Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Maybe We Can Make This Work

Our Safer, Stronger Communities Fund has had a bad rep at work. People, including me, have questioned why our Authority would "give away" £2m to other organisations at a time when we're making frontline cuts and letting support staff go.

I've got a new perspective on this after listening to a seminar given by Bruce Katz in Sheffield last week. Katz is a former advisor to President Obama who is an expert on urban development.

The most interesting part of his presentation for me was learning that the spending culture of US public organisations is to fund academic research and private companies. The Americans believe that produces better value and more innovative and creative outcomes than public bodies spending the money directly.

It's worth thinking about as we prepare to embark on round two of our fund. I'm sure we can all think of small projects that make a big difference if only they had a bit of funding.

Instead of complaining maybe, as staff, we should focus on working with partners to help them develop really excellent bids to fund great projects that just need a kick start.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

A New Beginning

Ok, so I've been meaning to blog more regularly for forever. Today we had a managers' meeting to go through our recent staff survey results. Two of the key issues are senior manager communications and employee involvement, so now seems like as good a time as any to make a start. I'd be pleased to get your feedback on what I write, whether you work in my function, elsewhere in South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, or for another organisation.

Our staff survey results weren't great, but probably in line with my expectations. The important and positive thing is that they're slightly better than last time and, we discovered today, comparable with the other fire services which use the same survey.

The key take-out from today, for me, was that as a management team we are absolutely committed to accepting the results and determined to improve for the next survey. I'll admit that going into the meeting I wasn't entirely sure that would be the outcome.

So now the hard work starts again. Today we talked a lot about the fact that only 18% of our staff believe things will change as a result of the survey (the same as last time). We are all determined to change that next time. So here's a little blog which is my first step towards achieving that. It's only a small step but it's a start.

Finally for today I'd like to send my congratulations to Jill in my team and her husband Lee, who are expecting twins. It's only a few days since my colleague Alex became a dad for the first time. And my other colleagues Nicola and Michelle are off on maternity leave. It all seems apt considering this blog has been about fresh starts.