Weeknote w/c 7 October: the aching legs edition

The Royal Parks Half finally came around yesterday morning and I joined 16,000 other runners for a 13.1 mile jog around Westminster and Hyde Park (nicely timed to avoid the rain). It was a great route and I continue to surprise myself by actually enjoying runs like this. I was delighted to complete the course just inside the 2 hour goal that I’d set for myself (I had 29 seconds to spare!).

I definitely need to work harder on my resilience and determination, but it was great to have a supportive crowd and encouragement from other runners – which was definitely needed when I got to the point where my levels of motivation were dipping.

If you count the Gift Aid, we’ve pretty much hit our fundraising target – a massive thank you to everyone who’s sponsored us! There’s still time to add to that and support the work that Mind do helping to promote positive mental health:  https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=CommunitasTrustRunners&isTeam=true.

Further work to develop our future approach for mobile phones

We’re continuing to work hard to develop the details for our future approach for mobile phones (see previous weeknotes). This week Cate D, Cate M, Paul and I met up with colleagues from a number of services whose teams do field based work (inc housing repairs, parking enforcement, parks and waste) to look into the tricky issue of where there might be a case for continuing to provide corporate devices if we move to an allowance based model for most staff.

My first observation was how valuable it was to have everyone together in the room for this conversation. While I’m a huge advocate of using technology like collaborative documents and video meetings to help with productivity, there are some occasions where there isn’t any substitute for actually being in the room together. This was one of those.

The question we were working through had risked becoming a bit of a tense topic. It was evident that some of our colleagues felt that their concerns weren’t being heard and there was also nuance which would have been hard to work through without being in the same place at the same time. In the end, I think we have boiled this down to a fairly simple set of principles that we should be able to use to determine the right outcome for different service areas. Our next step will be checking that by working through the principles with the different services and seeing how well they fit with our users’ needs.

Making sure that we are recruiting effectively and inclusively

One of the themes that came up in the discussion groups I held recently * was making sure that we are doing everything possible to make our recruitment inclusive. We’ve already implemented changes such as making sure that our adverts don’t use gender specific language and making the application process as simple as possible, but it’s important that we aren’t complacent.

One welcome change that is being implemented across Hackney is introducing applicant blind recruitment. This will mean that hiring managers don’t see details like candidates’ names when they are shortlisting for roles – helping to reduce the risk of unconscious bias in the process. On Thursday I met with colleagues from HR, Matthew and Soraya to look at how this will be implemented and other suggestions for changes that we can make to help us recruit successfully.

I will confess to having been slightly nervous about this. I am very positive about making sure that the recruitment process is supporting our commitment to inclusion, but I was worried that the way that we implement these changes might make it harder for people to apply and risk making it harder to fill vacancies. But the excellent presentation from Soraya and Mark from the recruitment team gave me a lot of confidence that this will be a positive step forward. The conversation included some very useful suggestions for ways that we can update the application process and I’m optimistic that this will work well once it’s implemented (hopefully early in the new calendar year).

Soraya and Mark will be arranging to present a show & tell to share details about the approach so that you can find out more.

* Blog post coming shortly – it was slightly delayed by the change to my plans on Tuesday (see below)…

I also…

  • Chaired the latest meeting of the Member-led Customer Services Steering Group. This was a very positive discussion and we identified some useful work to carry out ahead of the next meeting in November.
  • Had an unexpected day on GOLD duty, taking on the role of overseeing the response to the major floods in the north of the borough (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-49972617). This meant that I had to park everything that I’d planned to do on Tuesday, but once again I was enormously impressed by the work that people across the Council did supporting the many residents who were affected by the incident, including a large number of people whose homes were flooded out.
  • Joined Thursday evening’s Audit Committee meeting, where I gave an update on the work we’ve done in the HackIT team to increase permanent recruitment and reduce our dependency on agency staff.
  • Went to Kim Wright’s leaving do (Kim’s off to be Chief Executive of Lewisham Council). I found it interesting to hear the stories from Hackney’s journey during Kim’s time here and am trying to track down a copy of the ‘How to get the best from Hackney IT’ booklet that she mentioned in her speech (it sounded very entertaining and I’ll share a scanned copy if I can find it…).
  • Took part in a call with colleagues from LOTI to plan a workshop that we’re having in a few weeks time for the assistive technology project.
  • Finished off my week with a mentoring session. I always enjoy these as they’re a good opportunity to learn about work that others are doing and think through challenges together.

Something I’ve learned

I’m rubbish at warming up and down properly after activity like yesterday’s run – I blame my secondary school PE teacher whose obsession with that put me right off. But I did take up the opportunity of a recovery leg massage after finishing yesterday and I’ll definitely do the same again if that’s on offer. It made an enormous difference, as did having ten minutes to lie down during the process!