North Cornwall I created and chaired the Cornish Key, a partnership of the 6 district councils and the county council, to pool resources and deliver more collectively than we ever could on our own.  We successfully attracted nearly £3M into the county for ICT and business improvement initiatives.  Time was spent winning hearts and minds to convince people that with a little effort we could achieve great things for our organisations.  The benefits of this work are still being delivered today.

More recently I was the Transformation Lead for the One Cornwall programme which brought together the 7 councils in Cornwall in to the new unitary Cornwall Council.  My role involved working with all tiers of all 7 organisations ensuring that the new ICT infrastructure for Cornwall was operational on go live.  I created and led a team of ICT managers from across 7 organisations ensuring regular engagement and involvement with the staff of all these organisations.  What we achieved was amazing and all the ICT for Cornwall Council worked from launch on 1st April 2009.

Lead them to the promised land

So you know what you need the future to hold, do you now hold the hands of those around you who have the enthusiasm and passion to succeed and lead them to the promised land, or do you hold up the required journey due to uncertainty and fear?

The next episode in our "Better Serving Your Citizens" series sees us explore why an informed Channel Strategy is the key vehicle required at the start of your service improvement and efficiency journey

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