Greater commitment better service

Local authorities serve residents and ratepayers best when staff are fully involved and satisfied with their work. Recognising this, the Town of Albany in Western Australia has developed a Conceptual Management Program. This Program aims to improve the 'people skills' of staff and reduce the hierarchical nature of management. By increasing input from everyone in the organisation, this leads to better communication and greater efficiency throughout the workplace.

Under the Plan, believed to be a first in Local Government in Western Australia, staff have undertaken a training exercise enabling them to recognise different behavioural traits of individuals. Through categorising people into behavioural grids, staff soon recognise people are all different and that it is the combination of these differences that makes teams strong.

By providing a better understanding of the perspective of others, this process has improved interrelationships in the workplace. Staff also receive training for what is known as a 'Sales Tracking". This is a process for selling a new idea to others in the work team, supervisors and the public. Rather than move straight to the methodology stage, a number of steps must be taken to ensure others are committed to the idea and support it.

"We view this process as similar to driving through a set of lights," said Murray Jorgensen, Albany's Chief Executive Officer. "You do not move to the next step until you have a green light from the one before. This avoids good ideas becoming bogged down through lack of commitment."

Sales Tracking includes the following steps.

  • Breaking down any preoccupations that exist.
  • Establishing mutual objectives.
  • Determining the needs of all parties affected.
  • Developing a methodology or action plan
  • Getting commitment to the action plan.

Sales Tracking helps to break down existing communication barriers. By establishing mutual aims it ensures commitment and cooperation. Albany has also introduced monthly and quarterly performance planning for each work team. This encourages discussion and mapping of individual's daily and monthly activities, including any new ideas for improvement. It also facilitates self management and self monitoring of performances.

Staff received formal training for all aspects of the new Program and have undertaken refresher courses to maintain the momentum for openness and improvement. A fortnightly staff newsletter, recognition of achievements, encouragement to voice complaints and achievements and the development of a service Motto and Pledge all supplement the Program. The Program has been highly successful, marrying the needs of individuals with those of the work teams to promote effective service delivery and continuing improvement.

"The Program can benefit other organisations," Murray Jorgensen continued. "It is easily adaptable to any workplace wishing to improve productivity and increase job satisfaction."

For further information contact Murray Jorgensen, Chief Executive Officer, telephone (098) 412 333.