Newham’s people development helps it go to the top of the class

Staff development
has played a key role in helping the London Borough of Newham improve the
delivery of its services, delegates were told at the CIPD conference.

Dr Ita O’Donovan, formerly
assistant chief executive at Newham, responsible for strategic human resources,
said that the council decided it wanted to achieve "best in class"
public services following the election of a new council leader.

To help it achieve this, it took part in a
three-year Best Value programme which involved a review of all the councils
services, aimed at providing a 10 per cent improvement in services and a 5 per
cent reduction in costs.

In the first year alone, 28 services were reviewed
and £3m was saved as a
result.  

This money was invested in
developing staff and engaging them with the council’s commitment to drive up
services.

More than 100 senior managers
were given training to help them improve their benchmarking skills and to
encourage them to think more creatively.

O’Donovan said that middle
managers are also being trained to help them communicate to all staff the
skills, abilities and behaviours valued by the council.

Front-line staff have been
encouraged to achieve Institute of Customer Service awards to help to improve
the council’s customer interface.

Research shows that the council
has made substantial improvements in how the public perceives it across a wide
range of services including refuse collection, street cleaning, libraries,
nursery education and public transport.

Newham has also won the 2000
Local Government Chronicle Council of the Year award.

By Ben Willmott

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