During the 2010/11 year we made good progress in reshaping the Ministry as a professional services organisation. This is about building a more business-like culture, and working more flexibly — a matrix structure where people often work in more than one team to ensure we can deliver on the various and often challenging demands on our organisation.

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We are now in a position where we are being more responsive and better aligning our work with the government’s priorities and the Minister’s work programme. Our flexible culture means that we can effectively respond to changing priorities, and staff have a stronger emphasis on putting their hands up to get jobs done, rather than drawing rigid lines around responsibilities.

The Shaping our Future programme is advancing the Ministry’s professional services mode of operation through six development goals which are championed by members of the Ministry Leadership Team. The development goals also map completely to the Review of Expenditure on Policy Advice Committee’s recommendations for agencies to improve their policy capability and cost effectiveness.

  • Development goal 1: We are clear about our position
  • Development goal 2: We are flexible at managing ourselves to focus on what matters most
  • Development goal 3: We have working partnerships with our stakeholders
  • Development goal 4: We develop and challenge our people
  • Development goal 5: We have business systems that support us
  • Development goal 6: Lift our leadership and managerial performance

The Ministry has made a lot of good progress during the year towards achieving our goals, and this is evidenced by the great work that we have done. All of our goals are important, however, as a policy ministry, staff capability is critical to our performance. The Ministry is committed to both improving quality of work, the capability of its staff, and lifting leadership skills. Development goals 4 and 6 are particularly critical to our success. In 2010/11 we saw a number of advances in relation to our people, and their performance and development.

Professional Development Programme (PDP)

The PDP was launched in August 2010 for both the Ministry’s policy and business services areas, and is aligned with the capability requirements of the Ministry operating as a professional services organisation. The intention is to retain engaged staff and encourage continuous improvement and high performance.

We have developed and challenged people by establishing deliberate professional development practices, encouraging staff to seek and take up new opportunities and use coaching and mentoring to support staff to fulfil their potential.

The ‘70/20/10 approach’ is used where:

  • 70 percent of a person’s development is gained on the job
  • 20 percent is through coaching and mentoring
  • 10 percent by attending training courses

Crucial to this approach is a group of managers whose role it is to allocate team members to participate in challenging projects and activities, and by coaching their teams. Staff are encouraged to improve skills by learning from colleagues and on the job experience. Also by supported, increased and improved performance coaching and leadership from managers, and mentoring by others.

The PDP considers roles, responsibilities and accountabilities and sets a clear framework for progression through incorporating Lominger competencies and position accountabilities for each role/level. The three main priorities of the PDP are:

  • quality of policy advice
  • project skills
  • coaching and mentoring

Assessment for potential senior advisers

In response to the need for more senior advisers to enable the Ministry to continue to deliver the highest quality policy advice, a pilot programme — Accelerated Senior Adviser Programme (ASAP) — to fast track advisers to senior adviser roles within 6– 12 months was introduced in December 2010.

The pilot identified potential candidates. An assessment profile for the senior adviser role was developed, and a comprehensive development programme created for each successful candidate. This programme is the first step of our future capability development strategy. Two of the seven people on the programme have been promoted to Senior Adviser positions. A review of the programme content, feedback from the participants and the results was undertaken in August 2011.

Performance management

The Ministry uses Sonar6 as its key performance and talent management tool. The system was introduced at the Ministry in 2006 and has been regularly updated to reflect organisational changes since then, with the most recent update being implemented in September 2010.

The system captures an individual’s performance which can be tracked year on year. This provides Ministry-wide analysis of performance and competency levels. This enables rising talent, capability gaps or any performance issues to be identified.

Sonar6 links to Shaping our Future development goal 5: Have business systems that support us.

Gallup Q12 engagement survey

The Ministry participates in the annual Gallup survey to measure staff engagement at work. The goal of the survey is to create a stronger workplace. The Gallup Q12 theory has been incorporated into the way managers are expected to manage their team members, and results have been used as indicators of success for the Shaping our Future development goals.

The survey measures staff engagement at work. Levels of engagement are measured and benchmarked against previous results and other organisations, both nationally and internationally, based on the premise that fully engaged staff perform at a higher level than non-engaged staff. The Ministry has completed three surveys in the past 3 years.

Following the March 2010 results, the Ministry decided to focus its action planning specifically on the first three Gallup Q12 questions:

  • Q1: I know what is expected of me at work
  • Q2: I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  • Q3: At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

Assistance has been provided to managers to plan actions to address these questions. While the Gallup engagement survey results are improving, we are striving to do much better.

The Ministry's Gallup results 2009-11
Year of survey 2011 2010 2009 
Grand mean score  3.83  3.76  3.74 
Satisfaction score  3.33  3.50  3.66 
% level of engagement  33%  27%  23% 
Key people metrics
As at 30 June 2010/11 2009/10 2008/09 
Number of employees       
Policy development  82  90  89 
Management  22  24  30 
Administration  56  59  60 
Total headcount  160  173  179 
Turnover  18%  14%  16% 
Gender       
Women  58%  53%  50% 
Men  42%  47%  50% 
Ethnicity distribution       
NZ European  67%  69%  69% 
NZ Māori  2%  2%  2% 
Pacific Islander  3%  3%  2% 
Asian  7%  5%  7% 
Other European  18%  18%  19% 
Other ethnic groups  3%  3%  1% 
Undeclared  0%  0%  0% 
Sick leave taken - average days for each employee  7 
Age distribution (permanent staff)       
20-29  19%  19%  23% 
30-39  21%  20%  23% 
40-49  33%  31%  27% 
50-59  15%  18%  16% 
60+  12%  12%  11% 


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