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In order to reflect the progressive role of local government in the 21st century, the culture within councils is set to change. To ensure success, elected members need to lead this culture change within their organisations. This video podcast outlines the work of the LGA HR Panel and explains how elected members can drive this change forward.
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Sir Steve Bullock, Chair, LGA HR Panel
(Time: 00.09 – 00.43)
I’m Steve Bullock, I’m the chair of the LGA’s HR Panel and we’re talking about cultural change today. You might wonder why we’re talking about cultural change. The reason is that local authorities are big, bureaucratic organisations, we know they have to change, I’ve been involved in local government for more years than I care to remember and I’ve seen change happen, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and the times when it doesn’t, are when you don’t change the culture of the organisation.
Councillor Steve Comer, Deputy Chair, LGA HR Panel
(Time: 00.52 – 01.17)
If no action is taken to help develop the culture, then any organisation like local government, will just revert to it’s tried and tested type. It’s silo mentality, it’s very cautious approach. So that’s why cultural change is important, if we’re really going to make a real shift in what local government’s doing, then cultural change is essential to deliver that. It may take time to actually get there, but it’s worth it in the end.
Jan Parkinson, Managing Director, Local Government Employers
(Time: 01.27 – 01.55)
Pay and reward can be a real driver for culture change. I think the problem is, that in local government in recent years, we’ve not done that. It’s not been the right time to do it, we’ve been embroiled in equal pay issues and they’ve had to be dealt with first. In the future as all of these issues start to resolve, I would hope that more councils start to think about how they can use pay and reward to achieve the culture change that they need.
Councillor Roger Phillips, Vice Chair, LGA HR Panel
(Time: 02.00 – 02.41)
I think it’s very important that members understand what culture is about. They know that it’s about a change in the way that we live our lifestyles these days. It’s also a change in new technology, but above all, it’s about financial importance as well and the financial drivers. So they’ve got to understand what that change is about and they’ve got to own it and they must also stick with it when the going gets tough as well.
I think heads of service, change managers, officers and members have got to work together on this change project, because it’s not just about having a seminar and then going away. It’s about constantly working together and coming together on a regular basis, to ensure that knowledge of that change programme is absolutely embedded in the organisation and in themselves.
Councillor Apu Bagchi, Deputy Chair, LGA HR Panel
(Time: 02.47 – 03.20)
Talking about the culture change within the organisation is quite an interesting one, because my authority which is Bedford Borough Council, have just become a Unitary Council and we had to go through this cultural change. It has been fantastic in that sense that the Borough Council had to change their whole structure in terms of becoming a Unitary Authority and I can only say that the leadership and the elected members, we all worked together. And that’s the way we’ve been able to achieve it.
Jan Parkinson, Managing Director, Local Government Employers
(Time: 03.21 – 03.48)
Councils have found it difficult to use pay and reward as a means of achieving culture change as I’ve already said, because of this issue around equal pay, so that has been quite difficult for them. But I think secondly and probably more importantly, when you start to deal with the issues of pay, you actually strike at the heart of the employment contract and that raises all sorts of sensitive and difficult issues for individuals and for valued employees.
Steve Bullock, Chair, LGA HR Panel
(Time: 03.49 – 04.31)
One of the things that we can do here at the centre is get the knowledge, get the information, about what works and what doesn’t and share that with individual local authorities. If every council starts from scratch and tries to do the whole thing themselves, they may well be successful, but it’s an incredible waste of resources, when there are great ideas out there. That’s what the LGA group are doing, it’s making sure we capture that information and we share it, for example if you go to the IDeA website, whether you’re a member or an officer, you’ll find lots of information, lots of ideas, which will help you to do the job in your own authority.
Joan Munro, National Advisor, Workforce Strategy, IDeA
(Time: 04.36 – 04.58)
We need to really think about how we make cultural change, faster and more effective in local government. How we take people along with us in trying to achieve what we’re trying to achieve. There’s lots of case studies going on our websites and there’s event’s happening, so we hope people will come and join us and add to the debate about this important issue.
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Also on LGE
Focus - issue 01/09, April 2009 Many local authorities are restructuring services in response to tighter resources coupled with increased customer expectations. But service transformation only fully works if people change their behaviour, which is where culture change comes in.
Cultural change - IDeA resource Cultural change is a vital, but often overlooked, aspect of sustainable service transformation. This resource from the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) is aimed at chief executives, senior managers, transformation leads, organisational development specialists and others who are managing or supporting major change programmes.