A new challenge for Dawn Hewins
New Director of HR reflects on her first month at Birmingham City Council
“My first interest in BCC came from completing a ‘Wicked Issue’ project for the Transcend Leadership Programme in 2013-14. I worked with four colleagues from other local authorities and we had a fantastic opportunity to interview Councillors and Officers on the topic of ‘Devolution v Localisation’ and also to present our findings to the Localisation Board.
Since then I have attended regional meetings (mainly with WME or IEWM) in BCC buildings and mixed with HR & OD colleagues and the place got a hold of me and drew me in, so I couldn’t believe my luck when a vacancy came up.
The story of BCC has been well publicised and in some respects feels very raw, especially for Human Resources and Children’s Services. However, so much is happening to address the issues that were identified some 12-18 months ago, that things have really moved on. There is a new leadership team in place both on the Councillor and Officer side and there are detailed plans and programmes being implemented across the council.
And as I like to turn negatives into positives, I feel that it is a great time to join the council and a great opportunity to build on these foundations.
The Improvement Board published their latest report on 21 March, which points out there is still much to achieve, under challenging circumstances, but the panel is encouraged by progress and has decided to end its current level of intervention and step back until the autumn.
This decision is welcomed by BCC as it will enable the council to focus even more sharply on continuing the fast pace of sustained change and improvement across the whole organisation. There is still more work to be done and everyone will need to play their part in helping to deliver the best quality services and outcomes for residents.
As much of the findings from previous reviews featured on culture, my priorities and challenges focus around leading transformation and culture change, and include:
setting an example, living by BCC’s Values and Behaviours
- Building confidence and reputation of HR
fixing the basics and gaining respect from the business and partners. As my role involves networking and benchmarking, I will continue to work closely with colleagues at WME as they always offer great support and guidance • Integrated Support Services agile working, making the best use of technology, new ways of working,
promoting digital and self-serve, undertaking lean reviews, understanding demand management
- The Employer Offer
looking at customer journeys and checking if they are as good as they can be, reviewing our policies and procedures
- Workforce Strategy
developing capability and capacity, career development, talent management and succession planning Progress is already under way to improve internal communications and staff engagement. We have a new internal communications strategy in place and are setting up new internal communications channels to ensure better engagement with staff.
Our Values and Behaviour underpinning all that we do
- We put citizens first
We are empathetic and respectful in everything we do
- We are true to our word
When we make promises we keep them
- We act courageously
We lead, we manage and we tackle the difficult issues every day, every one of us
- We achieve excellence
We get things right. First time every time
Making a positive difference every day to people’s lives
So all in all my first month as HR Director at Birmingham City Council has flown by, I started 1 March and it all feels new and exciting – I love it! It is hard work, challenging and varied – one thing for sure is that my 22 years at Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been really good training for this role.”