The other day in a meeting I asked a Head of Service what his vision for the future of his department was. He replied that, if he was honest, he was holding out for redundancy so hadn’t really thought about it.
Admittedly this is an extreme case. I consider myself privileged to work on a daily basis with inspirational leaders and passionate officers who are giving their all to meet the challenges local government currently faces in innovative ways. However, there was something in that rather jaded response from a senior manager which disheartened me.
This was a topic we were keen to dissect when I met up with some Young and in Gov comrades a couple of weeks ago to plan future gatherings, following on from our brilliantly fun launch before Christmas.
As enthusiastic, relatively green local government geeks, it sometimes feel like it only takes one cynical manager, or one ‘seen it all before’ colleague to run an idea into the ground, or to dismiss an exciting new project as ‘going nowhere’.
In fact (as I learned when over 50 people turned up to our first event on a cold December night to get to know some local government colleagues at similar stages in their careers) young and relatively inexperienced officers across the country are involved with many impressive projects which most definitely are going somewhere. Hundreds of graduates and younger officers are working on initiatives which will to recast the way local government functions.
Ok, as a new NGDP grad on a large economic regeneration programme, your role might not actually be to strike deals with potential investors to the borough and lead the LEP. However, too often we feel too shy, or awkward, to take any credit for our hard work in front of our more senior colleagues. I am often guilty of finishing a description of a current project with “but I’m only analysing the data”, or “but I didn’t lead…”.
The point is, if we can’t show our enthusiasm and expertise for our work even informally, how can we hope to sell ourselves, or the sector more generally? In the current climate, we need all the enthusiasm and optimism we can get.
So, with all this in mind, we’ve agreed to hold another get together for anyone who’s interested on 21st March. We’ve decided to have a theme of “celebrating success”, because, on top of everything I’ve just said, we had been talking a bit too much about Seb Coe and reliving the 2012 summer of glory to alleviate the January blues.
The idea is that we meet up (we’ll sort out logistics closer to the time), and – in an environment where no one, quite frankly, will know if you’re exaggerating just a teeny bit – discuss the projects we’re working on, or have worked on in the past, which we’re particularly proud of. We will all leave feeling gloriously proud of ourselves and the sector, and positive about our future careers in it.
Get in touch if you’re interested in coming, and come armed with your stories of success! Pessimism not allowed. Seb Coe may* be coming.
*or may not