Support for CEOs

The need for training to enable employees to broaden their skills, maintain up to date knowledge and function efficiently is not confined to the youngest or lower levels of an organisation. All staff, through to the CEO, need to review their own performance and learn new aspects of their role.

Recognising this, in 1993 the Department of Local Government in Western Australia, together with the Institute of Municipal Management set up the Local Government CEO Support Program. The program covers various issues which CEOs may have to handle.

These can range from how best to deal with aggressive elected members and staff performance issues, to reorganising schedules to fit in with harvesting or cattle sales. This voluntary program is designed to take place nine to twelve months into a CEO's appointment. By this time the CEO will have encountered many of the problems he or she is likely to face.

The program takes place over two days in the workplace. It covers the key areas of professional development, Council operations, and relationships between the CEO with staff and Council. Chaired by a Department Officer, the IMM representative offers advice and support for the CEO.

Later all parties meet with specific elected members in a round table, to discuss issues raised and put in place resolutions acceptable to all. The program has received positive responses from both participants and others who have gained a better perspective of the CEO's function in Council.

"It was encouraging to have feedback on how our new CEO was performing, pinpointing the areas where we, as Council, could assist him," said Cr Ian Bolto, Shire President, Shire of Katanning. "The fact that the program was held in Katanning, enabled all the necessary people to have input, ensured all areas of relevance to our Shire were covered."

Mrs Steve Smith, former CEO of the Town of Bassendean said, "My IMM mentor responded with interest and intelligence to my questions without adopting a 'holier than thou' attitude to me which I must say, with his depth of experience, he would have been quite entitled to!"

Allan Middleton, IMM representative and CEO at the Shire of Northam, said that the program not only benefits participating CEOs but the mentors as well. He added he would recommend it to any State.

For further information contact Adrienne Inch, telephone (08) 9222 0555.