One of the roles of elected reps is to monitor the Council financially and, shall we call it, the “spirit” of the organisation. It is important to look for signs, like why is the staff annual survey not improving. Christchurch Council Staff Vent Anger On Leadership | Newsroom
Or why is the feedback they are receiving from the public so negative.
I have never seen the staff spirit so low at CCC. Nor have the public in this City rated the Council in such odium. Both surveys should worry all those at the Council table. The Mayor and Councillors are buried in reports and meetings. They have little time to sit back and reflect. Their role is to take the helicopter view and to ask the difficult questions.
Councillors should have outside advisors. It is useful to have informal advisors who come from many perspectives. I had a right-wing mate of mine who had a conversation with me most mornings at 6.45am. He accepted that I was a socialist. But we both cared passionately about this City. To be effective, I needed to understand his perspective as well and embrace it when his idea was more sensible than mine.
For me the elephant in the room at CCC is why two staff were put onto “gardening leave” in February and are still searching for weeds months later.
The CE has available to her a team of Internal Auditors, and over 30 staff in HR. If the matter needed a legal opinion, CCC has between 20 and 30 Lawyers.
Despite this abundance of in-house skills, the CE went outside the Council and engaged an independent law firm, and in addition, KPMG to undertake an investigation. If CCC gets any change from between $200-300K for the KPMG investigation I’d be surprised. I’ve given up guessing how much the lawyers would have charged.
Local Government Official Information Act (LOGOIMA) enquiries are useful to analyse why some staff recommendations or actions have been made, however getting answers is often difficult.
A LOGOIMA request for the KPMG report has been submitted and declined. I have gone back and asked for the cost of the report and for the recommended structural changes. I will report what is reported if it is received.
If the in-house staff could not give advice to enable the CE to arrive at a sound decision, why have them on the staff at all.
There appears to have been some progress when one staff on gardening leave resigned on the 2nd of July. Below is the RNZ report on Helen Beaumont’s departure. I’m sure many staff, and elected reps, will join me in wishing Helen well for the future.
The second staff member is still busy gardening.
Are CCC’s councillors taking a close interest in this debacle? Two staff members paid for, in one case 5 months, the other still ongoing, adds up to considerable ratepayers’ dollars. My estimate the wage cost would be around $250K.
The exercise of putting two staff members on “gardening leave” will possibly cost the ratepayers of this City between $600 and 800K. Maybe more. That’s a lot of potholes. When they have both left the Council’s employ it will take at least 3 expensive months to replace them.
Our elected reps must ask was why was it not sorted out by the CE using Council staff thus avoiding unnecessarily spending hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars on outside consultants on an exercise which has achieved what?
It would be useful for the Mayor and Councillors to reflect on a “Leadership Primer” by General Colin Powell. The good leadership challenge I think in this case refers to the elected Council. He wrote:
- Being Responsible sometimes means pissing people off
Colin Powell then elaborated and defined what he meant:
Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group (which in this case is the staff of CCC and the ratepayers of this City), which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable if you’re honourable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally “nicely” regardless of their contributions, you’ll simply ensure that the only people you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.