Posted tagged ‘fail’

Listen to what’s inside

September 13, 2011

Can local officers help with translation?

Last week we took a look at how Council’s respond (or not) to social media.  Our argument was that generally we don’t, and the comments received pretty much back that up.  This got us thinking about other simple ways in which local authorities could make better use of their organisational ears in order to take the local pulse.

Usually when officers want to find out what local people are saying they will run some form of engagement or consultation exercise.  The quality and usefulness of these activities is a topic for another day, but in essence they involve officers going out into the community in some way to find groups of residents and other stakeholders to ask them what they think about something.  This often takes some time to do and can cost a significant amount to organise, although arguably this money is very well spent and can save that same authority ten times as much by ensuring the services delivered better meet local needs.

However, this still involves reaching out to local people and hoping or expecting them to get in touch; how about turning this around and reaching inwards for a change?

Those readers who currently work in local government (and at a guess, most of our readers do) will be able to conduct their own quick field test by looking around their office and seeing just how many of their colleagues live outside of the borough in which they work.  A solid mixture is normal, but generally speaking a decent percentage of any workforce lives locally.  In fact, in many places schemes are set up to promote precisely this, with positive discrimination offering opportunities for positions and additional training for locals.  If schools are included in the mix, it would not be unusual to see anything up to 40% of council employees having less than a thirty minute commute, which adds up to a significant number of opinions to gather. (more…)

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Our colleagues ain’t so bad

June 21, 2011

Voodoo pins can break my bones but names will never hurt me...

Local Authorities are basically conglomerates of all sorts of different services staffed by all sorts of different types of people. Whilst it is often the case that staff, whether working for a company or a public sector organisation, will defend their organisation regardless of what is going on, it is not always the case in Local Government.

So why this tendency to, as the Americans would put it, ‘rip into our colleagues.’

I’ve heard two or three examples of this over the past few weeks which can point the way a little:

1)    The ‘I could have done it better’

Local Authorities are having to make some tough choices at the moment and our local newspapers are keen to shine a light on some of the cuts and fee increases that are happening. Just this week, a series of parking increases were getting our residents, and thus the local papers, exorcised. No matter where you went in the council people were sharing their wisdom over exactly how the situation should have been handled; be it by phasing the charges, communicating better or maybe being a little bit smarter about the across the board policy. If you talk to the parking managers they will roll their eyes, point out that they considered all of this but quite simply in order to make the income target this was the ‘least worst’ option. And I believe them.

2)    The ‘Oh, for *7%^s sake; you’re really just not helping’

(more…)