Headlines: November 1st, 2007

Senior managers in local government admit they are struggling to manage conflicting priorities. But research from the Chartered Management Institute reveals that managers and leaders in the sector are highly motivated although they worry that the challenges they face will affect their ability to perform.

The research shows that 92 per cent of senior managers in the local government sector grapple with the challenge of ‘prioritising work’. Two-thirds claim to have ‘little time to think’ and 60 per cent also say they struggle to find ‘time for strategic planning’. Only 5 in 10 in the sector find it easy to make time for their staff, while a similar proportion, 51 per cent, are diverted by internal politics.

The research questions probed deeper to find out how time was being spent. The organisational culture of ‘meeting overload’ emerged as the prime consumer of time and energy and this was highlighted by 58 per cent of respondents. Some 44 per cent also said that ‘meeting preparation time’ diverts too much attention.

One of the effects of the heavy workload is that there is little time to think about the future, nor is there much time for professional training and development. Innovation is also low on the agenda with only 16 percent believing that innovation is a challenge for local government.

Human resource management emerged as a low priority across the sector. Although in spite of 81 per cent of organisations struggling to recruit the best candidates, only 1 in 3 respondents claimed that internal talent management is important to their employer and just 35 per cent agreed with the statement that they ‘understand how their career will progress’.

Reacting to the findings, the Chartered Management Institute has created a freely downloadable resource to help individuals juggle priorities and manage more effectively. A series of management checklists, diagnostic tools and general advice is available at the CMI website. http://www.managers.org.uk/howdoyou.