The Guardian HR summit was a breath of fresh air. Public services get a lot of stick in the press, especially the management who most media outlets seem to regard as slobby, slothsome fat cats eating up valuable tax payer’s money while public facing, poorly paid binmen and dinner ladies toil with no thanks and little reward.

Whether you subscribe to this view or not, it was refreshing to see such a wealth of forward thinking, engaged individuals who work in the public sector, some very high up, who are completely committed to providing excellent services to the public at very good value for money. They are under no illusions as to their image and the issues thye face, without their organisations and in society but they also have an optimism and desire to make positive change in their communities.

Fiona Narbugh’s presentation was a case in point. She described how her employees mostly live in the communities they serve. As a team they muck in with residents – they are residents. She’s not kidding herself over how deep cuts must be made – and they already have been made – but incredibly she’s managed to work the change to their advantage and they have seen impressive results on their satisfaction and engagement surveys.

The council has actually managed to see past short-term thinking in it’s funding, investing more heaving in training this year than in any other to ensure that despite fewer staff the council does not lose skills and indeed, up skill for the future of the organisation.

She advocates an open, flat style of management: consultation and asking employees to help in decision making and cannot recommend staff sounding boards highly enough. The only caveat is that the people on them must be ‘real people’ – management are banned from the SSBs.
Three takeaways you can act on today: