Learner Success

Conversations, Coaching and Capability Help Unlock Staff Potential

Peter Fletcher

Middle management is all about people, and the public service is no exception. Effective team-building requires a commitment to best practice in leadership. For Peter Fletcher, a former youth outreach officer and child protection practitioner and now a manager within the Northern Territory government, the PSMP provided an opportunity to develop a new framework for staff development at his workplace.

As Director for Communities, Justice, and Child Protection at Territory Families, Housing, and Communities, Peter understands the importance of building trust within teams.
“We’re nothing without our people in a big organization like Territory families, and developing people is one of the things that I get the most enjoyment out of in my job,” he says.

Every PSMP participant completes a capstone workplace project in which they conduct an investigation into an operation or procedure at their workplace that they feel is impacting on operational effectiveness. Peter’s workplace project focused on evaluating and refreshing his department’s staff supervision framework. His project was so successful that it is now being implemented.

The title of his project was Conversations, Coaching and Capability. “It’s a reflection of the key trends I picked up throughout the PSMP journey,” he says. “Conversations are the starting point, the building blocks for the foundations required for building trust and developing good rapport and relationships within teams. Coaching is one of the most written about and researched leadership styles in contemporary history. And capabilities is about showing the agency what can be gained in terms of operational performance through investing in your people early.”

Of the four units that make up the PSMP, it’s no surprise that Peter’s favourite was Unit 2: Managing Self and Others. The program also introduced him to a number of useful strategy and management tools that Peter will be able to continue using back at Territory Families.

“The public value scorecard gets you to stop and look up from your desk and consider how you are going to improve or contribute to public value,” he says. “The strategy journey map is all about stopping and taking stock. It’s easy in a busy public service job to be very focused on outcomes and efficiency, and the map gets you to stop and think about the strategy of what you’re trying to do.

Peter’s advice for anyone considering the PSMP is to understand the commitment involved. “If you’re going to take it on, be ready to lean into the program,” he says.

“It’s a big piece of work, but it’s certainly worth the investment of your time and effort.”

Hear about Peter’s PSMP journey here:

QUT PSMP Program
Tell us about your workplace project, and why you chose that topic.

The title of my project is “Conversations, Coaching, and Capability”. So, it’s a reflection of the key trends I picked up in researching throughout the PSMP journey, and essentially there’s a lot of research that I picked up in unit two which suggests that you know, conversations are the starting point or building block for a lot of the foundations required for building trust and developing good reporting relationships within teams, so obviously once that trust is there and there’s some empathy and warmth wrapped around that, you know, the coaching element begins, in terms of coaching certainly being one of the most written about in research to the development of leadership styles in more contemporary history, and then obviously capabilities is about showing the agency what can be gained in terms of operational performance out of investing in your people early, and with that trust and warmth.

What was the highlight of your PSMP experience?

So, the highlight for me out of the entire course was probably unit two, Managing Self and Others, and the reason for that is just I was able to take those skills immediately and apply them in the workplace, even throughout unit two and I appreciate lots of self-development work as well and obviously, that’s a big part of the managing self and others.

What advice would you give to someone considering studying the PSMP?

I think if you’re a middle manager in the public service anywhere in Australia really, and your role is taking you to a position where you are needing to start to consider not just the operational requirements of your or your role, and basically, everything that’s in front of you but also if you’re being asked to consider implications like public value or strategy policy, certainly the political nature of the work we do in the public service then the PSMP is for you.

I think, what it does really well right from the outset in unit one is to get you to understand where you fit as a public service middle manager in the political and public service landscape in Australia, and that’s whether you know it at that point or not it’s very important for your progression and understanding of the role as you move through leadership ranks in public service.

Can you talk about Public Value and the implementation of your project?

As I said, my project focus, technically focused on our agencies staff and in a framework to assist middle managers in developing their people and supporting them obviously so that we are continually developing new managers for the public service, so, I think the public value in that was quite easy for me to state, however, I guess that there wasn’t a direct link necessarily for some. So, what I was able to show, in investing in your people is that you stand to increase your recruitment, retention, and corporate knowledge of the people that you know that you have working in your organisation or in your agency.

So, what happens as the result of that is, the operational effectiveness of your agency or whatever organisation you are working in, it will increase with basically a happier workforce are going to perform better they’re going to stay in their jobs longer, which is going to increase their kind of corporate knowledge and corporate value, and obviously the end users for all of us, as public service middle managers, are the public themselves.

So, it was an easy link to draw, but certainly, to demonstrate it really well, there are tools such as the Public Value Scorecard, which just gets you to stop and check, and see aspects like political palatability for, you know, tools you might be considering or approaches you might be considering in your work, and it just gets you to stop and look up from your desk, so to speak, and consider the implications to the public, to really step them out, how am I going to improve public value or contribute to public value with my idea and that it also gets you to have a think about the political landscape and you know what how it might be viewed by your senior executives. So, the Public Value Scorecard was a great tool for that, and then, and then also other tools like the Strategy Journey Map, which again is all about just stopping and taking stock for a moment.

It’s very easy in busy public service jobs to just be very focussed on the outcomes and efficiency, and it just gets you to stop and think about the strategy of what you’re trying to do, links in with key aspects, like who your stakeholders are, how they stand to benefit, you know, what’s in it for the public, the public value, the political landscape, the interagency landscape within which you’re dealing, and I found the Strategy Journey Map was a great way that kind of prompted your brain to think more broadly and a high level and then also get those thoughts down on paper.


Tony is a Corporate Educator for QUT, teaching strategic thinking, strategy implementation, innovation and marketing. He has strong expertise in strategic thinking and business planning, innovation and creative processes, and leadership development. Tony’s research interests include employee loyalty, organisational climates, and corporate reputation.

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