Service NSW’s Anne Cosgrove – ‘Motivation is a two-way conversation’

Anne Cosgrove, Service NSW

Service NSW is one of the flagship agencies in the digital transformation across government. In four years Service NSW has revolutionised the delivery of government services in NSW, changing the way that customers and government interact.

Customers and businesses can now access over a thousand transaction types from 40 government agencies at one location. The Service NSW workforce has grown from 300 people four years ago to 2,500 people today. It is a key contributor to the NSW Government’s commitment of having 70 percent of government transactions conducted via digital channels by 2019.

This not only challenges the employees and their individual skillsets but also the leadership. How do you lead and motivate a workforce in an organisation that is constantly changing?

“It’s really about how you inspire people and bring them on the journey with you,” says Anne Cosgrove, Executive Director of People and Culture at Service NSW.

“It’s about being able to tell a story, a narrative, that people understand. They trust us to bring them to where they need to be to provide the services that we offer.

“There is a growing awareness of what we stand for, and what we can do for our customers. This is achieved through the willingness of our people to deliver outstanding service while dealing with change.

“Change is constant and often ambiguous, leaving people nervous about where the change journey will lead. Sometimes you cannot know for sure until you’re at the very end of it. The key to leading the workforce through this is transparency.

“We have what I would call an ongoing organisational discussion. We always tell our people what we are doing, we check in with our teams on a regular basis and we have them involved in building the strategy and identifying the priorities that will help us achieve our strategic outcomes.

“It is always a two-way conversation, everyone has their part to play and needs to recognise and understand their role in implementing the strategy” she explains.

It is not only Service NSW that is going through a major transformation – virtually all government agencies are innovating and evolving. Both the organisations and the workforces within them will be changing over the coming years, which will cause many challenges to their leadership.

“In addition to the really strong emotional intelligence which is required to be a good leader, you need self-awareness. You need to understand your impact on others and the culture you are building through your leadership style,” says Cosgrove.

“I would like organisations to think of leadership from a strength-based perspective and look at people’s strengths and how we can leverage them as opposed to just talking about performance management, KPIs, and problem-solving.

“If you can define what an organisation’s strengths are and lead from that perspective, focusing on strengths, abilities and potential rather than problems, you have a competitive advantage that no one else will have.”

Anne Cosgrove will be speaking on ‘Emerging leadership paradigms in public sector management – getting the most out of your team’ at Public Sector Show 2018 in Canberra on 27 March. Government News readers can quote ‘GOVNews2for1’ on the registration form to receive two tickets for the price of one (government employees only). More information here.

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