It’s nearly time to say goodbye to 2020 (insert sigh of relief here) and with a new year on the horizon, now is the perfect time to start thinking about pursuing career goals that you may have been forced to put on hold.
Here we explore 10 things you can do to help you reach your career goals in 2021 and beyond.
Knowing yourself is a vital first step in planning how you will identify and achieve your career goals. Consider your strengths and weaknesses, your values and interests and ask yourself how these align to your career goals.
When it comes to making big decisions on your career direction, you should always consider the reasons behind ‘why’ you are pursuing this. Are you looking for a better work-life balance, seeking to increase your financial opportunities or looking for more responsibility and authority to make decisions and make a change? Whatever your reasons may be, make sure you understand how your own interests and values can play into your career journey.
You may have a good idea of where you want to be in 1 year or 5 years, but actually reaching your ‘big’ career goals can be daunting and leave you unsure where to begin.
Once you know where you want to be in your career, you can break down what you want to achieve into smaller, more manageable goals and milestones. This can be simple things from; researching opportunities and roles, freshening up your resume, tracking down proof of learning and training or even just updating your Linked In profile.
You may find it very helpful to make a list of things that will act as steppingstones in your career path, as well as noting any possible obstacles to overcome.
Finally, once you have broken down your bigger goals into more manageable steps, it’s time to take action on them. Be accountable to yourself here, flag reminders in your calendar, leave yourself a sticky note or plan a way to reward yourself upon completion of a goal.
Once you have an idea of what you would like to achieve and how you will do so, consulting with a mentor can give you valuable perspective and insight. A mentor is someone whose opinion and knowledge you value and is preferably someone who has a greater level of experience in your areas of interest.
Ask your mentor for their input on your career goals – they are sure to have insight on how they went about their own career journey and overcame obstacles. Hindsight is always a teacher and being able to learn indirectly from the mistakes and successes of a mentor is valuable in approaching a career move.
If you don’t yet have a mentor, there are several ways you can go about entering into this mutually beneficial arrangement. Some organisations and government departments will offer internal mentoring programs, so be sure to enquire with your HR representative or manager. You can also take part in the IPAA SA Mentorship Program, which will pair you with an experienced leader in the public sector.
As they always say ‘its who you know that matters”. Whilst you will be considered for future roles on your merit and capabilities, you should not underestimate the value of making valuable connections with both peers and those positioned at higher career levels.
A key benefit of networking is access to a wealth of knowledge and opportunity. Building your networks with peer groups will allow you to discuss common issues and ideas, whilst exposing yourself to leaders in the sector will put you foremost in mind for future opportunities.
One of the best ways to begin networking is through events and forums or by joining an association dedicated to your profession or interest area. For example, IPAA SA offers regular networking opportunities and exposure for its personal members, bringing them in contact with both peers and sector leaders.
Keep your ear to the ground for new opportunities to expand your skill portfolio or to demonstrate your capabilities. With your career goals firmly identified seek opportunities that will help you meet these goals. This might include putting yourself out there to volunteer as a leader in a project or committee or even getting involved in mentoring a less experienced colleague.
Saying ‘YES’ to new opportunities can be full of trepidation and uncertainty as they force us out of our comfort zone, however the reward almost always pays off.
In a world where the need for certain capabilities changes rapidly, it’s essential to engage in life-long learning throughout your career. As best-practice expectations change you will need to commit yourself to identifying learning and development to fill in any skill gaps which may emerge, or even better yet to go beyond expected capabilities and learn something that will give you the advantage in your role.
You can seek professional development through a number of avenues including through internal offerings in your organisation or department, or through external training providers such as IPAA SA. Often your employer will be willing to cover the cost of your training, however if they do not, consider investing in yourself and your career path with some well spent time and money on a growth opportunity. Most professional development that you pay for yourself is tax deductible along with your membership to a professional association related to your employment.
Once you have undertaken some professional development, don’t be afraid to showcase and share your knowledge with your team. Not only will you be imparting some valuable insight to your colleagues, you’ll highlight yourself as a team player.
A bit of hard work goes a long way in achieving your goals. If your next career move centers on promotion or gaining a sought after role, you will need to put the time and effort in.
Simply ticking the boxes on your performance and task checklist may not always be enough. You will find it very beneficial to approach those you report to for additional responsibilities for you to demonstrate you commitment not only to your role but to your department or organisation.
Make it a point to ask your managers and those you respect for their feedback. Feedback is an invaluable mechanism for enhancing your self-awareness and in understanding where you should see improvement.
Ideal times to ask for feedback from your managers or colleagues can coincide with the completion of milestones or goals, or even better yet, when you are struggling to meet deadlines or goals.
When you do receive feedback from others, keep in mind not to respond negatively. It’s easy to become defensive when we feel that we are being criticised. Remember that the feedback you are receiving is for your benefit, so try not to take it personally!
Being part of a board can be a great way of improving your skills and professional standing and a valuable addition to your resume. As a member of a board, you will expose yourself to a new understanding of all aspects of business operation and add to your repertoire of leadership and interpersonal skills.
Finding you first board appointment can be tasking, though some valuable places to begin include the BoardingCall portal available through the Government of South Australia, enabling you to register your interest to join the board of a government department or agency. Additionally, IPAA SA is led by a Council and Strategic Advisory Committee, which is open to Personal Members to apply to join. The IPAA SA Divisional Council and Strategic Committee are headed by some of the foremost public sector leaders and present the opportunity for you to gain vital experience and exposure in your career.
Sometimes we find that obstacles and unexpected challenges interrupt us achieving our career goals. When this happens to you (as it does to most of us) be prepared to hold a positive and resilient mindset to help you move past adversity and continue in reaching your goals.
Strategies for building your resilience focus on developing the four key fields of; physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional resilience. These areas encourage you to:
You can seek professional development to help you build your capability in personal resilience. The IPAA SA ‘Personal Resilience’ short course will help understand the previously mentioned aspects of resilience in-depth, along with providing the all important tools for understanding and growing your resilience.
If you are ready to begin working towards your career goals, you will find it helpful to take time for reflection. IPAA SA offers ‘Career Development’ sessions, led by facilitator Scott Way, Director, BDO who is highly experienced in providing career direction for public sector employees. This course will give you the opportunity to identify and explore your goals along with in-depth exploration of other content in this article. Additionally, the IPAA SA team are happy to assist you in locating Professional Development suited to your goals.
Whatever your career goals look like, as we emerge from a challenging year, now is the time for you to make a positive step forward in your career.
A new research report has found that the working from home experience of Australian Public Service (APS) employees, compelled by the COVID019 pandemic, has been overwhelmingly positive, realising benefits and dispelling some long-held concerns.
The recently published ‘Working during the Pandemic: From resistance to revolution?‘ report, written by Associate Professor Linda Colley, CQUniversity, and Dr Sue Williamson, UNSW Canberra, was prepared by UNSW Canberra Public Service Research Group and CQUniversity.
Over 6,000 APS respondents participated in a survey which was run in late June 2020. It aimed to capture the experiences of those working from home, as well as the attitudes, perceptions and experience of those not working from home.
The authors worked with the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) to develop the survey instrument, and the CPSU distributed the survey to their mailing list on the authors’ behalf. The sample was broadly representative of the APS workforce in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity, and ongoing tenure. It included about 20% non-union members and approximately 25% managers, across a broad range of occupations and agencies.
The researchers found that managers were highly supportive of working from home and that over 90% believed that their teams’ productivity was the same or even higher when working from home.
They found that nearly two-thirds of employees felt that they got more work done than when at the office. Nearly two-thirds felt that they had more autonomy, and employees also enjoyed the personal benefits, including less commuting time, more time with family and for caring responsibilities.
In the future, over two-thirds wanted to continue working from home on a regular basis for some of their hours. The key reasons for this included the ability to manage work and caring responsibilities, and the time for themselves and family.
From a managerial perspective, nearly two-thirds of managers indicated they would be more supportive of working from home in the future but interestingly, while managers are supportive, organisational culture may be lagging.
A limitation to the survey was a selection bias towards those working from home, resulting in an under-representation of those who did not work from home. While this reduced the number of responses to the authors’ questions about reasons people did not work from home, it did not diminish the responses from those who did.
A copy of the full report is available on the UNSW Canberra website.
Text and images courtesy of IPAA National
Chief Executive, Primary Industries and Region (PIRSA), Michelle Edge arrived in her new role ‘right in thick of it’ as the COVID-19 pandemic response unfolded. This presented both a number of challenges and opportunities for her department, as Ms Edge hit the ground running to provide leadership and direction during this challenging time.
With a strong background in crisis management from her time and experience in New Zealand, dealing with an outbreak of tuberculosis and an earthquake disaster response, Ms Edge came to SA with a unique perspective and set of capabilities to respond to the challenges her department faced.
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges during this crisis period for Ms Edge and her department was monitoring and responding to how crisis and disaster situations affected their stakeholders. With the recent bushfires and then the subsequent pandemic, the health and wellbeing of the community was at the forefront of planning their response. The importance of business continuity, preparedness and identifying what needed to change and what needed to continue or adapt, was in key consideration during this time, and as we move forward to the recovery phase.
As a leader, Ms Edge faced many challenges, especially coming directly into a new role and team from interstate. Ms Edge highlighted the importance of communication with both her own people and across the industry during a time of uncertainty.
“Letting people know that what they were feeling, others were feeling”
Ms Edge highlights that COVID has brought new opportunities to build more empathetic and positive workplace cultures, which is a change she hopes to see persist in the new normal.
“COVID has brought out people’s natural abilities to be more tolerant and understanding of each other”.
As we move forward, Ms Edge shared that building the skills and capabilities of her department to remain resilient and to care for mental wellbeing will be a strong focus.
Above all, Ms Edge praised her department and teams for their ability to react adaptively to this crisis. The preparedness of her team to meet the challenges of different scenarios, such as bushfires, disease outbreaks and pandemics was vital in both the initial response to the pandemic and bushfires of 2020, and has reinforced “the value of preparedness exercises”. In the coming bush fire season, Ms Edge has put renewed focus on using the lessons, of what has ultimately been a very challenging year, to increase our bushfire preparedness and apply new learning from experience and the outcomes of the royal commission.
Agriculture and farming have keenly felt the impact of COVID-19. Ms Edge and her department are calling for everyone to show their support towards our farmers, who are busy putting food on our tables, and join in the #ThankSAFarmers movement. To take part all you need to do is share your thankyou message to our farmers on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn with #ThankSAFarmers.
Ready to expand your capabilities?
As Ms Edge mentions, building the resilience of you and your team, as well as honing your skills in communication and adaptive leadership is more important than ever. Explore the upcoming training and development for these skills areas below…
Joining us virtually On the Couch Chief Executive, Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Tony Circelli, shared how this unique crisis situation called on his department to embrace different ways of providing service.
“The key thing is communication”
As highlighted by many public sector leaders in these sessions, Mr Circelli emphasised how vital communication is, both internally and externally, particularly during the early response to the pandemic. In these challenging circumstances, stakeholders and staff needed to know if services were continuing and what this would look like.
The health and wellbeing of both the EPA’s teams and customers are a big part of the culture at the EPA, Mr Circelli shared. From the initial stages of the pandemic, this mindset helped them recognise that everyone was going to respond differently to the changes brought about by working from home, distancing restrictions and impacts on businesses’ operations. From his department, there was a large effort to provide support to staff who needed it, especially younger employees or those entering the sector, who had not yet had the chance to form connections.
“The big cultural change to society, is that everyone has had to learn the technology”
As we now emerge into the recovery period, a key focus for Mr Circelli will be examining how we can embed the ‘new business as usual’ into what services will look like post-COVID, and how the delivery of those services may be changed for the better.
When asked what Mr Circelli and his department might do differently post COVID-19, he noted his enthusiasm for taking up new and existing technologies to save time and increase their ability to communicate. The new possibilities of working from home have changed the way recruitment and HR may work, where people in rural areas can access increased opportunities.
“Leadership is an area where you are focusing on change. It’s being prepared to change yourself. It’s being prepared to lead people through those changes”
Mr Circelli also shared his thoughts on important traits for leaders during this time of change. With all the new opportunities to shift the way things have been traditionally done, we can learn from Mr Circelli that now is the time to be exploring those new opportunities and being ready to take the leap.
“My hope is that we have a new way of working in the future, and be able to adapt” – Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, IPAA SA President, Erma Ranieri FIPAA
The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot recently to describe the situation we have found ourselves in, both as a nation, and a public service. COVID-19 though has indeed brought unprecedented challenges and changes to the way we live and work.
For leaders and managers at all levels, there has been a demand to quickly adapt to new ways of managing teams remotely and ensuring business continuity even through the height of the pandemic.
As we learned from our Virtual on the Couch guests, the challenges leaders have faced and overcome have been substantial and even as we move into the recovery phase, key leaders share that the drastic shift in workplace paradigm will remain with us. The question for leaders here, is how do you apply the lessons from leading in crisis to support teams and reach goals in the ‘new normal’?
“Leadership is an area where you are focusing on change. It’s being prepared to change yourself. It’s being prepared to lead people through those changes” – Chief Executive, Environment Protection Authority, Tony Circelli
It’s simple to stick to what we know and feel comfortable with, and COVID-19 certainly did the job of pushing many people far beyond their comfort zone. Appreciate your own capacity to adapt, knowing that you have led through one of the biggest crises of recent times. As future opportunities for change and new ways of doing things emerge, keep this in mind and don’t be afraid to go outside your comfort zone, in order to embrace these changes and opportunities.
“You have got to have clarity, you have got to have purpose and you have got to communicate, communicate, communicate” – Chief Executive, Department for Child Protection, Cathy Taylor
From all the public sector leaders that have joined us On the Couch one thing that has stood out is the importance of communication. We have seen across the sector and through messages to the public how vital it was that everyone felt informed and confident that they had the correct information. Looking forward, what lessons in communication can you apply to your role? Perhaps foremost is that in new work paradigms, where your team might not always be in close proximity, we need to engage in new methods and channels of communication. Staying connected with your team, even over distance, through digital platforms will help remote workers stay engaged and accountable.
“Leadership is about making sure people feel they are in, whatever your missions is, together” – Acting Chief Executive, Department of Human Services, Lois Boswell
As we all banded together to face this crisis, cohesion and teamwork were at an all-time high, and a key challenge for us now will be how to maintain this in the recovery period. Change is hard to maintain, and you will need to use all your skills in communication and emotional intelligence to find new ways to enthuse and connect your team about projects you are undertaking. The pandemic has taught us that communication matters, and that when your team members feel considered and part of the process, then there is a much higher will to perform and engage. As a leader, you will need to look for ways to bring your team together to reach goals, allocate work effectively and know where to build your team’s skills to enhance their confidence and ability to contribute.
“Healthier happier staff give you better returns as an organisation” – Chief Executive, Department of Treasury and Finance, David Reynolds
The experience of COVID-19 has been different for everyone, but whether big or small we have all been impacted in some way. As a leader, this may have meant a wake-up call to the different circumstances and challenges your team members are facing, where a high degree of emotional intelligence was needed to care for the health and mental wellbeing of your team. In the new normal, where flexible work and remote work becomes increasingly available, you should consider investing in building and developing greater emotional intelligence skills to communicate with people empathetically and effectively no matter what the future throws at you.
“If you create the space, leaders will step into it” – Rick Persse
Many leaders who have spoken with us have shared that longstanding silos have been seemingly demolished in the wake of the pandemic, bringing new opportunities for collaboration across departments. Leaders who excelled during this crisis demonstrated key attributes which they modeled to the rest of their team, including the expected behaviors to engage in, as well as how to hold a positive and resilient mindset. Adaptive leadership is perhaps the most apt term to describe the style of leadership required here, where teams are operating in often uncharted territory. Now is the time to build and develop your skills in adaptive leadership, as well as to understand how your leadership style impacts the performance and wellbeing of your team.
“Make sure that you are looking at them holistically, not just what they might be producing at their home or not” – Commissioner for Public Sector Employment, IPAA SA President, Erma Ranieri FIPAA
If we are embracing a new work model where remote work and virtual team management becomes part of normal practice, then you will encounter a need to shift your mindset around traditional styles of management and measures of performance. As many of the leaders who joined us On the Couch highlighted, performance can no longer be measured solely on the basis of ‘turning up’ each day. Instead, you need to look at the members of your team holistically- including their mental and social performance as well as their outputs. It has been noted throughout the pandemic that remote work has helped boost productivity levels, where people are getting more done in the day, removed from time eaters such as office chatter, etc. On the flip side of this however is that social isolation has had a negative impact on many people, so whilst we might be seeing increased productivity, we need to weigh this against mental wellbeing. If you are going to lead a remote team post-pandemic, you will need to make sure you have the skill set to help both yourself and your team;
Want to hear more? Our full Virtual on the Couch series is available to view here, where key SA public leaders share their insights on leadership styles, mantras and much more…
The work of two Singapore-based researchers on the effects of ethical culture and ethical leadership on innovation as reported in the public sector has been published in the September 2020 Issue of the Australian Journal of Public Administration.
Examining the relationship between public sector ethics and public sector innovation is important because society has long expected employees and managers in public organisations to behave ethically, but increasingly also expects innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour. However, researchers have previously commented that these two behavioural expectations and the values they require may not necessarily align, and even compete in many cases.
Given that much of the evidence is rather anecdotal, and arguably outdated, Associate Professors Dr Zeger Van der Wal and Dr Mehmet Akif Demircioglu from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at The National University of Singapore, have empirically examined how ethical culture and ethical leadership are associated with realised innovation using 84,222 responses from the Australian Public Service Commission’s 2017 APS agency survey. This research has produced robust findings across agency, work location, job level, tenure, education, and gender and across different samples.
The researchers used a definition of ethical leadership described in 2005 by Brown, Treviño and Harrison as:
‘The demonstration of normatively appropriate conduct through the personal actions and interpersonal relationships, and promotion of such conduct among followers through two-way communication, reinforcement, and decision-making processes’.
The researchers believed that the Australian public sector would provide a suitable environment for studying the effects of leadership and culture on public sector innovation for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the Australian government has been among the most highly ranked globally in terms of innovation and effectiveness for years (see the 2017 work of the OECD and Pollitt & Bouckaert). Secondly, it was also an early adaptor of New Public Management, implementing private sector practices and ideas from the 1980s onwards. And thirdly, the country’s public sector has consistently ranked highly in the Corruption Perception Index run by Transparency International.
Continue reading the full article and access the research paper via the IPAA National website.
Erma Ranieri FIPAA, South Australia’s Commissioner for Public Sector Employment and IPAA SA President, joined IPAA ACT in the latest episode of their ‘Work with Purpose: A National Perspective’ podcast. In this interview Dr Gordon de Brouwer PSM FIPAA, IPAA National President, discussed the COVID-19 pandemic in South Australia.
“The clear message at the end of the day was that you keep talking to people”.
As highlighted by Commissioner Ranieri, while the pandemic presented a series of challenges it also showcased the real capability of the South Australian public sector.
“The innovation and resilience of the public sector were on display during this time, as they worked to support and collaborate with SA Health, SAPOL and other agencies to mobilise the sector to meet the unique needs of the pandemic. As the Mobilisation Coordinator, Commissioner Ranieri noted that this played a key role in the agile response to the pandemic.
“We have connected more than we have ever connected before”.
“COVID has shown what is possible within the public service”.
COVID-19 has also brought about a change to the existing paradigm for leadership and performance management in the workforce. The Commissioner is encouraged to see great outcomes in flexible work arrangements which are “reshaping the workforce to be more adaptable and diverse”. Commissioner Ranieri’s office and IPAA SA will continue to focus on fostering the skills and capabilities leaders need to adapt to this rapid shift in the workplace.
The Commissioner also highlighted the importance of awareness of mental health and wellbeing and the materials available to help leaders and employees to manage the COVID-19 pandemic:
The Office of the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment continues to work with agencies to implement a peer support program and develop an online training program for new peer support officers to build on the existing skills of employees trained in mental health first aid.
The COVID-19 Mental Wellbeing Interview Series, also offers valuable new resources for those working in the public service, with advice and tips from experts in the field
How are city administrations responding to the COVID-19 pandemic? And how might cities change as a result of the coronavirus?
Australia’s major cities have felt the full force of the health and economic crises brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It has challenged the assumptions of city officials towards the services they provide to the community, the way people interact within cities, and has come at significant financial cost to local governments.
Two recent interviews provide different perspectives on the impacts of COVID-19 to the cities and communities of Adelaide and Melbourne.
The first interview with Mark Goldstone — Chief Executive Officer with the City of Adelaide — was part of IPAA South Australia’s Virtual on the Couch series.
The second interview with Andrew Wear — Director of Economic Development at the City of Melbourne and author — was for the IPAA Victoria Public Sector Perspectives podcast.
In this article available through the IPAA National website we explore the unique experience of COVID-19 from the perspective of two different capital city councils. Read the full article here.
Forensic Psychologist, Luke Broomhall joins us in the latest instalment of the COVID-19 Wellbeing – Interview Series. Mr Broomhall shares his tips and advice for leaders, managers and team members on how they can look after their own mental health and that of others.
Mr Broomhall urges us to look out for behaviours that sit outside the norm for that person, such as bouts of tearfulness, withdrawal, or anger. If so be prepared to sit down and open up a conversation with this person on the behaviours, you have noticed.
You might like to start the conversation by saying…
“ [Name} I have noticed lately that you seem a bit more [describe the behaviour e.g. withdrawn and quiet] and [these goals or items haven’t been met] and I’m a bit concerned about you and I just want to know if you’re okay and if there’s anything I can do?”
The role of the manager or leader when handling the response to this question is to have a human response grounded in empathy, but to also understand what they can and can’t control, and in turn to provide resources for the individual to access that will support them. When you encounter a strong emotional response from an individual you can respond to them as described below:
“I understand you are feeling this way, tell me more about your experiences and what you are going through at the moment”
In the transition back into the physical workplace there are several measures and tips that leaders and managers can employ to ease people into the ‘new normal’ of post-COVID-19 work.
We all want to be able to help and support our friends and colleagues when we can see they may be experiencing mental distress. Mr Broomhall shares that we can all take an active role in checking in with others during this time, but firstly you must:
If you have had a chance to view this interview, please provide your thoughts here.