Verdict of frontline staff in report
Morale ‘getting lower by the day’
Council ‘committed to addressing issues raised’
York’s top council officers are considered by their own staff to be out of touch, lacking leadership and responsible for a blame culture, according to an internal document seen by YorkMix.
The document, prepared after consultation with City Of York Council staff, presents a litany of criticism of the chief executive of the council, Kersten England, and her team of directors and assistant directors.
The member of staff who sent it to YorkMix said the report was the “tip of the iceberg” and that morale among frontline council staff is “getting lower by the day”.
The council said they recognised that “a number of difficult decisions had been made that adversely impacted on staff”. Leaders take the views of staff very seriously and are “committed to addressing the issues raised through direct action”. Read the full comment below.
The document, Organisational Development Action Plan, was compiled after council staff were asked for feedback on the leadership team, including via focus groups.
We understand it was presented earlier in September 2014.
It identifies a series of criticisms levelled at authority bosses and suggests a strategy to turn things around.
‘Things will only get worse’
The council whistleblower who sent us the report told us: “This report touches the tip of an ugly dysfunctional iceberg.
“The top management is completely out of touch and now suddenly they think they can change.
“We don’t have any confidence that things will improve, morale is low and getting lower by the day.
“Until there is a change at the top, things will only get worse for us frontline staff doing the best we can.”
Throughout the report two abbreviations are used:
CMT is the Council Management Team, also known as the Corporate Management Team. This consists of chief executive Kersten England and senior directors.
CLG stands for Corporate Leadership Group. This consists of the CMT plus assistant council directors.
The report also refers to the Rewiring Public Services programme, now underway at the council.
The report consists of a series of slides under the headings Leadership, Culture, Employee Engagement and Workforce Development.
Under Leadership, the report summarises the current position at City of York Council:
The authors suggest that the council focuses on: “building people’s trust” in their bosses; demonstrating “strong authentic leadership”; and “role modelling good behaviour and acting as staff would expect”.
They recommend a leadership development programme, and also suggest “‘Back to the Floor’ sessions for Directors to work with teams in a different Directorate”.
Culture: ‘no sense of direction’
The report summarises the council’s current position as:
The council must focus on “building a clear and credible picture of where the council is heading and why”.
It should start “sharing the culture we want to encourage with all staff”.
Employee Engagement: ‘unclear messages’
The report lists four criticisms:
The council must demonstrate “that we value, respect and involve managers and staff”, and build “a sense of community – Team York”.
To achieve this, the report suggests that a new website be developed with staff and that “quarterly staff road-shows led by Directors” be introduced.
Workforce Development: ‘limited understanding’
The current position, according to the report:
It should also ensure “that behavioural and workforce changes are successful by taking a people approach”.
The report says “developing a ‘Rising stars’ programme” will help achieve this.
Council response: ‘We’re addressing the issues’
Ian Floyd, director of customer & business support services at City of York Council, said: “The survey this presentation relates to was conducted at the request of the council’s management team to build on their commitments made in the Workforce Strategy for engagement and involvement.
“They recognised that in the financial circumstances that the council has been operating in, a number of difficult decisions had been made that adversely impacted on staff. Increasing demand for services, uncertainty about job security and the scale of change the council faces has created concern and frustration for many staff.
“This presentation is an amalgamation of varying views gained from the survey of around 100 members of staff at the council and should be considered in the context of wider discussions which have taken place with staff.”
Mr Floyd said the council “takes the views of our staff very seriously, which is why we conduct surveys and hold wider discussions to gain their feedback, as part of a significant programme of ongoing staff engagement.
“As a management team we’re committed to addressing the issues raised through direct action.
“Many of the actions outlined in this presentation are already underway and we will be continuing to ask for feedback from staff throughout their implementation.
“Organisational change and improvement has to be just that – everyone in the organisation working together and supporting one another to deliver necessary changes, whilst striving for improvement.”