During the 2011/12 year, with the professional services approach firmly embedded, the Ministry saw the establishment of a Deputy Chief Executive position and a Business Services Leadership Group.  The Ministry also undertook a review of the shape of policy teams.

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Leadership, governance and the shape of the Ministry

The Ministry’s operation as a professional services Ministry has now embedded so that a flexible matrix way of working is becoming second nature. We are focussed on building our knowledge and expertise to deliver high quality advice and to adapt quickly to meet the demands of the day as well as planning for a sustainable future. By shifting resources to where they are most needed, we have delivered key pieces of work quickly and to the highest standard. And our people are getting opportunities to work on a variety of projects beyond those of their primary team.

This way of working along with the challenge of doing more with less led us in late 2011 to review the shape of our teams, including our leadership structure, for driving the organisation.

The establishment of a Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) position was a first step in strengthening organisational leadership. It was followed by a strengthening of the Financial and Economic Performance group with greater statistical and analytical capability, and the inclusion of the governance roles in this team. A new Strategic Direction and Performance team reporting to the DCE incorporates the Programme Management Office and the strategy and planning functions enabling better integration of these functions.

The establishment of a Business Services Leadership Group led by the Chief Information Officer has provided the framework for a fresh look at how we deliver joined-up, customer focused, cost effective business services.

A review of the shape of the policy teams saw a reduction in the number of principal advisers and an increase in advisers at levels 1 and 2. At the same time we refocused the principal adviser roles to provide a greater level of coaching and leadership of high quality advice. These changes were focussed on getting our cost structure right to ensure we deliver good value for money.

Two new leadership groups – the Policy Leadership Group and Business Services Leadership Group – support the Ministry Leadership Team freeing the latter to focus on the leadership and governance of the Ministry as a whole. These arrangements reflect the need for high levels of collaboration or ‘partnership’ between the Ministry’s leaders to operate in our flexible, matrix structure.

Organisational capability

The environment in which we operate continues to challenge us to find ways to lift productivity, reduce costs and deliver more from the resources we have. Changing the shape of the Ministry, being clear about our role, enhancing our people capability, working smarter and collaboratively all contribute to enabling better public services.

In 2011/12 the Ministry continued its Shaping Our Future organisational capability programme and developed four flagship initiatives as a part of this. These were:

  • creating a shared understanding of our role
  • developing leadership capability
  • improving policy capability, and
  • managing our reputation

Creating a shared understanding of our role

Early in 2012 the Ministry adopted the Peak Performance programme and held workshops with staff and stakeholders to help us understand the Ministry’s purpose and focus. The outcome was clarity about the Ministry’s purpose and role, and a renewed focus to help the Ministry achieve its goals. Shared goals and a clear shared understanding of our role will enable us to work together more effectively at the organisational and sector level.

Developing leadership capability

Lifting our Leadership is a programme that provides an opportunity for managers to reflect on current work practices. Managers are provided with techniques to use resources more effectively and to use their judgment and experience to work through difficult situations. Lifting Our Leadership helps managers to identify what good policy advice and support looks like, and as a result to set clear expectations for staff.

Improving policy capability

While the Ministry’s professional services approach exposes policy staff to a range of policy projects, the Ministry wants to ensure consistent, targeted development is also provided. As a result the Ministry has developed a Policy Adviser Development Programme in partnership with Victoria University. This will result in a recognised qualification for policy advisers providing a solid foundation as quickly as possible in a structured way. Five other government agencies have so far engaged with us on this and the first programme starts in October 2012.

Managing our reputation

The Ministry’s reputation will only be as good as the views of its stakeholders and this is mostly shaped by the nature of the engagement we have with them and the quality of the work that we do. A clear understanding of roles is also key to good working partnerships. While the Ministry works with stakeholders to build an understanding of the Ministry role, responsibilities and relationships with government, we also seek to work better with other transport agencies and the wider transport sector, building an understanding of their interests.

Policy quality metrics

The key measure of policy quality for the Ministry is the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) policy quality review. They undertake similar reviews for a number of agencies and are able to provide comparative data. The Ministry most recently achieved an improved mean score of 7.3 for the quality of its advice papers, a result that compares well to other agency results, and is a significantly improved result for the Ministry.

Delivering high value business services

Business services review

As we looked at the shape of the Ministry, we also looked at how we deliver services internally to our own staff and have made some changes.

We established the Business Services Leadership Group in October 2011. The new business services model is about looking at our services and support to Ministry staff in a horizontal way across functional lines and seeing the linkages and making the most of these. This is making it easier to provide more effective induction, business system training, support for ministerial servicing and general support. We have also designed our business model to ensure the time of our specialists is spent in providing specialist services and advice, and is not pulled into lower level work which generalist staff can do.

We are now providing business services in a more integrated way, and with fewer staff.

Shared business services across the transport sector

The Ministry along with the NZ Transport Agency, Maritime NZ, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission established a joint initiative in February 2012 to develop a shared services programme. A Steering Group reporting to the joint Chief Executives has been set up and is developing a new way of working to deliver shared business services – whether systems, capability or processes – where it is sensible to do so.

A prioritised programme of work seeks to deliver the following goals:

  • increased agility and responsiveness
  • improved efficiency and delivery of maximum value for money
  • improved organisational and sector knowledge
  • enabling our people to work more effectively with customers and stakeholders

We already have some early achievements and are poised to develop business cases for some more substantive initiatives.

Business Services metrics

The Ministry is a voluntary participant in the Better Administrative and Support Services (BASS) review. As a small agency our benchmarked costs tend to be at the upper end for a number of services. However, offsetting that, we are showing good levels of performance across the quality measures.

The 2011/12 BASS exercise is yet to be undertaken and we are expecting our results to improve as we have undertaken a number of efficiency measures over the year.

Engagement of staff

Gallup 2012 engagement survey

The Ministry’s key staff engagement measure is an annual Gallup survey. The goal of engagement is to create a stronger workplace.

We now have four years of data and are trending upwards at a steady pace.

Results for 2012 show that overall, staff engagement has increased although not significantly. Satisfaction with the Ministry as a place to work has had a meaningful improvement over last year.

The Ministry’s score is at the 59th percentile of the New Zealand state sector Gallup grand mean, and at the 64th percentile of the world-wide public administration grand mean.

Our people profile

As we continue to deliver more for less our headcount has reduced to 146. In doing this, we have maintained a consistent level of policy staff but reduced the number of managers and administrative staff.

The Ministry's Gallup results 2009-2012
 2012 2011 2010 2009 
Grand mean score  3.86  3.83  3.76  3.74 
Satisfaction of score  3.47  3.33  3.50  3.66 
% level of engagement  36  33  27  23 
Key people metrics
 As at 30 June2011/12 2010/11 2009/10 2008/09 
Number of employees         
Policy development  89  82  90  89 
Management 21 22 24  30 
Administration  36  56  59  60 
Total headcount 146  160  173  179 
Turnover  15%  18%  14%  16% 
Women  53%  58%  53%  50% 
Men 47%  42%  47%  50% 
Ethnicity distribution         
NZ European  73%  67%  69%  69% 
NZ Maori  1%  2%  2%  2% 
Pacific Islander  3%  3%  3%  2% 
Asian 6%  7%  5%  7% 
Other European  14%  18%  18%  19% 
Other ethnic groups  3%  3%  3%  1% 
Undeclared  0%  0%  0%  0% 
Sick leave taken - average days for each employee 
Age distribution (permanent staff)         
20-29  24%  19%  19%  23% 
30-39  22%  21%  20%  23% 
40-49 27%  33%  31%  27% 
50-59 16%  15%  18%  16% 
60+  12%  12%  12%  11% 

Contracted services

Where the Ministry does not have the capacity or capability to undertake components of particular initiatives, it contracts in expertise. The Ministry applies standard public service procurement policies in doing this. The Ministry also uses preferred supplier contracts and participates in the All of Government procurement frameworks as these are developed and current contractual arrangements expire or can be transferred. 

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