Regional council review finalised

8 Sep 2015

An organisation-wide review designed to ensure the Northland Regional Council's 160-plus staff are best placed to deliver on councillor and community expectations is largely complete, its CEO says.

Malcolm Nicolson unveiled his final restructure report to staff at a meeting in Whangarei yesterday acknowledging the revamp – first flagged in March – had taken longer than first thought and thanking them for their patience.

He says he had received a "significant number of very thought-provoking submissions from across the organisation, many of which have influenced the final outcome".

"Many of the thoughts and ideas have resulted in changes to the structure originally proposed and others still require further consideration as part of the continuous improvement programme of work that will flow out of this process and which will be embedded in the new management structures and style that follows."

The model unveiled by Mr Nicolson sees the council arranged around four operational groupings, with a fifth 'cross organisational support unit' reporting directly to him as CEO.

He says while council's overall staffing numbers will remain largely unchanged despite the restructure, through a combination of factors the end result of the process will effectively have seen 28 'new' roles created.

"The primary reasons for the adoption of this structure are to provide a greater external focus for the organisation, thereby improving levels of engagement with the communities we serve and align the organisation more closely with Long Term Plan key performance indicators as approved by council."

Mr Nicolson says the four operational groupings – Governance and Strategy, Customer Service/ Community Resilience, Environmental Services and Regulatory Services – will form 'core pillars' through which council provides services to communities.

"The CEO's office will provide the necessary cross organisational support to allow staff to focus on engaging with the communities and tasks they are being asked to perform."

He says over time strengthening that support, coupled with the introduction of new technologies and innovation, will allow staff within operational groupings to spend "a significantly larger proportion of their time on these operational activities and less on administrative tasks".

"This will lift the overall productivity of the organisation and the levels of service we provide."

Mr Nicolson says since March two people had left the organisation "as a direct result of the restructure", with several others leaving outside the restructure process as part of normal staff turnover. (The council's typical annual turnover is about 20 staff.)

"Of the 28 new roles proposed as part of the restructure, five are redeployments, six are internal promotions, five are external appointments, there are eight vacancies still to be filled over the next few months and a final four roles for which funding has yet to be secured."

The eight roles to be filled in the current financial year are a strategy specialist, a customer relations manager, a communications manager, a web designer, a catchment officer, two soil conservation officers and a mobile technology support officer.

Mr Nicolson says 24 of the 28 new positions can be funded from within the council's current budget, leaving just four proposed roles for which budget will need to be considered next year as part of the council's 2016/17 Annual Plan process.

"Those final four proposed positions are an internal auditor, a customer relations business support advisor, a customer relations advisor (tangata whenua) and a governance support officer."

Meanwhile, Mr Nicolson says given some positions have yet to filled, the final cost of the restructure process had yet to be determined, but gave an assurance it would be publicly reported to councillors in future.