Service Synergy Part 3 – Enabling and Empowering People


On October 11th, I wrote an article on Service Synergy – the first in a series of articles on public service integration. I have since written an article on Living Within Our Means.

First, let me state that I am not an expert on leadership or motivation. I’m simply going to write down my personal thoughts on this topic, based on a theme of change within global education portfolios and curricula. I have used John Kotter’s model in the past and find that it works well. There are loads of examples of such practice and you’ll need to find what works for you.

Indeed, being heavily involved in educational change in Scotland, I can base some of this on experience; I recognise that enabling and empowering people is crucial to effective change management and that being sensitive to this issue is the first step in realising successful innovation in education; culture, structure and process.

To be successful you will need your people to be with you. If they are content with the status quo and do not see then need for change, you’ll have real difficulty making it happen. I guess the first step is to identify the drivers for change and the opportunities that can be exploited to bring about better service delivery. This would include honest discussions which stimulate people, both within the service and also with external partners. It is always helpful to establish a sense of urgency at this stage as I find that it tends to increase productivity.

When people ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’ have an answer prepared or better still, tell them before they ask!

From the initial discussions, it’s really important to identify the key players. Who can lead effective change and who has the good ideas? The team needs to be built around the various personalities required for any good team; innovators, finisher completers and all that. Emotional commitment is essential; if everyone has a vested interest then it’s easier to sell ownership. It’s also important that there is a good mix of people from various levels within the organisation. Collaboration is the name of the game and I’ll come back to this later.

A clear and transparent vision is needed to guide educational change. This needs to be specific and should not be vague. From this, an implementation plan needs to be developed; use the key players identified from the initial discussions to help with this.

Perhaps the most important element, which should happen all the time, is communication and engagement. The expected changes need to be modeled and explored with key stakeholders. Any disaffection needs to be addressed immediately; identify concerns, be open, honest and involve those who challenge your vision or implementation plan. Be ambitious but realistic in what you can achieve.

Don’t worry about making mistakes along the way. If you get something wrong, acknowledge it and adapt your structures and procedures accordingly. Move forward but accept that there will be set-backs. When things go wrong, a good leader looks in the mirror, a poor leader looks at the workforce.

Driving the change and making the vision into reality is probably the most difficult stage in empowering people. Success needs to be acknowledged and rewarded; set-backs need to be supported. If someone is not fully engaged, ask them why and talk to them. Listen and where possible use their ideas. Collaboration gives a real sense of ownership and people are more likely to follow you. Being strategic is about being open to everything that is going on. Make sure that your performance management processes support your objectives. I’m going to blog about Delivering Outcomes within the next few weeks and that article will supplement this series on service synergy.

Use your influence rather than your authority and trust people to do their jobs. They are more likely to approach you for support if there are obstacles and barriers to progress if you can do this consistently.

Identify and select easy changes that make a real difference. Short term wins add momentum to your strategic implementation plan. I have found that some kind of consolidation helps to inform change, regular meetings to review progress and to review activity will help to identify potential improvements. Look for ways to bring in more influential people into your team as this can revitalise engagement.

Finally, share successes and praise those who perform well. Some healthy peer competition drives change and enables the workforce to strive for excellence. Be reflective and review your own learning. Challenge yourself and others where there is slippage. Develop and embed your vision into the culture, structure and process of the service and use communication channels such as the intranet and newsletters to publicise progress. Remember to build in quality assurance and continuous improvement processes as this will help you to sustain change.

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Academic Staff University of Glasgow and Author of Science Fiction

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Posted in Curriculum Design
2 comments on “Service Synergy Part 3 – Enabling and Empowering People
  1. I agree that when introducing a new initiative head for the positive wizards around. Energy & enthusiasm are vital but so is a long term picture together with staged plans that are introduced after the ‘first wave’ (almost honeymoon period) People need to be regularly energised until the initiative is fully embedded.

  2. […] Service Synergy Part 3 – Enabling and Empowering People […]

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