Public Servant Resolutions for 2015

I first published a set of possible public servant resolutions in 2011. Heading into 2015, these resolutions are as relevant today as they were in 2011. I have tweaked them and added a few new ones.

As you read through this collection of possible resolutions, it is not about taking on board everything but rather, finding the few that resonate with you. I hope you have a fantastic 2015.

Possible public servant resolutions for 2015

  1. Participate. Get involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Share your ideas; help develop the ideas of your colleagues. No matter what you do, make a contribution. You can get a lot of satisfaction from developing and implementing ideas to improve the way you work, the way we deliver services to the community, whether the ideas are your own or that of a colleague.
  2. Respect*. The pace and complexity of the modern public service means we are all busy and under pressure. Be mindful of others and resolve to treat each other well. Listen to your colleagues and try to engage in a conversation instead of a competition. Accept constructive criticism with grace. Be grateful and thank your colleagues for their contributions.
  3. Solutions focused*. The public service is charged with delivering a complex range of services, policies, and projects. To meet these challenges we need to be solution focused, to be constructive, and brave. We need to offer sound, informed advice. We need to implement policy and deliver services effectively. We need to create and embrace new ideas. The public service environment can be highly risk adverse. It is all to easy to pull-apart an idea for its potential faults and that is a useful skill, but it can be counter-productive if it occurs before an idea has been fully tested for its potential. Let the idea run first, before letting the ‘black-hats’ de-construct it. It’s only then that the strengths get a full airing, before the weaknesses emerge.
  4. Grow. Continuing to learn and grow your capacity can enhance your contribution as a public servant. Whether it is learning new ways to create policy or engage with the community or new skills such as project management, learning helps you improve your capacity as a public servant. Improving your capacity means you may be given other opportunities. Think about how you want to contribute as a public servant and what you need to learn to position yourself to give you the best chance of getting that opportunity. Remember, it may be that the best way to grow is to take up an opportunity to work in another part the public service.
  5. Balance*. To give your best, to grow and to innovate requires time. Most of us are so busy just getting through our day to day tasks that it is very easy for us all to focus our time on just what is in front of us, on the work we are doing right now. This focus can mean that we are not giving enough attention to the bigger picture or connecting with people in our divisions, agencies, across government or in our communities (for more on this check out the Take 10 Challenge). Getting our balance right and having the courage to delegate to someone who wants to have a go can help you get a better balance. Remember that giving someone else the opportunity to grow and develop while being challenged with a new role or task is possibly the best opportunity for them to develop and grow (Resolution #4). And by helping them take on the new challenge, you will inevitably grow and develop too. Everybody wins!
  6. Do the right things*. Where to you spend your time? Every job involves a multitude of tasks, some with obvious value and some a lot more questionable. Find the time to ask whether the bottom 5% of those tasks really are necessary. Can they be stopped to free up resources. If they are outside your control, is there an effective alternative you can suggest? The key to spending your time on broader issues and objectives, to spending your time on the right things, is to consistently free up time and resources (for more on this check out the 100:0:0 challenge).
  7. Embrace technology*. The world is changing fast. Services are changing rapidly and the expectations of the public are growing. The delivery of public services needs to keep pace — technology is driving the future of public service delivery. Don’t resist it, embrace it, play with it and actively work to make sure it improves service delivery. It’s not about technology for technology’s sake, but about improved service delivery — services people want, when they want them, and how they want to access or receive them.
  8. Live your public service values. Your Department, and possibly your public service, has gone to a lot of trouble to identify values that support the objectives of the Department. Do you know what they are? Do you live them? Resolve to live the values of your Department. If you have an issue with the current set of values, then talk to others about your ideas and make sure you get involved in any planning process.
  9. Collaborate. There is a lot of talk about collaborating with other parts of your Department, with other Departments, with NGOs and the private sector. Are you collaborating? We produce better work and can achieve better outcomes when we leverage the knowledge and support of our colleagues. Who can help you improve your work? What information do you need and who has it? What information do you have that you can share with colleagues in your Department of even another Department? How can you work with another Department to better your own and their objectives? Take an interest in what other Departments are doing and I guarantee you will find ways where you can collaborate to deliver better outcomes. Equally important, share what you are doing with your colleagues and you will find they are able to give you new insights and ideas to improve the work you are doing.
  10. Support, Mentor and Guide*. Take a look around your division or Department. How can you support or assist a colleague in their job? What can you do to help give a colleagues what they need to excel at their work? Resolve to work with your colleagues, to help your colleagues become better at what they do. Identify a younger colleagues who shows promise and take an interest in what they are working on and what advice or past learning might assist them grow in their role.
  11. Serve*. Think about this idea of service. No seriously, think about it. You are a public servant. There is no greater work to be done than the work in service to your community. So take pride in the opportunity you have to serve. Respect individuals and the community. As you go about your work, think of the greater good and the interests of your community. Make a commitment to be a better servant of the people, a better public servant.

* Updated or new.

I encourage you to share any resolutions you have made about your role as a public servant.

Thanks to Alastair, Janet, Terri, Jeff, and Dave for reading drafts of this article.

regards, Jason
A public servant since 28 June 1999.

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Where do you spend your time?

In 2006 Sir Gus O’Donald (former head of the UK Civil Service) challenged his top leadership with a simple question: Where do you spend your time?

Sir Gus set them his “100:0:0″ challenge.  This challenge was his way of asking them how much of their time was spent on their narrow policy areas, their departmental objectives and civil-service wide, corporate issues.   For many the answer is 100:0:0.

How do you spend your time? Use can use this template to undertake your own exercise.  Do it once every few months (at least bi-annually).

The Challenge:

If any of the boxes are zero or below 10%, think about what you can do to increase that percentage. There is no right or perfect mix.

It is often hard to find time to look outside your own division, workgroup or other administrative unit. Every job involves a multitude of tasks, some with obvious value and some a lot more questionable. Find the time to ask whether the bottom 5% of those tasks really are necessary. Can they be stopped to free up resources? If they are outside your control, is there an effective alternative you can suggest? The key to spending your time on broader issues and objectives is to consistently free up time and resources.

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A gift of service: lend a hand where it is needed

Given the response in 2011, ‘A Give of Service’ is back.  As we approach Christmas there are many community organisations that need help in delivering their services.

We would like to encourage you to give a gift of service this Christmas and volunteer at least 4 hours of your time before Christmas to lend a hand where it is needed.

It is our wish that by sharing with you the jobs, activities and tasks that community organisations have identified they need help with, that we make the choice of giving a gift of service a little easier to make.

You can do more than just send a seasons greeting or a merry Christmas.  You can do something meaningful, something that will make somebody’s day.  For more information about the ‘A Gift of Service’ challenge, read this post from last year.

Through Volunteers SA/NT we have identified jobs, activities and tasks accessible and you can find them here.

The volunteering has already started, including a few members of the NT Department of the Chief Minister and the NT Department of the Attorney-General and Justice,  joining with some Rotarians to help wrap presents for the Salvation Army’s Flying Padre (pictures below).

We also want to give a special thank you to John McNeur (Volunteers SA/NT) and Anne Coleman (NT Department of the Chief Minister) for their support of the ‘A Gift of Service’ initiative.

If you want to know where help is needed click here.  If you are part of an NGO that needs help, then email me.

Please feel free to email or post a comment and share what you did for your 4 hours.



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