Ready, Steady, Go

Mark RogersSo, hello to all my new colleagues!

Day one, week one, blog one.

I’ve done a fair amount of thinking about what to say in this inaugural blog and, eventually, I concluded that I would focus on three things – why Birmingham; some of my “back story”; and something about what makes me tick.

Why Birmingham? Well, it stems from a desire to work with great people, in a great city, on a truly exciting, albeit very challenging, set of agendas. Why wouldn’t I want to come to a place where there are so many opportunities to make a positive difference and, at the same time, be stretched professionally. I could add to this short list, but the central point I want to make is that what Birmingham is, and what Birmingham can become are powerful attractions – and, with residents, the elected members and you, I really want to be part of the City’s next phase of achievements.

March 3 calendar pageAs for the Mark Rogers’ story so far, an abridged version of my history is over on the About tab – and I’ll add to this from time to time, especially if anyone is interested in knowing more about my past exploits.

On the “what makes me tick front”, this is where I want to be a little more expansive. At the risk of getting an early reputation for pretension and conceit, I’m someone who wants to make a positive difference to people’s lives in the communities we serve, and work among people who are similarly motivated.

I believe lives come before services and that, in entering public service, our professional skills, knowledge, understanding and experiences exist to be developed and deployed to the benefit of the communities we serve. I was proud to be a teacher and I am proud to be a local government officer – but that pride comes not from being a professional per se, but from using whatever expertise it is that I have to help others fulfil their potential and for all our communities to flourish.

I also value “great behaviours”. In my last job I came to rate very highly such key human characteristics as openness, honesty, approachability and keeping promises. On top of this, I consider that showing respect is essential to the building of trust – without which very little is achieved in the first place, nor sustained into the longer term.

And I’ve never believed that these are traits expected solely of the leadership and management. Rather, I look to an organisation where it is everyone’s desire and responsibility (our collective leadership task if you like) to commit to this kind of values-based approach to doing business. The Chief Executive can lead by example, but truly to make a positive difference to people’s lives we all need to unite under this common purpose and create and sustain a culture that has humility and service of others at its heart.

Now, maybe this wasn’t the inaugural blog you were expecting? Indeed, I had considered whether or not to begin by describing my commitment to the delivery of the administration’s key priorities of a prosperous, fair and democratic Birmingham; how I intend to work in a fair and even-handed way with all the political groups in the Council; and outlining how I might guide, support and challenge the whole staff team to make the most difference it can to improving outcomes. And, in due course, I will indeed cover this rich and very important subject matter.

But, and it is a very important but, I decided that it was important to begin by trying to give you as much of a sense as I could about the kind of person I am and, therefore, what sort of expectations I have of the way we, the staff team, do business with, and on behalf of the communities we serve – and, not forgetting, with each other too.

And, in case you think that I might come from another planet where, for example, cuts don’t exist, fear not; I am from the real world and I do understand just how challenging times are (and are going to continue to be) which is why I put culture – and the values and behaviours that define a positive culture – at the top of my list of things to blog about.

Finally, whilst I may not be visible to all of you all of the time, I am aiming to ensure a presence across our organisation that can only be achieved by having a shared commitment to being empathetic and doing the right things, for the right reasons, right first time for our communities.

Best wishes,

Mark

PS I have set myself the (possibly unrealistic) expectation of writing something fortnightly. To help the flow, you might want to suggest topics for me to cover. Send your suggestions via the comments box below.

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Posted on March 3, 2014, in Blog. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Howard Woolfenden

    Welcome Mark
    So pleased for Birmingham’s Children and Families you have joined us.

    Howard Woolfenden
    Assistant Director
    West and Central

  2. Makhdoom Chishti

    I welcome your first day in Birmingham and appreciate your blog, I am really moved by your one of the stenance “I’m someone who wants to make a positive difference to people’s lives in the communities we serve, and work among people who are similarly motivated.”

    I feel that this is what was missing in Birmingham. People who are working with BCC are great and they need lift up adn valued.

  3. Thank you for this. I am a local MP and I have been asking for information from the council about various issues relating to housing and finance. However, there have been real difficulties getting that information. How best should I go about trying to get it?

    • Mr Hemming, Mark will be responding to comments and questions and this comment will be passed onto him. As you will appreciate, today is his first day but he will reply in due course.

  4. Hi Mark. Welcome to Birmingham City Council. Despite the current climate its still a great place to work & care for people who need our support. I like your comments regarding behaviours, and the value based approch you have outlined above. These values are even more important now, especially as our service (specialist Care Services) is due to move to a potenial co-operative. Good luck for the future. Hope you can find a slot in your busy diary to come along & meet the service users & staff at Hockley Skills Development Centre.

  5. Mark,
    I read your first blog and it filled me with hope. I am leaving the Council, but your values based approach, putting respect and people first, seems much needed. I wish you well and know that staff in the Council will benefit if you see fit to try to ensure that they are all treated as the most valuable asset the organisation has.
    Zen Kyle
    Senior Workplace Counsellor Staffcare

  6. Welcome to Birmingham, wishing you all the very best in your new job. It was great to read your blog and I hope that somewhere in your busy schedule you will find time to visit our vibrant community project that supports schools and residents in one of the most disadvantaged ares ob Birmingham.

  7. Hello Mark, on behalf of the Birmingham Supporting People Citizens’ Panel, may I extend the warmest of welcomes to our city. I am the elected chair of the panel, which is part of the governance structure of the Supporting People Programme. Panel membership is extremely diverse and representative of the spectrum of vulnerabilities within the city.Panel membership is exclusively made up of service user representatives The panel particularly notes your commitment to our most vulnerable citizens, a sentiment that we share with you and that sits at the heart of our function. If we can be of any assistance in helping you to get orientated, we will be pleased to share our expertise and experience with you.
    You will be most welcome to attend a Citizens’ Panel meeting at any point in the future-you’re also welcome to request an agenda item if it would be helpful in your duties.

  8. Thanks Mark and welcome – these values and behaviours certainly provide a timely challenge to all of us: “…openness, honesty, approachability and keeping promises…showing respect…trust…a culture that has humility and service of others at its heart.”
    Tony Smith
    Corporate Strategy, Economy Directorate

  9. Welcome to Birmingham Mark. Our paths crossed a year or so ago when we created the homelessness education DVD and pack for Solihull Council. I really like the values approach and would love for you to see the work that we do at Loudmouth to engender positive values with young people whilst teaching about key issues they may face. Good luck in the new role.

  10. Kristin Sanders

    I am the chair of Parent Views Count, a parent led charity which represents the views of parents of children with SEN & disabilities at a strategic level. Since 2006 our organisation has been working in partnership with the LA to build better relationships between services and parents and improve and create opportunities for CYP with disabilities and their families. Under the previous Chief Executive the Children’s Trust Board was dissolved and organisations such as ours were no longer invited to attend stakeholders meetings. This is a missed opportunity for officers and councillors to gain insight into issues and consider the views of service users. I hope that you uphold your commitment to working with residents. We would welcome an opportunity to meet with you.

  11. Kevin Hamilton

    From Advance Enablement and Community Hub

    Welcome Mark.

    I hope your experience with Birmingham will be a productive one. I am sure there will be challenges ahead but, as already expressed, this is a great opportunity for you to make a difference. I am sure you have a very busy schedule but you are very welcome to visit us.

    Kevin Hamilton Andy Sheard
    Best Leader Best Leader

  12. Welcome. 20 years ago I arrived here and soon appreciated that Brum bluntness lacked pretension and shielded integrity. I witnessed nothing as socially cohesive as the regional accent and I still brag about how everyone says’ thank you’ to the bus drivers. I worked for BCC and found it too big to fathom and too small to sustain professional difference. Innovation was easily extinguished eroding the sparkle of many inspiring employees. Seek them out. Build on their potential. Instill in BCC the confidence to ‘find it here’ and jettison that second city “we’ll have what they are having”. There are thousands of diamonds in the dirt initiatives here to celebrate and replicate. Get your agile workers out to unearth them. Ours has set up the ONLY specialist childcare provision in this city which we intend to duplicate across the quadrants. Families with disabled children want parity of access to work. This desire is about to fuel a Europe wide charter for equitable avenues to employment through ESF support for appropriate childcare. The business case polishes up shiny. Your endorsement would be warmly embraced by Dens of Equality.

  13. Welcome to Birmingham Mark – it is a great city with wonderful people, kind, welcoming and tolerant – the best. I am sure you will prove to be an exceptional Chief Exec. Best Wishes Pat Hughes, Director, F.H. Warden (Steel) Ltd. (a local company well over 100 years old).

  14. Welcome to your new role Mark. We will be watching with interest and look forward to supporting you in making improvements as required.

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