The public sector is constantly changing, with the creation of new start-up bodies and the merging and restructuring of departments and agencies. We are all under pressure to prove ourselves, deliver our remit and produce demonstrable improvements that benefit the public and achieve value for money.
Change can create uncertainties in terms of identity, purpose and direction. In the case of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) – which was formed six months ago from two organisations that supported policing IT and training and development – these issues are recognised and addressed by continuing to work with our staff and policing partners to develop clarity of purpose and new ways of working.
I made it clear from the start that the NPIA would have to make some tough decisions to support policing in meeting future challenges. Our policing partners, and the public they serve, rightly expect this new organisation to be different, and not just an amalgam of previous organisations. Our focus as an agency is simple: we are here to improve policing.
Through an agreed commissioning and de-commissioning process, we are reviewing all the products, projects and services we offer to make sure that our effort, expertise and resources are focused where the police service needs them most. To achieve this successfully, we must also change internally to ensure processes, policies and procedures (including those in the human resources field) are in the best possible shape to underpin this delivery. This kind of ‘root-and-branch’ organisational review and change doesn’t happen overnight, and has an impact on everyone.
Gillian Hibberd, corporate director of people and policy at Buckinghamshire County Council, understands our challenges. She recently told us: “Any organisation involved in a merger of this size will have to deal with all the usual headache areas of TUPE and pay and grading reviews, new terms and conditions and the amalgamation of a range of ways of doing things.”
I am personally spending as much time as I can talking and listening to staff through a variety of means, ranging from taking personal e-mails (I get about 30 a week), web chats, drop-in cups of coffee, site visits (both announced and unannounced), using the senior management team to get out more widely and, over the next couple of months, with the chief officer team, engaging every single member of staff in the agency about our future plans and direction and their personal involvement. Picking up the themes from our first staff survey will be a key part of this.
But no-one should pretend this will be easy. Angela O’Connor, chief people officer at the NPIA, and a highly experienced HR professional, echoes my sentiments. She told me recently that she has never had a more challenging or complex job than this one, but that “we’re here because policing matters – and because we care”.
We also recognise that, during this time of organisational change, some colleagues will decide that their future careers lie elsewhere. The NPIA has a large pool of incredibly talented people whose rare skills are extremely attractive to other employers. At a time of change, we are particularly vulnerable to people looking over the fence for other opportunities. This is a reality that those who have experienced major organisational change will recognise. Our success is dependent on having the right people with the right skills, in the right roles, at the right times, at all levels. We have a substantial number of new roles for new NPIA business that I believe will provide very attractive and exciting opportunities for the people working for the NPIA and the police service.
There is still much to be done but, as we continue to build and develop the agency in our first year, my message is clear: the NPIA is bursting with opportunity for talented people who want to apply their skills to support the common goal of the delivery of better policing.
Chief constable & chief executive,
National Policing Improvement Agency