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Public sector leadership teams criticised, as only 7% of staff feel empowered

Only 7% of public sector employees view their work environment as empowering, prompting calls for a national training programme for public sector managers, according to new research.

The ‘Invigorating the Public Sector Revolution’ report, released by Solace and software, technology and outsourcing specialists Civica, also found that a significant proportion of public sector workers were critical of their management.

Just under half of respondents (47%) said their leadership team lacks the management skills needed for a period of massive and accelerating change,  25% describe their leadership team as poor and 66% say leaders were “detached from the reality of the job”.

Some of the survey’s respondents also felt that the public sector needs to change, with 36% wanting public sector leaders to invest in creating a more flexible and adaptive working environment. Over a quarter believe leaders need to embrace modern working practices to aid change, 33% think the public sector is too bureaucratic and 34% want to see leaders change the entire organisational structure.

Wayne Story, deputy CEO at Civica, said:  “As the pace of change accelerates, not everyone has the necessary skills to manage and build on the shifts taking place. Public sector leaders need to be able to empower and inspire the wider workforce and take responsibility for building a culture that encourages employees to innovate and try new ways of working without fear of failure.

“Whilst excellent public sector training and development exists to support individual challenges, we would propose introducing a nationally-funded programme to arm leaders with the skills they require to meet future demands and effectively manage the significant change and increasing expectation using tools and technology available to encourage collaboration and innovation.”

Civica’s Leadership Forum of public and private sector executives proposed changes to public sector leadership including empowering employees and giving them a voice, breaking down barriers between agencies to allow roles to evolve and giving employees space to innovate and take risks.

Kim Ryley, former CEO and chair, Solace in Business said: “The biggest barriers are not technology or resource based, they are people’s attitudes. Public sector organisations need a style of leadership that creates a sense of purpose where they can sell hope to the people, and visibly walk the walk.”

The survey of 276 public sector workers in middle management or below was conducted by Opinium Research in January 2016.


Peter   17/02/2016 at 08:39

There is much that I recognise in this report. As a career public servant (something I'm almost sadly embarrassed to admit by the way), I find the lack of visible and positive leadership quite frustrating. In my own organisation there appears to be little appetite for change and I would certainly doubt the capability of our senior management to implement change successfully. Of course there has been a measure of 'tinkering' with structures, processes and so forth but very little real change. We are bloated with management layers, unfocussed and riven with subtle yet damaging in-fighting. Like a fish out of water it seems we are trying to flip-flop our way back towards a receding tide while all the while gasping for air!

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