I have deliberately allowed a number days to elapse, before writing this, as following the Staff Engagement Event (Support, Health and Well Being) I was delirious with confusion, not around the subject matter, but at the sheer inane, ill advised and misdirected content. I know we (in my team) wanted to give it a chance and went with an open mind, and the pleasant venue and blue skies helped diminish that feeling that I have x, w, and z waiting for me back at the ranch.
However opened minded you are, you always have certain expectations that such a lavish event, with up to 300 people in attendance in one of 4 sessions; taking time out of their pressing duties, would provide something tangible. Particularly as some colleagues must have left very early to get there and there were no biscuits; Mr Graylings ban on ‘hospitality’ in common with so many of his ideas - mean and miserly. The very word Engaging, according to the dictionary is pleasing, attractive and this event was neither pleasing or attractive. I would have thought engaging was by it’s very nature interactive, but no room for questions, just post it notes upon which to write appropriate comments and or raise questions, concerns.
Lets start with our directors attempts to engage what is and always has been a group of people, the majority of whom came into the Service to work with people. There was a bland passing comment about ‘nobody wanted this and I/we did what we could to advise the MoJ/Noms’ before what appeared to be an attempt to account for what her team have been doing since 1.6.2014 and trumpeting the “achievements” that had been secured. The oration was supported by a power point which anyone sitting more than 5 rows away, could not read and she repeatedly apologised in advance for each slide. There was more than a passing nod to JFDI throughout.
We were advised of our purpose, ‘to protect the public, prevent reoffending, reduce harm’ and that we are always accountable. Lots of frothy management-speak about being professional. Interestingly, our clients were mentioned, only in the context of our Core Values, that “people can change”. Our identity was described as “managing offenders in the community and keeping our communities safe.”
So the achievements, I scribbled down those I caught:
A Divisional Hub
A Directory of Services
A Workload Management Tool (the National Tool will be coming to an office near you in the next month.
An Equality and Diversity Committee
A Health and Safety Committee
A Reward and Recognition Committee
Hub Business Partners
NPS Delivery Plan
The Recruitment of 100 new PQF learners, although it was also acknowledged that we do not have “desks”, “work” or “managers” in place to support them.
A Business Risk Register
A HMCTS (Her Majesty Courts Service) Working Group
A Stakeholder Engagement Strategy
Key Processes i.e. Mappa and SFO/ Complaints Team etc
You will be pleased to know that within a year, all these ‘process management systems’ will be in one place. There was the usual smattering of jargon, management-speak, talk of “captive workshops”. Cor blimey, hope that isn’t about control and restraint techniques, but nothing surprises me anymore. The fawning over the achievements was inappropriate, as it is not like there were not blue prints in place for these polices already and the attempt to sound empathic regarding 'no work, desks or managers for newly appointed PQF’s’ was insulting, not least to those PQF’s in attendance.
There I was thinking I came into this job for multiple motives, including:
- To reduce the harm caused by social disadvantage
- To increase the opportunities for people to live better lives
- To advocate, encourage and cajole
- To locate all the decent people, hidden by the air brushed label “offender”
- To help those flawed individuals view themselves and the world around them in terms that meant something to them, and
- To promote personal responsibility
Two Noms colleagues gave a presentation, which I still have no idea as to why? In discussion with others we accepted they were trying to lighten the mood, but effectively alienated everyone by speaking to us like we were a CBBC audience and trivialised the plight of practitioners, by dwelling on the success of the Staff Engagement Survey, missing the point that whilst 42% completed it, 58% didn’t – they later told me their excitement was borne of the response they received to a similar exercise in Noms, where the response was only 9%. Nor was I appeased by their attempts to welcome me into the Noms family amounting to some 900,000 people, I was perfectly happy in my family of 5,000 as a Trust.
Alongside the engagement event was a “market place,” stalls, selling admission to gyms, weight watchers, the Civil Service Club and other organisations to help you stop smoking, check your blood pressure and gauge your susceptibility to diabetes; and other essential numbers, Samaritans etc. There were representatives from a Cycle to Work Scheme and a Fostering and Adoption Service; one colleague referred to the market place initiative as ‘alright, if you wanted to adopt a child or buy a bike’. As for Weight Watchers, I can give my children a fiver a week, and they’ll tell me I’m fat!
Some of that there Bollocks previously referred to and swiftly followed up by more bollocks, in the guise of ‘ORA Training’ – left me feeling that Noms have all the answers, but have no clue as to the questions!
30 years in
STAFF ENGAGEMENT EVENTS
The Pavilions, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate
Thank-you to everyone who attended the events earlier this week (all 1200 of you!)
I understand that there has been a mixed response to the events and we will be sending out an evaluation form in due course to get your feedback. However I do hope that you will appreciate not only the positive intention behind the events, but also the hard work of your colleagues who organised everything. It is no easy task to coordinate an event of that scale.
We are all familiar with the saying “you can’t please everyone all of the time” ... but regrettably, it does seem from some of the feedback I have received that, “you can’t please some people any of the time”!
So … it would be really helpful when providing your feedback if you could be constructive in your comments in order for us to understand how we can improve for any future events.
For those of you who were unable to see the PowerPoint presentation, please find it attached.
I am due to come out to LDUs over the next couple of months on my ‘Back to the Floor’ visits so I look forward to seeing you all then. I would be more than happy to hear your feedback/views on how we can continue to develop the NPS (NE)
Deputy Director NPS (NE)