An Engaged Civil Service – Our Greatest Untapped Resource 

Civil Service16 July 2018

Operations in business or in government should mean the same thing, better service delivery for the customer.

In business it is simple: you do it because you want to stay in business and continue your employment.

In government, the “promise me more” not “promise me better” group gets elected. Priorities are determined through the election and vote getting process, not from the realities of the situation in the province. Every time the government changes, so do the priorities. Excelling in your job by implementing initiatives that drive change can often be seen as a threat to a new government. To survive over the long term, you keep your head down and obey orders.

After more than thirty years in management, I found this reality a bit hard to adjust to. Leaders build organizations and the people in those organizations get results. It takes a team of capable individuals with mutual and well defined goals to achieve success. Our programs for success must extend beyond the electoral cycle. Succession planning based on actual training of individuals ready to move to the next level of responsibility is often thwarted, particularly at the senior levels, by political appointments placed solely to implement the government’s agenda.

I recall one particular conversation with a 20-year veteran of the civil service. In that conversation I asked for his recommendation on how to proceed on a particular item. The individual’s response was “whatever I wanted, he was here to serve”. After 20 years I would have been fired with such a response as I would have been expected to deliver much more. In this case however, this individual had experienced politicians of varying degrees of capability. He had learned that one wrong word could end his career so it was best to serve.

I always expected more from anyone that I worked with, and government employees should be no different. The good news is that while I was in government, I worked with some of the most talented and dedicated individuals of my entire career, and that is what is so exciting about the possibilities for New Brunswick: our people are our greatest asset and our greatest untapped resource.