Internal promotions aplenty

At Shire of Murray Council in Western Australia, a focus on internal career development and professional development is contributing to a vital and creative workplace.

A key to the culture of commitment and ambition at Murray was the appointment of Chief Executive Officer Dean Unsworth in 2007. Under Mr Unsworth’s leadership, staff are encouraged to feel empowered and confident in their decision-making, along with having opportunities for creativity in the workplace.

“Whilst the Chief Executive Officer’s job is about overseeing the running of a local government, it is imperative to believe in the staff you have employed, and to trust that they are experts in their field, for an organisation to progress with innovation,” said Mr Unsworth.

This focus on career development has meant that three of Murray’s four current directors were previously employed as managers with the Shire. The most recent example is the Shire’s Director Corporate and Organisational Development, Julie Brown, who commenced with Council in 2007 as Manager of Finance, and who has undertaken managerial roles in asset and risk management prior to her recent appointment.

“Our Director Technical Services Alan Smith also progressed from a manager in our Technical Services Department, spending ten years with the organisation before we appointed him as a director. And our Director Recreation and Community Development Gillian Houston commenced as a manager and was appointed as a director last year.

“Whilst I certainly put my staff through their paces during the recruitment process so the Shire employs the best possible candidate, there is significant power in corporate knowledge, and in the existing relationships internal staff form with their colleagues, which adds value to a director’s role,” Mr Unsworth said.

There is no doubt that every time an employee leaves an organisation, it costs the employer significantly as a result of vacancy times and the cost of recruitment, and in productivity during training of the new employee. As such, the Shire of Murray ensures that it retains staff by providing opportunities for professional development and career advancement.

Mr Unsworth comments, “I returned to study later in life, and so I encourage professional development and lifelong learning for my staff. Murray is a growing Council, and whilst we are still considered a local government of a small community, ambition and creativity is alive and well within our corridors.”