Rotorua District Council chief executive Peter Guerin talks about the importance of staff development and team motivation for achieving good results.
It’s well accepted and understood that the most important asset any successful business can have is its staff, especially if it is to be an effective and well performing unit. In the best businesses employees embrace the organisation’s vision and values, understand its customers’ expectations and are committed to providing top service at the lowest possible cost.
As one of the district’s largest employers, Rotorua District Council is no exception. We employ around 500 staff, and we are responsible for managing annual budgets of 100 million dollars along with assets worth around a billion dollars. And our staff members certainly comprise our most important asset.
We’re proud of our record of solid achievements for our community but we haven’t got there by accident, and we can’t and won’t rest on our laurels.
To keep our people performing well and meeting our business targets within a framework of diminishing budgets requires constant staff development, ongoing team building and regular direct communication. These are fundamental to effective leadership in any business wanting to stay on top of its game.
One of many tools for boosting staff performance is bringing everyone together for a few hours from time-to-time to help build team capability and to ensure everyone is traversing the same path rather than operating in silos. This isn’t easy with a council as we have a multiplicity of functional teams working on many seemingly unrelated activities.
This month for the first time we’re getting most of our staff together in one venue for an afternoon and evening of team building and staff development. Because we’re conscious of the need to minimise costs, the budget has been kept in the vicinity of just $20 per head thanks to a number of our business partners donating services or discounting charges. Those partners recognise the importance to the community of a well performing, focused and committed council team.
In the past three years I have made the decision to cancel our organisation’s regular staff Christmas function in the interests of reducing costs. To some extent this month’s special staff event is a replacement of the team building and motivational component that those gatherings would usually help fulfill.
It’s hard to imagine anyone denying the importance of an organisation bringing its staff together occasionally so they can come up to speed with what’s ahead of them, talk about the challenges they face, and discuss ways of doing things better and more cost effectively. At the same time it’s not unreasonable to have a bit of fun together as a team and to take time to acknowledge areas where good results have been achieved. That’s what we’re doing.
Like any good business that values its employees and seeks to get the best out of them, we’re committed to a professional staff development programme that ultimately benefits our customers – in our case these are the residents of Rotorua for whom we provide a wide range of important services.