Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

Getting the most out of My Performance Conversations

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

With the arrival of autumn, it’s time to think about our My Performance Conversation (MPC), and the mid-year appraisal.  You might recall my blog a couple of weeks ago about having conversations between leaders and led when things are going well and not so well.  This is just an extension of this, with an opportunity to have a conversation about how it is going.  I would ask you not to get hung up on process, but just to sit down and have an honest and open discussion.

I would offer the following 5 questions as a guide:

How are you?
What’s gone well?
What hasn’t gone so well?
What do you want to do next?
How are we going to get you there?

For many colleagues, the answer to the fourth question will be no change; they don’t want to be promoted, and just want to keep on doing their job well.  I’m very content with that, and I would ask you therefore to make the fifth question: What can we do to make you more effective in that role?  With the Workforce Strategy that we are working up, and the opportunities of apprenticeships in the workplace, there are many ways to develop ourselves and learn.

I take a close interest in who is doing their MPCs and what level they are achieving, because I believe that giving feedback and taking an interest in your people is, in my view, a basic leadership function.  I would suggest that two conversations a year is too few – personally I like to hear feedback as and when it is available – but the rigour of having MPC reminds us in a busy world that we need to do think about our people.

Workforce strategy and the importance of good communications

Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

SLT had an excellent briefing yesterday on the progress towards the Workforce Strategy, led by our interim head of HR Sarah Getley. Many of you will have been involved in the workshops and interviews to seek your views on what we need to do, and I’m very grateful for your input. I’ll try to give you some feedback in this blog entry and more widely in the coming weeks.

In essence, we are a pretty happy ship, to borrow a phrase, but there’s more that we could do to go from “good to great”. Much of that comes down to some measures which are easy to describe, but much harder to implement.

The most striking aspect was the alignment between the views on communications between managers and their teams. Being absolutely honest, all of us in leadership positions could do better. It was surprising how many of our colleagues, particularly in the younger cohort, are frustrated by our not recognising good performance and perceive an apparent unwillingness to manage poor performance. By that, I don’t mean awards ceremonies or resorting to formal processes, but rather congratulating and thanking colleagues in public when things go well, and having honest conversations in private when things aren’t going as they should.  The same is true of our uptake on the My Performance Conversation (MPC), which despite our best efforts, struggles to get much above 50% uptake. As we implement the Workforce Strategy, we’ll be looking for simplified systems that encourage meaningful communications – after all, the other finding is that you prefer to hear news from your line manager more than by any other means.  Let’s make that happen.

It didn’t come as a surprise that you feel that we spend too much time in meetings, and I have written before in this blog about that very issue. Apparently a snapshot of SLT/WLT/OMT diaries suggest that we spend up to 85% of our working day in meetings.  Let’s have another go at this, but my old measure remains true – if you’re checking your emails while in a meeting, you shouldn’t be there, as clearly there’s something more useful that you could be doing.

Lastly for this blog entry, Smart Working is hugely popular, but there’s clearly more to be done, and it’s more in building trust between leaders and led than in technology or infrastructure. I’ll be giving this more thought in the coming weeks and months, as I will the wider aspects of implementing the Workforce Strategy.

The Gender Pay Gap, Equality and Diversity, and Learning at Work Week

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018


I was thinking about our Gender Pay Analysis and what we should do about addressing it, and would appreciate some feedback from readers.  We have come out with a pay gap of 12%, which means that the average man in SCC gets paid 12% more per hour than the average woman – this is under the national average for public sector organisations, but it’s no reason to be complacent.  Looking into this in some detail, it comes down to our having more men in senior positions than women, and thankfully not that women and men are not paid the same amount for doing the same jobs.  As an essentially practical person, I’m keen to implement measures that ensure that we reflect our diversity at all levels.  As I think I’ve written here before, diverse organisations aren’t just the right thing to do; they also work more effectively.

Talking to colleagues, I’ve come to the conclusion that we could benefit from more of us taking some Equality and Diversity (E&D) training, more to improve our level of understanding and knowledge than to address any specific issue in the workforce.  For example, UK employment law allows an employer to offer a job to a person from a protected category – gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, marriage, transsexual, pregnancy and religion – if there are 2 candidates of equal merit, and the organisation is under-represented in that category.  If you have any questions about this, contact HR advice and guidance who will be able to tell you more.

I learned that on the Armed Forces excellent E&D training package that all senior officers have to complete every 3 years, and it’s a useful practical method of tackling imbalance in a workforce.  That fact is also contained in the GO platform’s equally good Equality in the Workplace package.  I was a little disappointed to hear that only 10% of us have taken the package, and I would ask that you make a few minutes available to have a look and learn some useful knowledge.  You won’t regret it, and the very fact that you are thinking about it will help to tackle any unconscious bias.

As a footnote, Learning at Work Week next week is getting a lot of attention, for which I’m very grateful.  Many of the sessions are booked-out, but there are still some vacancies in others.  Have a look at what’s available and I would ask that you do at least one session.  If your preferred session in booked up, such as SUMO and mindfulness, get in touch with the OD staff and ask when they will be doing follow-up sessions.

Learning at Work Week; Stafford Office Moves

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

Last week was Learning at Work Week, and it was a real pleasure to join a group of colleagues undertaking a 2 hour session on project and change management.  It was led by Helen Leake of the Transformation Support Unit (TSU), and I thought that it was excellent.  I know that many of you attended the other events organised during the week, and I hope that you got as much out of them as I did.  Of course, a true learning organisation does not limit its activities to the one week of the year when there’s a focus on the subject, and I hope that some of you will have got a taster for doing some more study.

I want to thank everyone who has been involved in the Stafford office moves, whether that’s the planning or actually moving.  It has been one of the smoothest, if not the smoothest, move that I have ever experienced.  I only heard of one small wrinkle, and that was solved inside an hour.  Because the moves have been so successful, we’ve closed the Stafford Moves Steering Group a little earlier than anticipated—in essence, there’s nothing left to discuss and plan.

On that note, if you’re a participant in a meeting that achieves little or nothing, please do have the courage to suggest that you cancel or change the meeting’s duration or its frequency.

Lastly, there appears to be a gathering head of steam on digital across the organisation, if that’s not too mixed a metaphor.  I’m delighted that people, at all levels and in all areas, are challenging how we do our business, and suggesting better ways of working.  Please do keep making the suggestions – in my experience, the best ideas come from those who have the fingertip feel for the services that can be improved.



An excellent session during Learning at Work Week