Communication weaknesses and uncertainty about leadership roles at the Waimate District Council are not indicative of serious issues within the organisation, chief executive Stuart Duncan says.
At a meeting of the council on Tuesday, a report prepared by Mr Duncan on his observations three months into his tenure was presented to councillors, who had earlier requested it.
The report identified clarity of leadership and communication within the organisation as being the two main issues that needed to be resolved.
In his report, Mr Duncan said some “real weakness” existed when it came to communication between departments within the council, and between departments and elected members.
A survey conducted in April revealed staff were “disappointed” they were reading media releases and not being informed about the matter before the public.
“The field staff, in particular, have felt a little bit left out . . . and they find out from a third party what their own council’s intending to do, or has done.
“We’re putting in some measures to mitigate that, to ensure employees, where possible, find out ahead of a third party. There is some stuff we can’t control, but there’s certainly some stuff we can and I want to do that better.”
Those measures included monthly newsletters to staff from Mr Duncan, quarterly staff meetings, access to unconfirmed council meeting minutes and more regular updates on council projects and human resource issues.
Mr Duncan said issues that involved clarity around leadership were also being addressed.
“I’ve just got a leadership group at the moment that have blurred lines of responsibility, and that happens in organisations. You get leaders that have wagons hitched to their last carriage and they begrudgingly take them along and over time, you need to stop and reset, otherwise your employees start to get a bit confused about who they answer to.”
Mr Duncan said it was “critically important” the issues were addressed as soon as possible, but stressed the report did not suggest deep-seated issues at the organisation.
Waimate Mayor Craig Rowley said Mr Duncan’s appointment was an opportunity for elected members to “get a fresh set of eyes looking over the organisation”.
“Stuart has highlighted a range of areas that could be improved upon. There has been nothing identified that is a major concern to the elected members. We look forward to the minor changes that will be made which we believe will improve the efficiency of our council and is in line with the direction the elected members are seeking, which is leading the council to show value for money for our communities.”