From the Cleaner to the CEO, the rules of engagement are the same

Ange Connor

Big news in Ballarat, the CEO of the City of Ballarat has resigned to take up a new position. There has been article after article in the local newspaper, it’s been tweeted and posted throughout social media. It’s being discussed at business network events and at social Christmas gatherings. Everyone seems to have an opinion on the matter. Its big news for Ballarat, and especially as it comes, what seems like just moments, after Council voted to reappoint and not go to market to see if there was anyone better out there for the job.

Anthony Schinck’s re-appoint as CEO of the City for Ballarat and now recent resignation has certainly generated great debate throughout the community. Social Media has been buzzing with opinions on what he has or hasn’t achieved in his time as CEO, to the decision to re-appoint him and not advertise the position. Even the quality of his beard has had a mention (seriously)! But this blog isn’t about Anthony Schinck, it’s about employee engagement.

I’ve watched with interest as the matter has played out over many months and with my HR hat on, I can’t say I’m surprised that the CEO of the City of Ballarat has resigned.

How did Council engage him through this process, yes the CEO, as an employee? Because at the end of the day, he is an employee, just like everybody else employed by the City of Ballarat.

The decision to re-appoint or go external and run a recruitment process, should not be a difficult decision. The employee is either meeting their KPI’s to the required standard or they are not. If the necessary KPI’s, measurements and performance appraisal structure is in place it should be a straight forward decision. Employers are regularly faced with these decisions about their employees.

Put yourself in the CEO’s shoes for a moment. How engaged as an employee would you be, if for weeks on end, there was debate around your performance and talk of advertising the position to see if someone better could be found. Not the most motivating situation to be in. I see this situation played out regularly although it’s generally not in the public arena for everyone to comment on. The contract comes to expiry, the employer has to decide to reappoint or advertise the position (sometimes policy dictates that the position has to be advertised regardless). In the majority of situations, the employee decides that they can’t put all their eggs in one basket, so to speak, and they are forced to consider other employment options. They can’t just cross their fingers and hope that they’ll be re-appointed or be successfully re-appointed by going through the recruitment process.

An employee’s engagement levels no doubt change with this kind of uncertainty. As they are forced to start looking at opportunities outside their current workplace, considering other opportunities and looking at what’s on offer, their engagement levels and mindset change. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side; but sometimes it is.

I’m not implying that is what has happened with Anthony Schinck, I’m not privy to that information. I simply think we need to bear in mind, before we cast judgement and comment on the matter and as employers, how our actions and decisions impact the engagement of our employees. At the end of the day employees need to do what is in their best interests and if an employee is not feeling engaged or valued, or supported by their manager/s; they will look elsewhere for that engagement and support.

Effectively managing these types of scenarios requires strong leadership. Honest, transparent and unambiguous communication is key. Feedback should have been provided regularly throughout the employment, not just as the contract expiry date approaches. Actions speak louder than words; staying silent on the matter, not addressing the elephant in the room will drive dis-engagement. This leadership or lack thereof has the potential to dis-engage not just the employee in question, it can drive the dis-engagement of other employees across the organisation. Where multiple people have input into the decision (eg Councillors in this scenario), it is essential that once a decision is made the leadership team move forward with a united front. Yes, there may be differences in opinion around performance, however if the right measurements for assessing performance are in place this decision making process should be straight forward.

Employee Engagement drives behaviour, culture, productivity and retention at all levels of an organisation, including CEO’s. How is your leadership driving the engagement of your employees?

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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