May 24, 2018

Leadership and professional development

Leadership and professional development

Column by Mark Crawley

Throughout my career I was fortunate to be provided with opportunities to attend conferences and workshops and was encouraged to participate in professional development when it was available, and this helped with planning my local government career. It also required some relocating to different centres to pursue my career goal, and as I look back over those years I truly appreciated those opportunities and words of encouragement from my bosses. There are many fond memories of the communities that I have worked in and the councils that I have worked for.

Then when appointed as CEO it was over to me to provide the encouragement of my staff to make the most of the opportunities that were provided and supported by the councils through the allocation of sufficient funds in the training budgets to encourage and facilitate development of staff.

I always remember the comments between the CFO and CEO where the CFO says to the CEO, “what if we train them and they leave?”, where the CEO immediately responded with “what if we don’t and they stay?”

Staff who have participated in professional development programs usually want to give something back to the organisation based on their experiences from participating in the development opportunities and the learnings they have picked up from the many other participants, usually from other councils.

Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA) – Queensland and Local Government Professionals Australia have a variety of professional development opportunities available to local government employees across the state. LGMA Queensland are also available to assist with individual programs that can be run in-house to assist with personal and professional development and done to benefit a variety of staff from across the organisation.

In local government we are always looking for ways to improve the delivery of service to the ratepayers, residents and visitors to our regions. By participating in the programs on offer, such as the management challenge, local government staff are encouraged to look at different methods of service delivery and approaching tasks and can benefit from learning from others and sharing their own experiences.

Over the past couple of years, the attendance at conferences and professional development opportunities has appeared to be less supported, and this in a time when community expectations of the councils’ performance and service delivery is ever increasing.

Budgets become tighter and unfortunately the allocation of funds for development is one of the first to be looked at and reduced. But shouldn’t the investment in professional development continue? It is here that leadership and professional development are intrinsically linked.

The following were the 10 reasons identified in an article by Alison Carter on 22 February 2018 on the “10 reasons why an investment in professional development is worth every cent” on The Colin James Method website: –

  1. Professional development builds employee confidence
  2. Professional development leads to better employee retention
  3. Professional development makes succession planning much easier
  4. Companies that invest in professional development training are more attractive to job seekers
  5. Professional development training equips employees with highly transferable skills
  6. Professional development training leads to greater productivity and ROI
  7. Highly trained employees mean more satisfied customers
  8. Interpersonal skills (including communication) are becoming increasingly important
  9. Professional development training can lead to a greater sense of empathy
  10. Professional development training can give you a competitive edge

Certain that if leadership is encouraging of the professional development opportunities available within local government then the benefits mentioned above can be realised.

* Former local government chief executive officer Mark Crawley is the managing director of  Mark Crawley Consulting in Townsville

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