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Top tips from the Guardian HR Summit

21st Jan 2011
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The Guardian HR summit was a breath of fresh air. Public services get a lot of stick in the press, especially the management who most media outlets seem to regard as slobby, slothsome fat cats eating up valuable tax payer’s money while public facing, poorly paid binmen and dinner ladies toil with no thanks and little reward.

Whether you subscribe to this view or not, it was refreshing to see such a wealth of forward thinking, engaged individuals who work in the public sector, some very high up, who are completely committed to providing excellent services to the public at very good value for money. They are under no illusions as to their image and the issues thye face, without their organisations and in society but they also have an optimism and desire to make positive change in their communities.

Fiona Narbugh’s presentation was a case in point. She described how her employees mostly live in the communities they serve. As a team they muck in with residents - they are residents. She’s not kidding herself over how deep cuts must be made - and they already have been made - but incredibly she’s managed to work the change to their advantage and they have seen impressive results on their satisfaction and engagement surveys.

The council has actually managed to see past short-term thinking in it’s funding, investing more heaving in training this year than in any other to ensure that despite fewer staff the council does not lose skills and indeed, up skill for the future of the organisation.

She advocates an open, flat style of management: consultation and asking employees to help in decision making and cannot recommend staff sounding boards highly enough. The only caveat is that the people on them must be ‘real people’ - management are banned from the SSBs.
Three takeaways you can act on today:

  • Ask your employees 'how can we do this?' - they'll have answers even if you don't. Tell staff what is happening with their ideas - thye suggest a colour-coded system for easy communication.
  • Set up a talent pool if you don't have one already
  • At the beginning of the day get everyone together for a 10 minute stand-up session and hear what everyone is planning on working on that day.

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By Fiona Narburgh
24th Jan 2011 16:04

Really enjoyed the Summit, it was a priviledge to be able to share the experiences of my Council Wychavon, glad you took away some useful tips too!  I can send you a link to the podcast from my website if helpful.

Fiona Narburgh, Wychavon District Council

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By Charlie Duff
24th Jan 2011 16:14

Please feel free to do that Fiona - either post it here or send it to me using the message fucntion and I will feature it on site.


Best wishes


Charlie Duff


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By FionaNarburgh
10th Feb 2011 23:44

 Sorry for delay check my website at for my presentation and podcast of what was a fun and frank debate, despite the tough climate of these times


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