Local Leadership Shines at LGMA Challenge

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Local Leadership Shines at LGMA Challenge

For the 2015 LGMA Australasian Management Challenge, UTS:CLG used the LGMA National Congress theme of 'The Value Proposition' as the basis for the design of the Pre-Challenge Task. 

Positioned as "a collection of reasons why a person or company should engage with your organisation", 111 teams across Australia and New Zealand were tasked with exploring the concept and use of the 'value proposition' within Local Government.  

The pre challenge task required teams to produce a video and info-graphic that presented new ideas about how their council can use value propositions to attract and retain a relevant workforce that has the skills to respond the unique qualities of their local communities.  

It was a certainly a 'challenging' task, with teams required to: learn new concepts around 'The Value Proposition'; research the context of their current and future local communities; draw upon existing workforce strategies of their own council; and come up with something new using technical production and graphic skills. And all within a timeframe of only five weeks…

Typically, a 'management challenge' team will only come together for the purpose of the event, so team working on such a weighty challenge not only tests the quality of a team's output in a short space of time, but also tests their capability to work as a project group, build camaraderie, display leadership and quickly draw on the individual skills and talents that each person in the team brings.

And have fun while doing so! 

The range of pre-challenge task submissions was diverse, with each council providing a unique interpretation and perspective on the challenge.  In assessing this task, the judges were particularly looking for submissions where teams clearly understood what a value proposition was, and could strongly articulate well positioned statements that could be used by council to help address challenges and opportunities related to contemporary workforce recruitment and retention in the sector.

Stronger submissions had impact and contained insights and information that can contribute to the sector's understanding of the concept of the value proposition.

Top scoring submissions from across the regions are available on LGMA National's youtube channel. Three of the top scoring submissions from across the participating teams were selected by LGMA National and showcased at their recent Congress in Darwin.  I had the pleasure of facilitating this session where team representatives from Murrindindi Shire Council (VIC), City of Darwin (NT), and Charters Towers Regional Council (QLD) presented their videos and info-graphics to congress attendees.

So what were some of key insights?

Team members from Murrindindi Shire Council suggested the need to anticipate the replacement of skilled staff and to meet future needs of an aging community with increased home care staff. The need for a greater diversity of the workforce was also proposed as was the need to attract skilled professionals. To meet this challenge the Murrindindi Team suggested strengthening their organisation's work experience and apprenticeship profile, and to support initiatives to encourage more locals to join Council. Ideas for improved arrangements for retirement transition, graduate pathways for existing staff and targeting potential employees were also highlighted. View the Murrindindi Team video here.

The Darwin Team also identified in their pre-challenge task the need for succession planning for staff as a future challenge. Currently 14 percent of council staff is under 30 year of age with the largest proportion of staff (37 percent) over 50, so a potential skills gap was projected. The growth of Darwin and the competition for staff in a growing region was put forward as an issue. To address these and other challenges, the Darwin Team's value proposition included highlighting the diversity of the Darwin and council's innovative work environment. In particular, a targeted skills attraction drive into Queensland through job exchanges and advertising campaigns among other initiatives was suggested. View the Darwin Team video here.

From regional Queensland, the Charters Towers Team suggested the importance of further educating the community about the value of council's workforce, to achieve a greater understanding and acceptance of their work. The Team also highlighted the pending issue of at least half of its current workforce likely to retire over the next decade. A necessity was suggested to maintain and up-skill the existing workforce and attract motivated people to the organisation, in particular the Generation Y demographic. Tactics were proposed to understand this age-group, especially what motivates and what might appeal such as flexible working arrangements. Establishing an 'Employee Value Proposition' for all strategic documents was also proposed along with other initiatives. View the Charters Towers video here.

After the pre challenge task, teams competed in regional challenge days in March and were presented with a range of tasks that tested their knowledge, time management, creative processes, team dynamics and how they respond to 'curveballs' or unexpected occurrences during the day.  

Each year, observers and judges are impressed by the dedication, commitment, hard work and good humour that teams bring to the challenge and this year was no exception.   

Following a close assessment of all tasks (including the pre-challenge task), the winning teams from each region have been announced - congratulations to Marrickville City Council (NSW), City of Salisbury (SA), City of Palmerston (NT), Murrindindi Shire Council (VIC), Tauranga City Council (NZ), Mackay (QLD), City of Joondalup (WA) and Kingborough Council (TAS). 

Place-getters for the 2015 Management Challenge Final were:

3rd Tauranga Council (New Zealand)

2nd Marrickville Council (NSW)

1st Kingborough Council (Tasmania)

LGMA finals celebration

View images from the Finals here.

ACELG has supported the 2015 LGMA Australasian Management Challenge.

Sophi Bruce is a program specialist at the UTS Centre for Local Government with a focus on leadership.