Posts Tagged ‘IT’

Lifting Lockdown, Microsoft Teams, and Online Coaching

Monday, May 18th, 2020

I mentioned in my last entry that we had reached the peak of the outbreak, and were going to be running response and recovery concurrently for probably several months, which is an unusual approach in normal circumstances.  But as you will undoubtedly agree, we are not in normal circumstances, and we have to adapt to the situation around us.  I’ve been immensely impressed with the way that colleagues have stepped into the breach; my abiding memory from this episode will be the fortitude and energy that you have put into their roles, and the willingness that you have shown in adapting to new roles and realities.     

As we plan towards lifting lockdown, last week we sent initial guidance to WLT/OMT and to the wider workforce via The Knot, which is well worth a read.  The key thing is that we are not in a hurry to rush back to our offices; we’ve made our own luck, as an old friend and colleague used to put it, with our efforts in Smart Working, and we can afford to get it right.  You should continue with your current working arrangements until your manager gives you the information that you need; those of you who are working from home should keep doing so.

I take my hat off to the ICT team for their exceptional efforts in maintaining and protecting our network.  With my military background, you won’t be surprised of the importance that I attach to being able to communicate effectively as a means of effective leadership.  The impressive part is that Vic Falcus and his team have not only maintained and protected, but also improved, which is always a risk when engaged in a high intensity operation such as in which we are engaged.  We’ve implemented split tunnelling, which most will have missed, but you won’t have missed the effect that video conferencing got a lot clearer a few weeks ago.  You will however, notice the next change, as we try to move everybody out of Skype and into Teams.  This week, we’ll be starting to encourage colleagues to stop using Skype for Business and start using Microsoft Teams to stay connected. Teams is a much better tool in my opinion and is really easy to use. More info here if you are interested in this.

Lastly for this entry, we’re offering some online Coronavirus Coaching to colleagues to overcome challenges and be the best they can be – we’ve got a pool of internal coaches who are there to support. Coaching is a big part of us being ambitious, courageous and empowered in the workplace. A number of them have agreed to keep coaching remotely, as we continue to work through the coronavirus response and recovery. There are some brief details here, and we’ll be promoting the offer in the various internal updates this week.

Stay safe and well.

The importance of cyber security

Monday, January 8th, 2018

In the coming weeks, all staff will be required to do some mandatory cyber security training. The importance of this was brought into sharp relief this week, when I was very nearly the victim of a cyber-attack.  It’s apparently called a “whaling attack” which is not a great description so soon after Christmas when I’m trying to lose the effects of the big meals over the festive season. Apparently it’s to do with tricking the “big fish” in an organisation to do something.  In essence, somebody managed to emulate my email without hacking the account and asked Andy Burns, our Finance Director, to pay an invoice immediately.

Thankfully Andy had the presence of mind to ask me a couple of questions face to face, and I was able to confirm that I had not sent the original message.  That said, the message was quite convincing, even using my turn of phrase, and it took some time to discern that it had come from an AOL account, and not my work account as the header suggested.   It’s a reminder to me that we all need to be very careful, and I will be making a point of paying particular attention to the Cyber Security Training.

Many of us have been getting to grips with the new MyHR and MyFinance systems over the past few weeks.  In the main, by which I mean 99% plus, it is going well, but there have been niggles which will need us all to put a bit of effort into solving.  The most obvious one has been the need to initiate purchase orders in MyFinance before making a purchase.  It’s pretty straight-forward, but it is a change of process as well as a change of system, which has caught some people out.  The Finance team is working with the business to resolve the outstanding invoices, but all of us in the management structures need to do our bit – I’m particularly grateful to the Change Champions for dealing with the problems so effectively and with such good humour.

The good news is that the system is intelligent, and once it has learned something, it will be there the next time that you have to do something.  One of the other benefits of bringing managers into the approval of invoices is that it has made us all realise where we can do things better and save money.  For example, as a result of realising how we order stationery, we are re-negotiating our contract with our major supplier to ensure that we don’t have individual invoices and delivery charges for each order.

Summer breaks, My HR and the return of IRONMAN 70.3

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

I hope that you have all had a relaxing break over the summer and had the opportunity to spend some well-earned time with family and friends.  In the Henderson household, it continues to be a busy year as we get to the end of our self-build project.  It has meant that every spare moment has been booked with building and construction tasks, as well as supporting my wife, Shona, who has been acting as project manager.  It’s been a long haul, but it’s been worth it.

Back at SCC, this week sees another step on our way to being a smart working organisation with the launch of My HR.  This is rather more than a new software package, as it puts you in control of your own HR and finance.  You will be able to update your details, submit expenses claims, manage your leave and view your payslips from anywhere on your own smartphone.  We’ve taken great care of the introduction, and I’m hugely grateful to the Change Champions who have given so much of your time to ensure that everybody has had the appropriate training.  I know that it has taken you away from your normal duties, and that you have had to demonstrate great adaptability and resourcefulness, but, if and when this introduction is a success, the credit belongs in no small part to you.

Lastly for today, many of you will have read about the Ironman competition continuing in the county next year, and potentially beyond, but moving its finish from Shugborough to Stafford town centre.  This is excellent news, and a real result for our Sportshire Coordinator Jude Taylor who has carefully led the negotiations with a large number of stakeholders.  With the finish in our thriving county town, local people and businesses have an even greater opportunity to view and benefit from this amazing spectacle.

NHS IT Ransomware; The Trusted Executive

Monday, May 15th, 2017

The ransomware attack on NHS IT systems dominated media coverage over the weekend and really brought home the importance of cyber security for an organisation like ours. Technology has transformed the way we provide support to Staffordshire people in recent years. Protecting that technology and the systems we use is everyone’s responsibility at the county council and there are simple things we must all do when using county council IT. Look at for more information in an email to all staff today.

You might remember my mentioning John Blakey of the Aston Business School and his work entitled “The Trusted Executive”.  He has undertaken a survey with us and I recently had a briefing on the results.  John’s thesis is that trust in our society is reducing at an alarming rate – he believes, and I tend to agree, that the pendulum has swung away from our being a deferential society, and that, along with the good things that come with that, something has been lost.  John comes from a private sector background, and we are the first public sector organisation he has surveyed.  It does mean that although the results are illuminating, we don’t really have anybody else to compare ourselves with just yet.

John’s model of leadership works on three pillars – ability, integrity and benevolence.  For anybody who has read Stephen Covey’s books, such as “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Principle Centred Leadership”, he’s coming from a similar direction, striking a balance between traditional leadership qualities such as delivering, coaching and consistency, softer skills in the integrity area such as honesty, openness and humility, and kindness, moral courage and evangelising in the benevolence area.  John surveyed over 300 county council staff, and found that both the senior and wider leadership teams, and me, were strong on ability but weaker on benevolence.

The good news is that you think that leaders are honest and we deliver. On the weaker side, we rated less well on showing our vulnerability, which is not a great surprise, as it is not a quality that one would traditionally associate with leaders – it’s certainly not one that I would have named previously.  I would appreciate some feedback on whether this is something that readers in the organisation would like to see.  Equally, I’d value any thoughts from those that took part, or others, on what you would like us generally, and me in particular, to do more of, less of, or differently.  I found John’s feedback very useful and will be using it as one of the guides as I enter my third year in post.

Yours,

John Henderson

Chief Executive