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TCDC Intranet

I have had several inquiries concerning the TCDC Intranet that is quoted in my earlier post - "I Say; You Say!" For the uninitiated, an intranet is an internal means of communication aimed at all, or groups on the internal server of any organisation. TCDC's Intranet was set up for this purpose some time ago.

In the interests of transparency, and because the 'blog' by Laurna White is specifically aimed at my blog, I have decided to post the entire entry, and the comments, with names redacted. Aside from the unprofessional wording of the post, you will note the specific charges of inaccuracy and "lack of fact checking" aimed at my blog. It is the normal response of jounalists aimed at countering the inroads of bloggers into the territory of so-called MSM (Main-Stream Media.)

By the way, the method of calculating FTE quoted by Laurna in this internal 'blog' is spurious, and does not adequately record staff numbers. Note the reference to "Permanent FTE" figures, followed by the description of "total hours worked by all full-time, part-time and casual employees in each year divided by 40."

This does not relate to the Total FTE Headcount in my possession that clearly includes contractors and part-timers in the FTE format. Describing them as "Permanent FTE" appears to be deplorable device to hide the true numbers, and adds weight to my contention that staff numbers have dramatically increased. Dissembling by definition may cut the numbers, but it does not 'cut the mustard.'     

Why doesn't the CEO simply accede to my challenge to have a full staff, and severance payment audit conducted by a national accounting firm, and be done with it? This argument will not be laid to rest through internal 'blog' posts, certainly not this one!

You may also notice the emphasis in the comments to the old 'loyalty to your mates' saw, together with the  implication that "We all have good jobs - let's protect them." A normal reaction by local government staffers to outside criticism. Loyalty trumps truth - every time!

No doubt there will be another 'witch-hunt' to discover my source. I don't like their chances.

Here is the post:

24/09/2015 by: Laurna White 

Blogs are usually written by an individual usually to provide commentary on a particular subject or issue.  You’re reading mine now (thank you!) and the reason we set it up on the intranet staff was it’s a really good forum for all of us in different departments to share in a more informal way what is going on in our areas or departments.

Couple of things about blogs – they’re editorial, so often are just bloggers opinion and may not also be factual. Also, because they’re blogs they don’t get the same scrutiny or have to abide by the same ethics and standards as the media (so balance and accuracy can be absent).

Externally you may read the odd blogs too and as Council’s Communications Manager I also have to monitor blogs that mention our Council. What I monitor is whether a blog is merely editorialising or if there is facts that are incorrect. If it's the latter, that’s when from a public relations perspective, I need to step in.

So I wanted to share some facts with you, to correct a recent external blogger who says they have “insider” knowledge about our Council, staff numbers and staff culture.

As of 30 June 2015 our Permanent FTE figures was 191. The Full Time Equivalent (FTE) calculation is the standard method used to compare staff numbers and is based on the total hours worked by all full-time, part-time and casual employees in each year divided by the hours worked by a full time employee (40 hours per week).

Figures for the past 7 years are:

2015-191                                                                                                                                                    2014-179                                                                                                                                                         2013-179                                                                                                                                                       2012-157                                                                                                                                                             2011-197                                                                                                                                                            2010-193                                                                                                                                                                                                    

2009- 187                                                                                                                                             

Our latest FTE count takes into account that we have recently employed new staff for regulatory purposes (liquor licencing, health and safety), following changes to government legislation. We have also previously brought out-sourced roles back in-house, which has proved to be cost effective (this includes regulatory/bylaws and legal staff).

Also following recommendations from the Deloitte Report and Audit NZ we now have a Business Improvement Manager to ensure projects are better managed.

Also included in these most recent figures is AA staff, based out of our Thames office.

All this information is publicly available in our Annual Reports and we provide these details to any member of the public on request.

So going back to bloggers, who like the media will have their “sources” of information. As a former journalist I know about protecting sources, but also where sources of information may come from. Working in a newsroom for 20 years there’s been two occasions I’ve seen with insiders “leaking” information to other media. Both those cases involved two reporters who were disenchanted with work and where they were going in their careers. Both moved on.

So something I’d like us all to think about. If you work for our Council and you’re unhappy – have you really drilled down into why that might be? Have you ever worked elsewhere, or have you spent your career with TCDC? Do you have a benchmark of what is a good workplace? If you’ve worked somewhere else can you remember issues within that organisation? Have you spoken to people who work in other Councils or other sectors to see what experiences are like elsewhere?

Because we’re all human, we all make mistakes and nobody and no system is perfect. What I truly believe is that this Council and our staff are really trying to make the Coromandel somewhere people want to come and live, work and visit - and not the environment that any blogs assumes (without the facts) otherwise.

And remember - any person being blogged about also has a family, they live in our community and they’ve chosen to work for our Council in a job that’s about serving our communities. My professional advice to our elected members and staff who may have been blogged about is just don’t read it. Because deep down you have to ask what is the motivation for someone to blog in the first place? If it’s monitoring Council’s accountability, then as an ex-journo I totally support that. When it makes assumptions about our Council and staff using “insider, unsupported” allegations – I don't.


Comments: (seven – names redacted!)

"Nice blog Laurna"

"I'm curious to know how the FTE numbers change when contractors are added: at least the ones easy to count, that work for the Council fairly regularly for six months to a year similar to in-house staff. Alternatively we could measure the amount we spend on contractors, rather than time or numbers. It sounds like the number of contractors we use has gone down over time as functions have been brought in-house. This could present a clearer picture. Rumours always abound about whether we're 'farming out' to contractors, but there's never any hard data to justify them. Let's hope mild curiosity doesn't kill this cat ... ;-)"

"It is disappointing that people are quick to believe bad things about good people. Always start with an open mind and base your opinions on peoples actions and how they treat others, that's my motto."

"Well put Laurna, thanks for the blog."

"Well said Laurna"

"Awesome Laurna, well said and delivered. Having worked for various organisations previously, we are actually going OK here. (I can explain more in person if needed) We all have the freedom to choose our own attitude and how we react to others behaviour. Keep on, keeping on people and remember to support your team mates."

"There is no such thing as a perfect organisation. What does make the difference is people working well together. I like it here. Thanks for covering this Laurna."



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Reader Comments (3)

Well grammar is not one of Laurna's strengths.
20 years a journalist--as the Tui says--- 'yeah right'
Staff want to 'make the Coromandel somewhere people want to come and live, work and visit'--cripes that is really convoluted-- and what about those who are already living here--don't they count?
Anybody know how many staff have left since October 2010 [and been replaced]? Over 40% rumour has it, which hardly makes the Council a great place to work.
As for the thought 'insiders' may be leaking 'information to other media'-- under LGA the Council should be 'open and transparent' anyway-
Roll on 2016 and local Government elections

October 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterFootrot Flats

I am appalled as a ratepayer paying an absolute premium in rates for an over staffed council, where there is a high level of contempt and dissent amongst the staff. It is well known in the community that the bullying stems from the top and obviously highly inflated egos and the Communications Manager is no exception either!

Agree with footrot flats we need a change in the next election - along with a huge clean out of the senior, middle management team, as the current are a disgrace.

October 1, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJust a ratepayer

So, that is 7 people who appear to be happy in their job....which leads me to ask the question 'how many staff members are unhappy in their jobs"? That would be a far more compelling read. As Just A Ratepayer says, its well known in the community what the true environment is like in this organisation and how disenchanted many staff are and why they feel like that.

October 3, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRuby

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