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management tips in the public sector please

(6 Posts)
Tortington Sun 02-Oct-11 18:33:58

i have started as a manager in a newly created position. there is a really unusual power dynamic. one member of staff is best friends with my manager. neither are professional about it, it is clear my decisions and actions are discussed. this member of staff was mentioned at my supervision meeting like this " i am happy with how you are fitting in and with your work, and Sandra is happy too" no mention of other staff. i thought it odd.

its a small small organisation, everyone has been here for at least 5 years and is well bedded in. It is like what you would expect a an organisation like this to be...lots of back biting and gossip.

another member of staff went for my role and didn;t get it.

finally i feel like i have to bite my tongue for a year, becuae they really aren't afraid of sacking new people, i've witnessed it.

i have been used to larger formal organisations, i have managed staff before, but just cant seem to find my 'power'

where is my fucking power ?

so i can't actually talk to anyone without making myself unemployed. perhaps i need to circumnavigate this somehow at a strategic level - introducing things .......i dunno? any ideas or suggestions?

i have always known who to suck up to, who pays my wages, but the whole dynamic of my team is off

i have implimented team meetings seperatley from the department it used to be part of - have you any suggestions please?

Tortington Sun 02-Oct-11 18:54:05

unashamed bump, its eally spoiling my days and ive only been thee a few weeks

jkklpu Sun 02-Oct-11 19:06:19

Sorry this is such a tough start. Without a bit more info, eg on the hierarchy lines, how much more junior this Sandra person is to you, how near the top of the org your manager is, it's a bit tricky to know what to say. Is the org too small to have its own HR dept/procedures. While it's still early days, are you able to have a sitdown relating to you own/your team's objectives, esp as we're at mid-term review of public sector business plans time of year? In this context, cd you seek "clarification" of formal and informal oversight channels and of task-based responsibilities. So, for example, if Sandra clearly has only avery limited impact on yr ability to get yr team to deliver, it's good to have this crystal clear early on. Do you have a "counter-signing officer", often yr manager's manager, who's supposed to provide a degree of quality control over managerial performance?

Are you in local govt? central govt dept? NDPB? NHS? Who recruited you? Someone with sense if they were hoping to get someone who wdn't just roll over and stick with status quo. Usually with public sector, if you can present everything in terms of what helps/hinders your and your team's performance, this isa good guide to trying to depersonalise issues you want to raise.

Tortington Sun 02-Oct-11 22:13:37

thank you very interesting. i really need to think about strategic aims, reporting and monitoring and to what end - who sees the information - apart from it being' best practise' bollocks. there hasn't previously been a structure or formal monitoring so its literally a case of a good idea and flying with it. We are required to announce standards of service departmentally and ours are pretty wishy washy tbh.

thanks, i think this has helped me think it through. with structure and direction and reporting will come control and with that ..the power.

yes yes

thank you

and general management tips welcome. i tend to be nice - and find it hard to be firm

jkklpu Mon 03-Oct-11 21:41:33

The aims and reporting/monitoring help you as a manager to keep track of what's going on, including when/how you review progress. But they can also be helpful to show your team where your work fits into the work of the wider/bigger organisation. For example, if you're working in a Council housing office, there are probably local authority commitments to housing people within a certain length of time, to maintaining levels of repairs/building and then there will be councillors/convenors who make political commitments to spending more or less money on improving or changing these objectives. Your team would need to know which bit of the food chain they were working on and why it mattered, which would be to help the COuncil deliver on its commitments. And then if the Housing Minister made a speech at the Tory Party Conference saying they were going to set aside more money for building houses to alleviate pressure in urban councils, then you'd have another way of pointing out to your team how your objectives were relevant to the bigger picture.

Some of the language and admin surrounding business plans and reviews can seem much more trouble than they're worth. However, it can sometimes be a real saviour to have something documented to show to people why their work matters and to help to work out the different responsibilities in your team. If you have some staff stronger/weaker in various areas, they can also help the individuals to define any development needs they might have (not necessarily training courses, but it could be work shadowing someone stronger in a different department, or doing a job swap with a similar team in another Council).

Who sees the information depends very much on which level your team is on. For example, the Director responsible for your area might have 3 depts reporting to him/her and s/he may well have to give quarterly progress reports to the DG/boss of the whole organisation. S/he may have a mini-team which will put these reports together on the basis of your review reports and those of the other 2 depts, not using all the information, but drawing out the main points already completed in the annual business plan and anything they need to keep a particular eye on. This year, my dept's particular focus is on whether there are any specific achievements to trumpet and on whether there are any new/more acute risks to be managed/mitigated in the next 6 months. One of the biggest challenges in management I find is thinking carefully about what it is your seniors require and recognising that they might not always subscribe to the value of what's asked of them, but that they have to satisfy their seniors, too. And again, if you can work out why your team's work matters to the higher-ups, you're at least halfway there. If you can impose some kind of strategic framework on your work area, your management will love you forever because it makes them look good and you'll be guaranteed a performance bonus next Spring. grin

Finally, back on the issue of people in your workplace sharing info inappropriately or not pulling their weight, if you always have the context of what it is you're trying to achieve and everyone's roles and responsibilities, it makes it easier to explain dispassionately why something isn't working out. At the same time, (most of) your team will thank you if they have clear personal objectives that flow from what your team has to achieve for the organisation; and THEY should draw up the first version of their own objectives, not YOU. This will then help you to be firm because you focus on the work being done rather than the people doing it.

Very best of luck.

jkklpu Mon 03-Oct-11 21:42:28

PS Best response to an internal candidate going for a job and not getting it is just to do it a damn sight better than they could have...

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