Karin, Zerna, 2015
PAHRODF Case Studies
Results Story 6: Change Management
Developing Competencies and Influencing Bureaucracy
Competent public servants – this is ultimately what the Civil Service Commission (CSC) is after. With the support of the commission and other key agencies, Regional Director Karin Zerna who has been with the commission for almost 22 years, believes this is achievable.
Perhaps this was not so years back. The commission then wasn’t even aware of what it needed to work and improve on. With the Civil Service Commission officials and employees as proponents and the Philippines Australian Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility’s (PAHRODF) invaluable assistance however, the commission has been able to identify what it lacks, enabling them to create a roadmap towards this dream of capacitating public servants.
“We consider the entry of PAHRODF to the commission as a blessing, because for so long, we‘ve been so focused on the technical aspects of our job, we did not focus on developing ourselves also. It helps a lot that we are being developed, because we are also helping to develop the competencies of the whole bureaucracy,” she shares.
The building blocks
Explaining the four-stage intervention offered by the Facility, Director Zerna says, “I think I should start from the beginning. Before the interventions were given, we were subjected to an organisational assessment. Lots of gaps were discovered, and so intervention started with the 3rd level regional directors and assistant regional directors, all the way down to the division chiefs. Currently, we are also giving the intervention to the lower level technical personnel.”
Director Zerna likewise sought to fill her own "gaps" by setting her personal goal as well. “To be more competent on the job and be able to accomplish the goals and mission of the commission, and to ensure that Region 7 delivers on all its targets.”
Began in 2011, the on-going intervention covers four “disciplines of execution”. The first dealt with coaching; the second tackled change management, organisational development and appreciative inquiry; the third was on leadership and coaching brand; the fourth and still to implemented, will focus on another aspect of managing change. The common aim of the intervention was to develop the agency focus and competence to meet, deliver and accomplish all the agency goals. In particular, this touched on positively influencing the bureaucracy to adopt the change initiatives and the strategic performance management system of the commission especially in view of the programme to institutionalise meritocracy and excellence in human resource management (PRIME HRM). After the intervention, employees seemed noticeably more focused, more conscious of the fact that before they go out, they have to prepare well and learn how to deal with other government agencies better.
In the course of all these interventions, the alliances formed with the different partners – PAHRODF, the LSPs and the various agencies have been happy ones. Director Zerna describes her experience with PAHRODF as “liberating”, and the Learning Service Providers as “the best in their field”. PAHRODF, from the onset, made it clear that they were there to provide support/help that was needed for everyone in the commission to be competent, and for these learnings to be cascaded down to the whole bureaucracy. They emphasised that the Civil Service Commission is the central human resource agency of the government, and that it can really do a lot in terms of government services. As a result, the employees feel confident about what they are doing, and this shows in the way they deal with their client agencies and other government employees. As for the agency stakeholders, they are now aware that the CSC has certain initiatives that are on-going, and they now see them as an agency they can turn to with the needed competence to help them out.
Taking off from their 2012 strategic objective (after the third intervention) to build and strengthen partnerships, Director Zerna could not help but also zero in on an area she too felt she needed to boost – partnership building. Her Re-entry Action Plan (REAP), a plan designed to apply her learnings to gaps in the organisation, focused on the creation of a Multi-Sectorial Government Council (MSGC) which not only answers her own personal goal of improving her weak spot based on her competency assessment, but also the commission’s need to inform and engage key agencies.
She further points out that because of the many changes in initiatives that are being implemented, it has become necessary for the commission to attend to people’s readiness to embrace these changes. “We need to help our employees embrace the changes that are happening, and those changes are happening all at the same time.”
Having the MSGC in place, according to Director Zerna, enables the Commission to tap the services of individuals and groups that could help the agency meet its targets and convince other government agencies to accept the change initiatives. “I also involved my staff, because they have a regional division that is in charge of liaising with other government agencies and the private sector,” she explains.
In implementing her REAP, Director Zerna happily shares that this was relatively easy and she was able to do so within a month after the intervention, especially with no real obstacles standing in her way. “In the implementation of the REAP, there was really no problem in so far as identification of who would be invited to be members of our MSGC. All we needed was to send out invitations, prepare the agenda and we made sure that we introduced what CSC is all about to all our potential members of MSGC.”
The only niggling point, she reveals, is getting all members of the MSGC to attend all the meetings. “We cannot expect all the members to have perfect attendance in all our meetings. We only set four meetings in a year but we cannot expect all of them to have perfect attendance.” To resolve this, they have asked for members to identify their permanent representatives to attend in their stead when necessary.
Apart from this, she is left with simple coordinating issues with partner agencies which do not seem too much of a hurdle at this time. A case in point is when a proposal was made to DILG to ask them to help monitor the implementation of CSC decisions. While DILG’s regional director had no problems supporting the CSC, a request was made to ask the CSC to formally ask that DILG assist in the implementation. “We have reported this to the Commission and this has been addressed,” she adds.
Supporting change initiatives
With the MSGC’s presence, Director Zerna is hopeful that they will get more support for the CSC, especially with what they have committed to deliver within the year. To illustrate, she mentions how CSC’s accomplishments don’t seem to be picked up or noticed by media. “Not all our activities find its way to the news. CSC is not controversial. So we asked the media personalities whom we invited and who have agreed to be members of MSGC to help us with features about CSC and what we are doing, especially the change initiatives we are implementing.”
Director Zerna also does not hide the fact that she is banking on the full support of the different government agencies invited to the MSGC. “Whatever their mandate is, they can help us in wherever they can support our efforts and our targets.” Citing an example, she talks about the strategic performance management system that all government agencies are supposed to adapt. “We have a target of 100%, by 2014. But not all local government units are ready for it. So we have to present our programme to the DILG regional director and we expect them to support our programme.”
She notes though that positive reactions have already been received from Regions 3 and 7. Through a resolution by its regional development council, Region 3 has adopted the strategic performance management system in all the agencies within its jurisdiction. Region 7 is even more encouraging. By supporting CSC’s anti-red tape campaign, she believes that this will prepare the agencies for the forthcoming report card survey and DILG’S Good Governance Award.
On the whole, Director Zerna relates that the PAHRODF interventions have helped the commission immensely. Employees of the commission have already been developed and have gained the necessary competencies. The gaps discovered in 2010-2011 are constantly being addressed. Achieving the commission’s goal of developing credible and competent servants translates into the accomplishment of their ultimate target - to be recognised as the centre of excellence for strategic HR & OD.