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convince your gm to introduce the capability framework

How to convince your General Manager to introduce the Capability Framework

By Nicola Vass - 8th October 2018  |  Capability Framework , Government

Working in HR, you are typically the first to recognise the tangible benefits of implementing the Local Government Capability Framework. With that realisation can often come the task of convincing your General Manager (GM) and Executive Leadership Team (ELT) to allocate the necessary time and resources to put the framework in place. With a myriad of competing priorities for councils, not least of which are those arising from the 2016 mergers, it’s not surprising that you might find the Capability Framework ‘sell’ to be a tall order.

INS has been delivering workshops with Local Government NSW across the state, showcasing strategies for utilising and implementing the framework. We regularly hear, “I think we can really make use of this at our council, but I don’t know how to get my GM on board”

Here are some ideas to help you do just that.

We want to acknowledge that there are GMs in both metro and regional councils who are the driving force behind the adoption and implementation of the Capability Framework into their council. They believe in the positive outcomes the Framework will have on their workforce management processes. They also recognise the capacity of the Framework to strengthen workplace culture and promote staff adaptability. These leaders understand that creating an adaptable workforce fosters organisational resilience, and prepares staff to meet ever-changing demands. With the allocation of resources and budgets to the Framework, the question of implementation is not ‘if’ but ‘when’.

If you’re not one of those lucky councils, these are our top 4 strategies for motivating your GM:

1. Start informally by gathering and addressing concerns

Have an informal chat with your GM and ELT members with influence to gauge their opinion and get their initial thoughts on your idea. Listen well and capture their concerns so you can address them in a more formal initiative proposal later on. Use these sessions as getting advice and feedback to help you formulate the best approach for your council. Apart from the information you get, you have started to engage them in the process.

Be earnest in your belief that the Capability Framework will make a significant difference to the issues your council is facing.

2. Draft a clear statement covering WHY your council would want to introduce the Framework

No surprises here, exactly as you would expect, the best place to start is with a high-level summary of the key benefits of the Local Government Capability Framework. Some example points to focus on are:

  • Recruitment – attracting more and/or better suited candidates and streamlining existing processes.
  • Performance development – promoting cultural change, building the capability of people managers to consistently and positively get the best from their staff.
  • Workforce planning – future-proofing your workforce, preparing for the inevitable changes to jobs that has already begun as a result of technological advances.

Your emphasis should be on the specific areas where your council is currently experiencing the most pain. In HR, you are in a unique position to know these pain points thoroughly and intimately.

Performance development is a priority for most councils we speak with. Moving their workforce into higher performance and a more constructive culture is deemed as important, although it is difficult to qualify the benefit.

3. Develop a VISION for what the Capability Framework will create for your council

Having an inspiring vision for what you aim to create with the implementation of the Local Government Capability Framework, will significantly increase the impact of your petition. The power of storytelling to motivate action is so well-documented, that major corporations employ authors to create stories for their brands and products.

Additionally, organisational leaders tend to speak the language of vision statements. Capturing the essence of the framework vision and aligning it with your Council’s vision will create an opportunity for your ELT to see and support your proposal.

Describe with specific examples what will be different and how these new features of workforce management contribute to your council’s overarching plans. If your council has a strategic plan with a goal that relates to or depends on workforce performance, show how introducing the Capability Framework will enable your council to better achieve their goal.

4. Anticipate any potential obstacles or challenges to Capability Framework implementation at your council and PROVIDE SOLUTIONS

Again, this is stating the obvious, but sometimes those things that “go without saying” are inadvertently overlooked or left unsaid.

One example of an obstacle HR managers anticipate from the ELT is “reform overwhelm”. Whether as a result of mergers or due to other disruption factors, many councils are in a whirlwind of constant reform. Some leaders may raise the concern that introducing the Capability Framework will somehow cause the bucket to overflow.

There is a range of potential solutions to apply in this scenario, including:

  • using a staged approach to adopting the framework
  • choosing specific entry points where there is greatest need or
  • the most immediate win.

If executed carefully and strategically, the Capability Framework can be piggy-backed onto reform processes already underway, even doing some of the heavy lifting where the reform requires cultural shifts and changes in organisational direction.

Find a way of describing how introducing the Capability Framework actually decreases risk and increases the chance of reform success. Introducing the Capability Framework is not an extra thing to do, it is the way those things will get done.

Data is your best friend

Compile all the numbers and data relating to the attributes and needs of your workforce and use these to assist your ELT to make a decision on the framework from an informed position. If you come up against any assumptions or generalisations about how they think your staff or the unions might respond to the implementation, providing the necessary data is your best response.

In some cases, you may have experienced that regardless of how comprehensive and effective your approach to the ELT may be, the most persuasive factor is often that the message is delivered by someone outside the organisation. INS consultants have been meeting with both regional and metro Council leadership teams (at our cost) to facilitate this discussion and exploration with the ELT. Let us know if we can help!


Written by Sherryn McCarthy

Principal Consultant

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