Last week I wrote that the "Grande Dame" (Lesley Strathie) had apparently talked up the recently published Civil Service People Survey 2010 (in which HMRC came 103rd out of 103).
My thanks to a loyal reader who has taken the time and trouble to make a transcript of the "Grande Dame's" pep talk. I understand that this has been typed from the script as it appears in the HMRC intranet, therefore there may be a few small errors and omissions. However, I am sure that you will all get the underlying message!
"Message from Leslie Straithie Improving Our People Survey Results
There's no question we have to improve our People Survey results.
Overall engagement was the lowest of the 103 organisations surveyed and all on the senior team take responsibility.
Tempting to think nothing can be done short term. People point to pay freezes and staff cuts insist we can't turn things around while this is happening.
Yet our highest performing teams show it can be done, Benefits & Credits we have front line operational teams whose scores have jumped over 20%.
These are fantastic results we can learn from them.
In the summer I set out what we were doing to start turning things round. Every HMRC leader now has to publish the 3 leadership behaviours they want to improve personally.
Frontline people have taken part in focus groups to examine what you expect from us as an employer (and what we can expect from you in return), we are currently looking at the HR policies and procedures we need to change.
Where our people survey have improved - and we've seen good results in parts of Information Management Services there are 4 common themes:
Pacesetter - People don't want to hear about changes they want to be part of the solution. Fundamentally it is about solving problems the 3 C's process is about making sure issues can be raised escalated and dealt with not simply ignored.
In 2009/2010 B&C adopted 75 staff ideas under Pacesetter Change Control Process this year they have taken up over 230. What's more leadership visibility scores in Pacesetter areas are an average 10 higher.
Communication - essential- especially where it involves line management. High performing teams use face to face briefings whenever possible and don't rely on intranet, newsletters or emails (Editor's note: Does that ,mean that HMRC - which does rely on emails and intranet - is not high performing?)
We have seen this in IMS with their fortnightly briefings and seen how these teams score higher where managers explain how their work fits into HMRC's overall strategy.
Good Line Managers - The manager is crucial especially when it comes to day to day issues that really affect morale and performance.
Not all of these issues will be within their gift but we have seen excellent results where they have listened (Editor's note: this implies that some line managers do not listen), fed back concerns and taken action.
CaM and B&C Ops have developed something called The Link Model to help managers do this. Last year just 20% of B&C believed action would be taken as a result of the survey, this year it was 42%.
Excellent managers tackle things that damage morale like poor performance, and take early and decisive action on sickness absence.
High scoring teams reward good work either through the Simply Thanks scheme, similar local initiative or celebrate it at special events.
Strong Leadership - Visible credible leadership is characteristic of high performing teams and a key part of our leadership behaviours. The most successful managers even have staff engagement built into their PDE's.
We expect them to talk openly and honestly about what's taking place in HMRC (key part of Change Programme) This is something we will measure them against.
Finally you said you wanted to see action so every month Pulse magazine will include a new Listening, Acting, Improving section setting out the changes large and small we make that month.
I firmly believe we can build a Department we can all be proud of. Its a big challenge and I want to thank the high performing teams who prove it can be done."
Well, from my perspective as an outsider, there is a lot of management consultant jargon in this "Hail Mary" plea for faith in the future. However, I would like to ask those who actually work in HMRC:
1 Do you believe that she is sincere in the above, in that she really believes that things can/will improve?
2 Are the tactics she refers to above really being rolled out across all of HMRC?
3 If these tactics are actually being rolled out, are they actually working and helping improve performance and morale?
4 What really needs to be done?
5 As a member of staff of HMRC, what was your genuine feeling about the Strathie response to the survey?
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