Guiding principles and values
Adopting transition principles early in the planning phase of an amalgamation process can help govern and underpin all transitional activities for the future council’s structures and systems. In an environment of change and high expectation, principles can assist with achieving effective and realistic planning and operational outcomes.
Councils may decide to adopt the following principles:
- Service - Maintain seamless service delivery to communities.
- Opportunity - Embrace opportunities to improve services and infrastructure for communities.
- Cohesion - Bring together and build on the strengths of strategies, structures, staff and systems.
- Engagement - Inform & involve communities, staff & other partners in planning & implementing change.
- Integrity - Ensure ethical, open and accountable governance and administration.
- Respect - Value the knowledge and contributions of staff, communities and other partners.
In line with these principles, councils may consider adopting the following objectives to assist them with organisational change:
Objective 1: Engage community and work together
Councils are charged with the responsibility to deliver services, and provide and maintain the necessary infrastructure to do so. Ratepayers and other stakeholders must be part of the process that informs council of the type of services to be provided, the standard of service expected and the cost to serve. During the transition phase, engaging with communities is essential to ensuring that decision making is informed, long-term and demonstrates that we have understood and responded to community opinion.
Objective 2: Retain and grow the capacity and career of quality staff
Councils can provide defined and exciting career pathways for employees, improve skills and provide exposure to a wide variety of services and projects. This builds new organisational capability and capacity, aids employee retention and stability and increases the employer’s value proposition. Workplace practices will become more consistent and equitable with conditions of employment improving.
Objective 3: Maintain open and transparent communication
Successful reform is built upon regular and open communication. Keeping the community informed and inviting appropriate involvement will help to build a new council that is focussed on the community and its needs. Within council operations, open and transparent communication with employees is equally important. As the reform process gains momentum, ensuring employees are well informed of the changes, the impact and what to expect is essential. Employees can feel confused and unsure of their job security in a time of change. Consistent and concise two-way information sharing will also foster innovation and new ideas which is fundamental to developing new systems and structures.
Objective 4: Embrace opportunity and strive for best practice
The reform process provides a unique opportunity to create more robust, contemporary and relevant structures to support the community’s needs now and into the future. The reform process is not just about changing borders – it’s about identifying ways to improve the operations of council to deliver better, more efficient and effective ways of doing business and to improve services to the community.
Objective 5: Increase council’s capacity to improve community outcomes
Communities are expecting councils to enhance their capacity to deliver better services and improved infrastructure. While there may be some short term service delivery issues during the transition phase, implementing structural reform offers the potential to provide better services and improve the performance of assets, reduce costs, improve operational capacity and improve financial sustainability. Structural efficiency may also provide greater capacity for council to partner with other levels of government and business in more complex and major projects and drive reform when needed. In times of growth or change, councils can align resources to where they are most needed and provide maximum value to ratepayers.
Objective 6: Reduce council bureaucracy and streamline systems
Overly bureaucratic processes and inefficient systems can impose significant costs on the community. The reform process provides an opportunity to build fit-for-purpose processes and systems. There will be many arrangements, both formal and informal, that will need to be standardised which may prove problematic in some cases. Achieving an effective, efficient and transparent governance structure supported by robust, integrated systems and processes will contribute to the overall efficiency of council; improve service delivery and ratepayer satisfaction.
Values for change
As employees journey through the transition period, a high standard must be maintained in all interactions between internal departments and individual employees, as well as the amalgamating councils’ communities, stakeholders, contractors, funding bodies and other agencies.
To support this, councils may consider adopting a set of values that can help guide the way Councillors and employees think, behave, communicate and work together. By applying these values to support the change, all involved can create a more productive, harmonious and professional working environment and achieve successful reform outcomes and personal satisfaction.
Key values include:
- Leadership: Lead the change and lead by example
- Collaboration: Committed teams – one vision.
- Fairness: Equitable and practical solutions.
- Engagement: Work closely with our community and stakeholders.
- Innovation: Identify opportunity, nurture ideas and act.
- Excellence: Positive attitude, strive for success
- Communication: Consistent, concise and timely.
- Respect: Respect each other and our stakeholders.