There was the inevitable clean out when Dawn Baxendale arrived from the UK to become CEO. That happens when a governing board, in this case the City Council, selects a change manager to turn around an organisation.
CCC had become a bit like a cruise liner drifting in the high seas without power when Dawn Baxendale arrived. That was due to several factors. The major one was that central government had effectively taken over the operation of this city since the earthquakes. The experience of Christchurch with central government should be a warning to those North Island communities which have been devastated by weather events over the early part of this year. Don’t trust central government bureaucrats. Take their money but don’t give up your power, would be my advice.
That’s I guess how the council ended up bringing somebody from the UK to clean up our relationships and improve staff morale.
It is a concern that, yet another senior manager, Jane O’Toole, has left CCC. This time the head of H/R. I met with Jane when I served on the External Advisory Group at CCC. She impressed me as an intelligent, competent, and likeable person. It is a worry that she has left her crucial role. https://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/131515194/another-senior-christchurch-city-council-manager-leaves.
There’s a cloud hanging over another General Manager Jane Davis, and a very popular staff member, Helen Beaumont, who have been on gardening leave for weeks.
Dawn Baxendale has now been CE for 4 years. She has had sufficient time to implement whatever changes to the institution she desires. Several her senior staff have left. At stages in the past year there have been large numbers of staff leaving CCC. It is a time of change for many, but CCC seems to have a large number of vacancies.
CCC has won two international awards in the past for excellence in performance. We should aspire to achieve this again.
There are two independent tests of whether her leadership is working. These will be released soon.
- The first is two weeks ago, the internal council staff survey was completed. Last year’s result was poor, and we can only hope that there has been a considerable improvement from this year’s survey. The CE promised the council, and the public, that this would improve by this year.
- The second test is the citizens survey which must be close to completion. This survey of over 1100 citizens has been undertaken for decades. This survey used to drive policy and was independent feedback on how CCC was viewed by its ratepayers.
I remember when the results came out. The team responsible for managing the survey would walk down the hall and drop off a copy onto my desk and on each of the members of the Executive team. We then poured over the numbers and immediately shared them with all the Council members.
In my last year as mayor, we received a 79% approval rating from our community. We agonised about how we had lost 21% and what we could do to improve it.
Last year the ratings were around 42% approval. This number is dreadful, and the CE was challenged to improve these considerably this year, which she assured would happen. CCC should be aspiring to get back to the 70’s again and it will be a poor result if it’s anywhere near what it was last year.
In the past few years the announcement of the results seemed to be delayed for some reason. There is no reason why the public should not be given these immediately.
These surveys are really an independent measure of the effectiveness of the CE. Now is time, after 4 years at the helm, to assess just how effective Dawn Baxendale’s leadership has been. It’s time to test whether she is leading the council effectively and efficiently. This city has had a reputation of being a leader in this country. The city’s confidence has been knocked around following the earthquakes and the Mosque murders.
We need to return to where we should be performing as the great city it could be.\