Fair Work Ombudsman’s conversation series ‘simply’ inspiring
Sometimes the simplest solutions are best. Like speaking to one another, as the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) found through its series of two hour conversations between SES and lower level managers. While the aim was to uplift manager capability and understanding of the agency’s strategic direction, these simple but effective conversations achieved much more.
Kath Cole, Director of People Strategy in People Branch said by having these conversations, senior executives really understood the challenges managers were facing, and could support them better.
“Managers found the sessions extremely useful,” said Kath. “We heard things like, ‘I realised I wasn’t alone as other managers, including senior leaders, face similar challenges.’”
“Managers often say it’s easy to fall into the ‘too busy’ trap when it comes to your own development. So it was really valuable for them to carve out a couple of hours with other managers,” said Kath.
Over the past few months, almost all of the FWO’s 200 managers, from APS6 upwards and in all major locations, have had open and honest conversations. In small groups, they’ve discussed and shared their management challenges, opportunities and experiences.
Conversation topics ranged from how to be a leader in the APS and develop your skills as a manager, to how to manage staff at all performance levels, and create a learning culture in your team. Participants were encouraged to share personal experiences and learn from each other. One participant said, “It was genuinely inspiring to see a senior leader let herself be vulnerable.”
Kath said the conversations have prepared their managers well for the APS Commissioner’s new directions on performance management and the introduction of the FWO’s Manager Statement of Expectations.
“I think one of the most powerful takeaways was hearing senior executives acknowledge becoming a good manager is a work in progress, and not always a smooth process,” she said.
To find out more about the conversation series, email Kathryn.Cole [at] fwo.gov.au.