Working within the APS
The project to redesign my website was finalised in June 2014. The information has been updated and restructured by function to focus on the requirements of the main audiences—review applicants and agency human resource practitioners. The site now uses two main gateway pages, with my office brand, to assist accessibility. A similar approach has been taken to the revision of the five brochures which outline my role and key functions. These are available on my website. New case summaries have also been added to my web pages to provide employees and agency decision-makers with de-identified, real-life examples of the interaction between people management policies and workplace culture and observations to help improve agency practice.
In 2013–14, I continued my program of regular discussions with agency representatives to explain decisions and to support continuous improvement in agency practice and decision-making. I made ‘courtesy calls’ to alert agencies to significant recommendations made by my delegates to set aside or vary significant decisions. These calls help agencies to understand the reasons for the recommendation and give them an opportunity to seek clarification or further information. Assisting agencies to learn from the Merit Protection Commissioner's experience with review work continues to be an important initiative.
During the year my delegates and I provided structured and tailored feedback on their caseload to the larger agencies—including the Australian Taxation Office and the departments of Defence and Human Services. These take the form of briefings of senior executives and people management practitioners.
In 2013–14, I addressed employees in a number of agencies and gave presentations to the APS Small Agencies Forum and the Commission's People Management Network. Topics included best practice in performance management, encouraging thinking outside the square to develop new approaches in tight times, and how to motivate people. Ms Karin Fisher, as Acting Merit Protection Commissioner, gave presentations on identifying and handling conflicts of interest and the insights into reviews involving performance management. I also assisted in publicising the joint Commission and Comcare publication Working together: Promoting mental health and wellbeing at work, giving a presentation at the then Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.
I consider it important to promote the role of ethical leadership in effective people management and for this reason again provided assistance to the Commissioner with the delivery of the Senior Executive Service orientation program. During 2013–14, I gave four presentations on the topic of ‘Leading with integrity—APS values and ethics’.
The varying audiences I addressed enabled me to communicate with a cross-section of employees about the role of leadership and the importance of ethical behaviour. Smaller forums also give me the opportunity to have a practical dialogue with employees, managers and human resource practitioners.