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Part Four: People Development

Leadership and Workforce Development

How well does the agency develop its workforce (including its leadership)?

How well does the agency anticipate and respond to future capacity and capability requirements?

Performance Rating: Needing development need development - big.

Management of People Performance

How well does the agency encourage high performance and continuous improvement amongst its workforce?

How well does the agency deal with poor or inadequate performance?

Performance Rating: Well placed well placed - big.

Engagement with Staff

How well does the agency manage its employee relations?

How well does the agency develop and maintain a diverse, highly committed and engaged workforce?

Performance Rating: Well placed well placed - big.

The Education NZ People Strategy 2015-2018 sets the direction for people and leadership development. The document is currently in draft form and has four goals:

  • Planning and resourcing
  • Employee engagement and performance improvement
  • Developing people
  • Recognition and reward.

The document links the goals through the values to Education NZ’s four core business goals and objectives. The strategy aims to give:

  • A shared sense of direction and purpose for our people and a way to measure performance
  • A tool to help integrate people commitments into business planning, policy and strategy
  • An HR/OD framework for supporting commitments to attract, engage, perform, develop, reward and recognise our people.

The People Strategy in its current form is a short term development focused, business as usual plan. The HR/OD Operating Environment as set out in the plan could be developed to include a future focus. Currently the Education NZ story sets out under a series of helpful headings where Education NZ was in 2012 and where it is now in 2015. It would be a good exercise once a clearer strategic direction is in place to expand the story to include a section on the future and what success might look like in 2018.

The draft People Strategy does not set out medium to long term plans and initiatives for the future challenges facing Education NZ. A plan with a stated four-year time horizon would usually include elements such as organisation redesign, strategic resource planning, capability gap assessment and succession planning. These elements are equally important for smaller agencies with a longer term operating horizon as they are for larger agencies and of great importance to entities operating in a global context. Given the broadening focus and performance challenge facing Education NZ it will be important to develop and align the relevant longer term HR initiatives in conjunction with the design of the expanded operating model.

As a relatively small agency with a total staff of 88 spread across 18 different international locations, workforce planning is critical. This is particularly so considering that there are some locations where there is only one or two staff members which brings additional risks including capability risk. Generally organisations with offshore staff have minimum staffing level policies. Tourism NZ for example has a three to four staff minimum policy. To mitigate this risk in part Education NZ co-locates where possible with other New Zealand agencies. We heard comment from staff and institutions that the staffing of offshore offices may be a concern from a capability and coverage perspective and would benefit from review.

Education NZ promotes the 70/20/10 learning approach where 70% of learning happens on the job, 20% from feedback and coaching and 10% from formal ‘classroom’ training. The types of initiatives included have been acknowledged by staff as being valuable, particularly the secondments and offshore visits. There is a comprehensive annual learning and tracking process in place for all staff which documents development initiatives.

A range of training and development initiatives are available for staff that range from mentoring and coaching to formal academic study. Staff report a high degree of satisfaction with learning and development opportunities generally.

The performance management process is well documented and well accepted. Individual objectives link to business unit plans and the Education NZ Business Plan which links to the Leadership Statement Goals. Strong processes exist around poor performance.

Engagement is an important employee linkage tool and Education NZ leadership and the HR team have placed considerable effort and focus on improving staff engagement over the last few years. Issues arising from the survey either have or are in the process of being addressed and have action plans attached to them. As a result staff engagement continues to build and has increased from 67.5% in 2013 to 72% for performance (satisfaction) index and 77.4% for the engagement index in 2015. This places Education NZ in the top quartile of government agencies and puts it in a strong position from which to launch an organisation development change agenda. It will be important then to expand beyond standard retrospective HR metrics such as turnover, engagement and performance to include forward looking metrics based on the value proposition and strategy work. Measuring and assessing interdependant leadership capability would be an example.

Education NZ has 88 permanent staff and contractors. Female staff make up 67% of the total and are well represented in management roles. Of the staff based in Wellington 32% are from a non-European background. This ethnic diversity continues to provide good access to a mixture of cross cultural knowledge, language and networks alongside offshore staff. This profile reflects a good diverse mix of talent up to management level though the leadership level remains predominantly New Zealand/European male. The Chief Executive and the Board may wish to review the talent list at level three to ascertain if there is a diverse pipeline of talent being developed for future level one and two roles and develop interventions as required.

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