Training Council staff to compete for success

According to Bob Seiffert CEO at Manningham City Council in Victoria, with the right training schemes in place Compulsory Competitive Tendering (CCT) should not be a problem for any Council team. Following the CCT legislation, staff at Manningham were provided with information and an ongoing training program.

This not only assisted them to learn new skills but helped develop a new culture in the workplace, based on providing an efficient service, taking responsibility for the outcomes of their own workplace practices and striving to set new benchmark standards.

Staff were trained in the following 10 key areas.

  • Identifying quantity and quality
  • Developing unit costs and benchmarking
  • Developing specifications
  • Managing contracts
  • Preparing tenders
  • Writing business plans
  • Leadership
  • Quality customer service
  • Marketing
  • Running a small business.

To begin with, a survey was carried out to establish what ratepayers expected and wanted from their Council. The resounding vote was for quality customer service. Consultants were hired to assist with the preparation of tenders, business plans and helped staff develop a culture of self management and responsibility.

A regular staff newsletter, and formulation a 'Question and Answer' booklet staff could refer to, were also produced. A specialist marketing unit was established to assist other units to market themselves and provide suitable training.

Ongoing training is provided in the form of regular weekly reviews of processes. A budget allowance for external study included an overseas and interstate study program, and regular luncheon seminars, where successful entrepreneurs, including some of Council's competitors, discuss how to effectively compete in the business world.

"Staff, management and ratepayers now engage in a dialogue which assists in developing a constantly improving and flexible organisation," Bob Seiffert said. Since 1994, when Compulsory Competitive Tendering was put in place, Manningham's services have been organised into 19 business units.

Seventeen of those units have won their contracts in open competition thanks to this comprehensive system of training which has given employees the skills they need to operate in a competitive world. The remaining two units are expected to achieve the same success in the near future.

Regular surveys measuring customer satisfaction have shown a steady increase in levels of satisfaction and provide staff with ongoing benchmarks.

For further information, contact Bob Seiffert, telephone (03) 9840 9333.