Fraser Coast Regional Council - Mayor Chris Loft..
Fraser Coast Regional Council - Mayor Chris Loft.. Alistair Brightman

MAYOR'S MESSAGE: Cultural shift at Fraser Coast council

WHEELS are in motion for a cultural shift at Fraser Coast Regional Council with the chief executive officer launching the TRAITS Change Management Plan.

In late 2016, the council commissioned CPEM Consulting Group to investigate various aspects of the organisation, from workforce planning to employee development.

The report concluded there was strong evidence of a toxic culture. It also contained 49 recommendations to maximise the council's culture and people.

The need for a major change was clear. The challenge was how to change.

When new chief executive Ken Diehm came on board in June, one  goal set by the council was to transform the workforce culture to a positive and productive environment.

The CEO felt strongly that the task-based approach recommended by the CPEM report would not  bring about sustainable cultural change in Fraser Coast Regional Council.

Rather than simply implement the 49 tasks recommended by the CPEM report, the CEO worked with people from all levels within the organisation to develop the TRAITS Change Management Plan that is focused on changing the hearts and minds of council employees.

The cornerstone of the TRAITS Change Manage- ment plan is values-based leadership. The TRAITS values of Trust, Respect, Accountability, Initiative, Teamwork, and Service are now being built into all activities of the council.

The CEO has made everyone aware that hiring, firing, and training  will be based on these values.

Another pleasing aspect of the CEO's plan is that for the first time in the history of the council every employee can have input into the direction and management of the organisation.

This will start with an annual Performance and Engagement Survey that measures  performance of the council against the Business Excellence frame- work and benchmarks our council against more than 60  throughout Australia.

The results of the survey will be made to all teams within the council who will then be empowered to develop their own action plans to improve productivity, efficiency, culture, and safety.

Both the CEO and I believe that while culture is driven from the top down, it is our people who provide the day-to-day services that can drive increases in productivity and efficiency.

They just need someone to believe in them and to give them the ability to make changes.

I believe that we now have staff that is prepared to put suggestions up because there is a culture where their suggestions get listened to.

A great example of this in action is with one of our road crews that recently identified savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years through the purchase of plant and equipment, rather than continuing to hire it.

I think the future is bright for Fraser Coast Regional Council and that the CEO's plan will allow us to return to being a highly productive, efficient and effective organisation.