Posted tagged ‘hierarchy’

Senior Management Teams: Strategic focus or organisational admin?

August 30, 2011

Making the big decisions or checking the latest performance report?

All councils have management team meetings; indeed, my guess is that all large organisations have management team meetings of some sorts.

At their best these management teams provide the strategic direction for the council; dealing with large issues and ensuring that there is a consistent vision across the organisation. In addition, the team meetings are important opportunities to share information across the council, to ensure that important messages are cascaded down to the rest of the staff, and hopefully to also challenge each other over how the organisation should be structured.

I’ve been to a wide range of these management team meetings as a guest over the past few years and therefore always take a big interest in the agenda of these meetings. The thing that struck me most was the proliferation of basic admin tasks that were covered by these supposedly strategic meetings.

I think this stems from a misunderstanding of what the management team is there for. Instead of being strategic many management teams seem to think that their job is simply to ‘see’ everything that is going on within the council.

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When flexibility is not a good thing

May 4, 2011

Can you be too flexible?

Thomas Jefferson once said “In matters of principle, stand firm; in matters of style and taste, swim with the current.”  This is something I’ve recently begun to grapple with and something which I’ve noted many others around me also working on in recent weeks.  This is especially true as the financial pressures mount, and older, more experienced staff leave to be replaced by young, less experienced but sharp and keen staff who’s careers are more before than behind them.

Regular readers of this blog will know that some of our writing team (or ‘crew’ as we have also recently been described) have begun to explore this wild waters of middle management.  Stepping up into such a world puts you in strange places.  No longer are you a minion, making the thoughts and ideas of your managers a reality no matter how random, neither are you in a position whereby your whims are other’s commands.

The beauty of local government of course is that being in this position has little if anything to do with how much you earn.  We all know examples of those paid exorbitant stipends with little authority or work scope, whilst others on a pittance seem to be the spider at the heart of the web, with influence far outweighing their hierarchical position and the ability to really shape their part of local government. (more…)