Assessing and improving staff management

A previous report on the Central Goldfields Shire Council investigation, released in August 2017, has prompted enquiries from councils about various aspects of mismanagement uncovered in that investigation. In this edition we discuss the implications of inadequate staff management practices for councils.

Effective staff management is fundamental to the operation of any organisation including councils. It is important for councils to manage employees and external contractors and ensure that procedures and policies are in place, up to date and followed.

In the Central Goldfields Shire Council investigation, mismanagement was uncovered in several areas, including unadopted, incomplete or non-existent policies relating to human resource activities. Where there were policies in place, they were routinely ignored. This allowed for risk issues such as conflicting duties for staff with secondary employment and situations of no separation of duties between ordering work, engaging contractors and approving invoices to be common. In one case, the Inspectorate found that a council departmental manager had submitted private invoices to council for work that was, in effect, part of their role as a council employee.

Another departmental manager approved invoices for their spouse for work carried out at a council facility. These and many more examples demonstrated a lack of internal controls and human resource oversight at council.

The investigation also revealed an inadequate performance management framework where many staff had not participated in any structured performance appraisals for two years or longer. In the Inspectorate’s view, the culture of the organisation and the morale of staff were adversely affected by this under investment in their people.

The Inspectorate encourages councils to look at their own organisation to see if there are warning signs and as a guide provides a simple checklist (download it below) as a start point to look at people management in their organisation.

Checklist for assessing and improving staff management Checklist for assessing and improving staff managementPDF (153.09 KB)