The Department of Defence is charged with the responsibility to defend Australia and its national interests.

In fulfilling its mission, Defence serves the government of the day and is accountable to the Commonwealth Parliament which represents the Australian people to efficiently and effectively carry out the government’s defence policy.

The Ministerial and Parliamentary Branch has always been a challenging workplace. Work is often delivered in a time-critical context, with limited scope for planning and anticipating when fresh priorities might arise.

Our document, the Ministerial and Parliamentary Branch improvement strategy, presents a coordinated, integrated approach to the Branch’s capabilities, leadership and culture.

Approach

To help the Ministerial and Parliamentary Branch negate the effects of its sub-optimal culture, exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19 on the Branch and its teams, The Being Group was tasked to help foster improvement.

Focusing on strategy, culture, change, collaboration and communication, we performed an intervention to enhance how teams work and operate. This involved developing a strategy for improving the Branch holistically, and doing it in a way that modelled the culture the Branch aspired to. This was achieved through a modular process comprising three components.

Component One

Team health and performance audit interviews were held with ten EL1s and all five EL2s, as well as a cross section of other members and stakeholders. These interviews were structured to gather as much information as possible about the Branch, including pain-points, areas for improvement and practical suggestions. The interviews also constructively explored behaviours by all parties contributing to the culture state.

In addition to interviews, focus groups were conducted with all other members of the Branch. These groups combined structured and unstructured stages to gather as much quality information as possible, unpacking both positives and negatives.

Component Two

To guide the Branch through the culture development process, we facilitated EL sessions totalling fourteen hours of contact time to develop individual practical leadership capabilities. These were sophisticated sessions, based on the findings of component one, a Cognitive Behaviour Change approach, change strategy and our extensive methodology in helping teams improve their culture and collaboration.

Component Three

To support the effective implementation of the culture change agenda, we provided coaching-style follow-up sessions focused on difficulties experienced and pragmatic solutions for the inevitable challenges of rebuilding the team.

Outcomes

The Branch improvement strategy is informed by the findings of this detailed culture audit. It aligns with the efforts and priorities of the broader Department of Defence, with the vision of the Branch and its determination to achieve a positive culture and working environment. It incorporates existing initiatives and initiatives that emerged from consultation sessions.

It is not a strategy for the operational work of the Branch. It is an inward-looking strategy, focused specifically on developing capabilities, improving culture and on leadership in the challenging, but exciting environment.

The document proposes a strategy on a page, eight programs of work, and simple measures of success for everyone within the Branch to track.


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