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Welcome to the 2015 Summer edition of the Mead Perry Group newsletter.

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In this Issue
 

  • What have we been doing?
  • Feature Story - High Performance Local Government
  • MPG Team - Out and About Photo Gallery
  • Client Profile: Getting to know You
  • Further Conferences Scheduled
  • Our Specialist Services
  • Skills Manager
  • Our Local Buy registration contract details


 

What have we been doing?

We have been keeping busy with a variety of specialist projects for Councils throughout Australia, including but not limited to;
 

  • IT System Procurement and Implementation - 1 Council
  • Corporate Plan - 1 Council
  • General Rate & Utilities Charges Review - 2 Councils, 2 projects
  • Financial Consultancy - 2 Councils, 3 projects
  • Business Process Improvement - 1 Council, 2 projects
  • Human Resources Management - 5 Councils, 6 projects
  • Plant Review and Data Analysis - 3 Councils, 5 projects
  • Management Training - 1 Council
  • Operations Support - 1 Council

Does your organisation need advice or assistance in any of these areas?

We can help.


MPG feel it is important to ensure good communication and networking continues to be a high priority with both existing and new clients to better serve needs of local governments and the issues that immediately affect you!


 

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High Performance Local Government
Series of discussion papers


 
At the 2015 Queensland LGMA State Conference Mead Perry Group hosted and ran a workshop session that explored the concept that Local Government is the quintessential employer of choice.
Various groups explored a range of issues and options but one constant theme was the impact that CEO turnover and difficulty in attracting to potential candidates to senior management roles has on Council performance.
Over the next few newsletters we are going to explore these matters. We hope to be able to enhance the discussion currently going on in the Local Government industry through the presentation of some balanced observations and ideas. The aim is to promote the understanding of the views of all parties and hopefully therefore to promote changes that will enhance Local Government performance and improve service delivery to the community.
 

No 1- Who would want to be a Council CEO?

 Senior Management Separation
One area that was highlighted in our workshops as a contributor to perceived high turn over in senior management is the willingness of Councils to use the “No Cause” provisions of employment contracts.

So why are “No Cause” provisions in employment contracts a problem for senior managers in Local Government?
Post amalgamation in Queensland there has been well documented volatility at a councillor level with high turnover of mayors and councillors. Many of these new councillors had campaigned on a platform of reform. In many cases this reform is not only aimed at elected members but also officers including the CEO.
To state the obvious, this is no good for the CEO who may have little time to convince the new Council that during the previous term they had “only been doing their job”. That they were implementing the wishes of the former duly elected Council and that they will be diligent in doing the same for the new Council.
If they are unsuccessful in this, Council can conveniently use the termination without cause provisions or what are sometimes called the “colour of your socks” (COYS) clause of the officers’ contract and have them go quietly away, often at significant cost to the community.

What are the perceived implications of the use of a COYS clause to remove senior management?
Having been in involved in numerous CEO performance reviews and contact negotiations we have identified the issues that particularly concern CEOs. They include:
 
  • Waste of Council resources. The expense incurred in termination payments and the cost of recruiting a replacement that are not disclosed to the community. CEOs see this as an exception to the general requirement for mandatory disclosure and transparency and Council is not in any way called to account or required to justify their actions or the cost associated with it.
  • Loss of reputation. The standard confidentiality requirements associated with COYS clause settlements mean that the reason for the contract termination is left to speculation and many CEOs consider that it has negative implications for their future in Local Government.
  • Mental trauma. For a person who has spent their working life building a career in local Government, termination without cause can be traumatic and have devastating implications for years after. There is often a detrimental effect on other staff within the organisation with them losing motivation, morale and productivity.
  • Impact on family. For many CEOs being terminated means that they have to leave the community, move - school, friends, partners, work etc is disruptive at best and devastating at worst. This is often the area that most concerns them.
  • Division and dysfunction in Council. Whether successful or not, an attempt to terminate an officer without cause can divide a Council on the basis of their support for the officer. We have seen instances of this where a divided Council becomes largely dysfunctional due to the refusal of some Councillors to let go of their determination to terminate the officer.
So how did we get here?
It is apparent that post amalgamation volatility in Queensland has contributed to turnover and the use of COYS contract provisions. While we accept that political imperatives have contributed to this, we would also suggest that in some instances amalgamations resulted in incumbent senior managers being appointed to manage significantly larger organisations with the difficult task of working through the change. It is likely that some of these managers were not equipped to handle their new roles and therefore moved on or were moved on for that reason. Therefore it is likely that post amalgamation there was a number of factors driving high senior management turnover.
Hopefully that volatility will continue to settle in coming years but the common use of these clauses will continue to be a concern of incumbent officers and a deterrent to potential up and coming senior managers. Senior managers tell us that they consider their roles in the current environment to be high risk and that risk is not reflected in remuneration levels.
For those of us who have been in local government for some time we can recall when Shire / Town Clerks (CEOs) were not employed on contracts and as with public servants generally had security of tenure. This did not mean that they could not be terminated for lack of performance or misconduct but it did mean that a new Mayor and Council had to work with them and “sack the CEO” was not election platform.
In talking to a range of officers about this, many of them would question the need for COYS clauses given that contracts generally have good protection for Council around performance and misconduct and the use of these provisions do not have financial implications for the community.

So is the removal of COYS clauses a likelihood?
If a review was conducted into means of improving the attractiveness of senior management roles in Local Government, perhaps removing COYS provisions would be considered but in reality it is unlikely that such a change would be mandated or become industry practice.

So what can be done to lower the risk to managers?
One CEO has commented on the need for a circuit breaker of some sort to allow for a reasoned dialogue to occur when Councils are looking to use COYS provisions.
So what could such a circuit breaker be?
 
  • Increasing the payout. This would go some way to addressing the risk and negative impact for the manager and may give Council cause to consider if such a decision is in the best interest of the community. The people we have spoken to consider the standard 6 months payout to be too low and suggest 12 months minimum is more appropriate.
  • Mandatory third party dispute mediation. This could require Council to undertake a process to make a case for the use of COYS provisions and justify the cost of payout and recruitment to a third party. This process could also involve a conciliation element to work through issues that have not been addressed.
  • Mandatory disclosure / justification for use of COYS provisions. This is obviously a complicated idea. On the surface it would involve Council reporting the use of COYS provisions and providing the reasons for the decision. Given that contracts provide for termination for performance and conduct related action these should not be able to be used as reasons. If irreconcilable differences are claimed then Council should be able to demonstrate that some mediation was attempted. If the reason is that Council doesn’t like the colour of their socks then they should disclose that and an indication of the cost of the decision and be held accountable for that decision to the community.
The solution to this issue is not simple but it does need to be recognised as an issue for Local Government across the country and hopefully our observations can assist in promoting discussion.

MPG Team - Out and About Photo Gallery

View of the Perth skyline.
The Swan River at sunset.

A few pictures of Scott and John's 'Great WA road trip' - return Perth up to Port Hedland and everywhere in between!

The contrasting nature of Queensland's Far North - travelling from Croydon across to Cairns.

LGMA QLD State Conference - Gladstone.

LGAQ Annual Conference - Toowoomba.

LGMA WA Annual Conference - Fremantle.

LGFP QLD Annual Conference - Gold Coast.

We launched our 'Travelling Shirt' campaign - snap a picture of wherever you are and whatever you are doing in your MPG shirt - check out some of the pictures below!

Out for breakfast in Gladstone with Mark Crawley (CEO Charters Towers) and Tanya Paynter (Business Development & Client Liaison MPG).

Off for a round of golf with (L-R) Chris Cowley (CEO Paroo); Scott Mead (Director MPG); Leon Love (CEO Diamantina); Ken Timms (CEO Blackall-Tambo); Des Howard (CEO Barcaldine); Mark Watt (Corp. Services & Risk Manager Ipswich) and Bob O'Brien (CEO Barcoo).

Client Profile

Getting to know You...

with Mark Pitt, CEO North Burnett Regional Council

 

I love doing what I do because…
I am able to assist people in their everyday life and I work with a dedicated and wonderful group of people
What takes up most of your spare time?

Work - LOL.  These days I try to read and relax with the odd movie and music. 
What are three things you couldn’t live without?
Mt family and friends is about the only thing :) - Foxtel does come a close second.
What is your favourite weekend activity? 
Relaxing.
What is your career highlight? 
QLD LGMA Manager of the Year.
What is your hidden talent?

Photography.
One of the most exciting experiences of my life has been...

My most recent trip overseas for all the wrong reasons.
The question people always ask me is... 
What Happened...?
My best ever holiday was… 
All holidays are great holidays - really cannot separate one from another.
My favourite movie is… 
Blade Runner.
I love the smell of… 
"I love the smell of napalm in the morning" - Apocalypse Now.
The thing I love most about my town is…
The sense of community.
What motto do you live by?

Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
 

The MPG team wishes you and your families all the best for this holiday season, and we look forward to working with you in the coming year.

Further Conferences scheduled for your information

Queensland
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia
South Australia
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia

New South Wales
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia
Victoria
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia
Tasmania
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia
Western Australia
Local Government Association
Local Government Managers Australia
Northern Territory
Local Government Association


 

Ask us about our Skills Manager Software, it's a very efficient way to keep track of all your training and qualifications!

Skills Manager is a database application that has been developed by Mead Perry Group to manage and report on licences, training and skill development information where the organisation’s corporate systems are not meeting their needs.
The advantage of using a database is the improved reporting options that are available compared to Word or Excel systems.  Skills Manager utilises the Microsoft Access database.  The major aims of Skills Manager include providing reports on:

 

  • individual employees licences and training; and
  • licences and training held by individual employees; and
  • when training or licences have expired.

Our Specialist Services

Local Buy

Register of Pre-Qualified

Suppliers (RPQS)
 


Business Management

Consultancy

BUS216-0811

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Our mailing address is:
PO Box 142, Highfields   Qld   4352

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