The personality of Local Government

Are you a pitbull or a know-it-all?Some time ago we wrote a piece for the Guardian which looked at some of the different types of Councillor personalities we have collectively encountered over the years.  Some are more difficult to deal with than others, some are arguably more effective than others, but all are around in various mixtures and quantities.

At WLLG we always try to offer a balanced opinion on things (even agreeing with E-Pick on the odd occasion), so it’s about time we dealt with another side of the local government coin; the officers.

So here we bring you some of the personality types we know who work with and around us each and every day.  And if there’s one on this list that you can’t place in your own organisation, like a target around a poker table odds are that it’s you.

The Pitbull

Usually found in more senior roles, The Pitbull has a reputation far surpassing most others.  Willing to fight almost any fight, they appear to take pleasure in actively opposing others and revel in conflict situations.  They tend to not beat around the bush, instead going straight for the throat and ripping the life out of whatever project or minion who has had the misfortune of getting in their way.

The Man from Del Monte

This may date me, but as all of a certain age know; the man from Del Monte, he says Yes.  And so does this person, agreeing to take on just about every single project or task asked of them, and many of those given to their colleagues as well.  They are so keen to please and help that they usually end up working long into the night on things which most of us would have given up ages ago, and never seem to have enough time to do what they should be doing.

The trouble is, they never get things finished as they are always agreeing to start new projects.  The odd, firm ‘no’ could do wonders for them!

The Stressed

Whilst the man from Del Monte will always say yes the ‘stressed’ will always treat any request, however small, as if you have asked them to push a boulder up Mount Etna with just a tooth pick. However, when you then offer to take the work away from them they will sigh, grumble and then ‘reluctantly’ take on the piece of work. These people like being stressed, will complain about it but at the end of the day won’t seek to fix it.

The Ego

Many years ago I argued that having an ego isn’t always a bad thing – sometimes you simply are that good – but being egotistical is.  Well, The Ego is just that – they are good and they know it.  They strut around the office, firing off imaginary guns at people and accepting high fives, and are seen as a bright spark.

Strangely, they are also marmite people, in that you either love them or hate them.  They are undeniably effective, but there is just something about them, something difficult to place, a certain (as the French say) “I don’t know what” that makes you want to high five them with one hand and sucker punch them with the other.

The Timesheeter

Timesheets might be a nice way to stifle creativity but they are also a source of comfort for many members of staff. A timesheeter will know, to the exact minute, exactly how many hours they have worked this month. They will know the policy for taking time off in lieu to the letter and then do one of two things. Either they will take back every single minute they work over their prescribed hours or they will tally them up over months and years as some sort of internal validation. Don’t be surprised to hear a timesheeter tell you that s/he has built up 300 hours of TOIL over the past three years and do so with pride.

The Know it all

Statistics maketh the bore.  This person can quote numbers and facts at you for hours.  In a stat-off they won’t let the truth get in the way of some good info, and will throw more pointless information at you than Sky News on a slow day.

They also think they know the reasons all around them act as they do – why certain decisions are made, who is making private deals with others and where the skeletons are buried (in the staff canteen, if you were interested).  Like a school child, all they want to do is show you that they know things, even if the thing they know best is how to make stuff up.

The Jobsworth

The bane of Joe Public, the Jobsworth is that individual who will not do anything that isn’t covered by policy or procedure, even if their actions will exacerbate a situation.  Often armed with a clipboard and high-vis clothing, they patrol their domains looking for infractions and opportunities to quote the correct method of performing a given duty.

The Norm

Finally there is the norm.  This person never aimed to make a career in local government, instead finding themselves in a role and surrounded by other local government types.  They get their head down, work at their projects and try to take their annual leave before they lose it.

You can always spot a Norm by their slightly bemused look in meetings as they listen to a Pitbull ripping into a Know-it-all, or working out whether they like or envy the Ego.  If you do see one, a raised eyebrow or nod of appreciation goes a long way to show solidarity and continue the bond of support enjoyed by all who work in local government.

If we’ve missed any, please do tell us all about them below.  No names though!

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at:

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38 Comments on “The personality of Local Government”

  1. localgov Says:

    The Innovator

    Someone who is never happy with the status quo, no matter how well it is working. They are at their most dangerous when they join a new team or service having not worked in that field before, when they come in with preconceptions and ideas about how to make things better, only to eventually learn that sometimes evolution is better than revolution.

  2. You might add The Meddler – Generally a manager who has little or no concept of what the staff under them actually do. The Meddler has a need to validate their jobs by taking an active role and will endeavour to get involved at any opportunity. Unfortunately this usually takes the form of needless micro-management about the type of font used in a report or the colour of pen used for note taking.

  3. Ed Hammond Says:

    The Cynic

    Greets every idea or initiative, no matter what it is, with world weary resignation. Has worked for the authority since the Bronze Age and considers themselves the organisation’s “memory”.

    Sits in meetings rolling their eyes and interrupting with, “Of course, we’ve tried this before, back in 1987, and it was a complete catastrophe.”

    Worryingly, often turns out to be entirely correct.

  4. […] ever be such a thing as a council officer prodigy. Taking a step back we also had a look at the different personality types that end up working in the council including: The Man from Del […]

  5. […] Here’s one – on a blog that’s generally worth keeping an eye […]

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