Helen Gerrard, MG Corporation Board Director (2012), explains how MG Corporation is governed She talks about how it’s changed over time and how it represents different groups through the Dawang Council “Wi...
- 01 Understanding governance
- 02 Culture and governance
- 03 Getting Started
- 04 Leadership
05 Governing the organisation
- 5.0 Governing the organisation
- 5.1 Roles, responsibilities and rights of a governing body
- 5.2 Accountability: what is it, to whom and how?
- 5.3 Decision making by the governing body
- 5.4 Governing finances and resources
- 5.5 Communicating
- 5.6 Future planning
- 5.7 Building capacity and confidence for governing bodies
- 5.8 Case Studies
- 06 Rules and policies
- 07 Management and staff
08 Disputes and complaints
- 8.0 Disputes and complaints
- 8.1 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous approaches
- 8.2 Core principles and skills for dispute and complaint resolution
- 8.3 Disputes and complaints about governance
- 8.4 Your members: Dealing with disputes and complaints
- 8.5 Organisations: dealing with internal disputes and complaints
- 8.6 Practical guidelines and approaches
- 8.7 Case Studies
- 09 Governance for nation rebuilding
- Governance Stories
- Useful links
- Preview new Toolkit
7.3 Managing staff
It is your staff members who make things happen. Having staff members who are skilled, competent and trusted is an essential part of any organisation’s success.
It is not much use having a strong effective governing body and an experienced manager, if your staff members cannot do their jobs.
A high staff turnover can have many causes. It can be a warning sign of problems in management, poor governance, low staff morale, too much work pressure, conflict among staff, or a lack of career pathways and support.
The effective management of staff is a challenging job.
7.3.1 Staff responsibilities and rights
Along with their job functions and responsibilities, staff members also have rights and interests that are not all simply about legal matters or contractual conditions.
An organisation is only as good as its people. To have effective staff members with high morale, an organisation must make sure that staff members know where they fit, are respected and feel secure.
Know where they fit
Enabling staff to fulfil their roles means ensuring they are effectively managed and supported, have a framework of policies and values to work within, and have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs.
- having written HR policies, systems and rules in place and easily available to staff members so there is clarity around what everyone’s job is and what’s expected of them. See Topic 6 for more information
- having clear position descriptions for all your staff members. Make sure to include information about the term of their employment, specific responsibilities, relevant codes of conduct and cultural policies
- carrying out annual performance reviews with all staff members (individually and collectively) and reporting on this to the governing body. You should have a performance review policy, and ensure it is understood by staff and applied consistently
- developing a staff code of conduct that clearly outlines expected standards of behaviour and shared values. It creates a clear set of unambiguous expectations for actions in the workplace. Staff members should be able to contribute to and provide feedback on a staff code of conduct
- inspiring by doing. If the governing body and managers live by the policies and rules, then so will their staff members.
In some organisations, the governing body develops a code of conduct that also includes managers and staff, so there is a shared commitment to overarching guiding principles of behaviour. This is a great example from the Anindilyakwa Land Council.
7.3.2 Build a strong internal culture
Having a strong internal culture of shared values, behaviours and standards within your organisation has been shown to significantly enhance individual and collective contribution and the shared commitment to its strategic vision and goals.
It takes time to build such an organisational culture and this needs to be given attention by management and the governing body.
But there are some very practical things you can do to make headway and give a strong message to everyone in the organisation about the style of governance, values, behaviours and working relationships you are trying to build.
There are some practical ways to start building the internal culture of your organisation. Use this resource to start a collective discussion in your organisation.
7.3.3 Share the decision making?
In many organisations, the governing body and management make all the decisions. But there are benefits to sharing decision making with staff.
Increasingly, organisations want to draw on the experience, insights and talents of all their staff in order to make the best decisions they can.
How much they share decision making depends on the issue.
Sometimes managers seek staff input, but make the actual decision themselves (as they are ultimately accountable to the governing body).
In other situations, management may hand over the decision making about a particular matter to the staff members.
In all cases, shared or delegated decisions should be informed by a policy framework and actions should be routinely reported back to the governing body.
Decisions to do with the governing body or internal discipline should have little or no staff input.
Many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations are exploring ways to draw on all their staff knowledge, experience and ideas in order to make informed, credible decisions. Here are some tips from what they have tried.
- Regularity: Make staff consultation the standard rather than the exception. Engage staff in consensus building about issues when they are complex, and when their knowledge and expertise have the potential to boost the quality of the decisions.
- Early engagement: Involve staff in discussions at an early stage, rather than when a decision is all but made. Engage them in defining the problem, brainstorming possible solutions, assessing the risks, and choosing the best one.
- Clarity: At the outset clarify whether staff input is advisory or binding, and where staff input fits with respect to that of wider community members.
- Openness: Allow staff to raise valid concerns. Demonstrate a desire to learn and discuss issues, and a readiness to make changes based on sound decisions.
- Broad representation: Ensure that you hear not only from the ‘talkers’ (those who often dominate discussions) and the ‘biased’ (those who always express a personal ‘position’), but also from the ‘thinkers’ (quiet and insightful individuals, whose knowledge and ideas are often ignored).
- Efficiency: There are times to consult and there are times to get on with it. The desire to accommodate every view and hear everyone is laudable, but an effective manager knows when to stop ‘the talking’ and begin ‘the doing’.
- Follow-up: Integrate informed staff input into your decision making. But if you decide not to implement the group’s consensus or parts of it, let them know why, while expressing appreciation for their input. This is essential for team-building and morale.
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