How to Lead Cultural Change in the Public Sector

Even today, public sector leaders face significant challenges as they respond to the pressures of reducing spending - all while providing a trustworthy and effective citizen service. To achieve this in the public sector, you need to first champion and lead a digital-first cultural change by gaining staff involvement from the beginning. 

Here’s how you can go about driving a digital and cultural change in the public sector.

Finalise a Digital Transformation Strategy

To successfully implement a digital transformation strategy, you first need the skills in your workforce and the right workplace culture to ensure it’s a success. Think of it as the backbone which kickstarts both the digital and cultural transformation in the public sector.

You need a strategy as transformation doesn't occur overnight. It needs a lot of input and support from staff and management to ensure it's a lasting success. In your strategy, make sure you cover areas such as:

  • Relevant security standards by taking the necessary precautions.
  • Use automation where possible.
  • Adopt cloud-based software and CRMs while phasing out legacy systems and software.
  • Acknowledge end-users with every change you plan. Ultimately, digital transformation in the public sector needs to ensure the relationship between citizen and state is positive. 
  • Utilise analytics to help with decision-making.

With these points embedded in your strategy, your digital transformation is likely to be a success - with citizens always in mind.

Utilise Emerging Technology

To eliminate barriers between citizen and state, utilise emerging technologies in the relevant areas. Transforming both your culture and your digital tech can be a catalyst to providing effective public services.

To be a champion of change, consider which type of technology can help you make an impact. Whether it's the use of artificial intelligence to make services more accessible or taking advantage of superforecasting, it all helps prepare your organisation for a fully-integrated future.

At the same time, using emerging technology now rather than falling behind ensures you'll future-proof your public service organisation by remaining proactive and ahead of the curve to cater to public demand.

Upskill Your Team and Identify Talent

Utilising emerging technology and tools to transform the public sector culture isn't going to be successful if the people using the technology don't have the right skills. Or, if they can't use it to its full potential to provide an efficient public service.

Invest in training so your team can get hands-on training with technology or software they'll eventually use on a regular basis. During this training and as you upskill your team, identify and retain those in your team that possess the relevant digital skills.

This is an important part of supporting your digital culture change as it helps to create a stronger and much more proactive workforce. As they're the ones on the front line, they act as the foundation to providing an effective service, powered by technology.

Achieve Management Buy-In

Like with any type of change, there are bound to be some that object a new type of culture. For example it could be moving from manual methods to more automated tasks and processes using specialist software. However, achieving management buy-in can reassure anybody that objects.

This is something Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council initially struggled with. It's aim was to bridge a gap in the digital project while also improving the customer journey and the first challenge was to establish management buy-in.

To ensure the digital project was a success, the council managed to persuade the relevant figures to influence the rest of the organisation. 

Create a Digital Transformation Framework

Public sector organisations can gain a lot from an effective digital transformation framework. It's not a small task so making everyone aware of the magnitude of the project can help kickstart it. 

Here's an example of what can be included in the framework to ensure its success:

  • Secure commitment from management.
  • Secure any potential investment.
  • Focus on quick-win digital projects to win company-wide support.
  • Identify talent with digital skills to create a launch team filled with creativity and leadership.
  • Capitalise on quick returns.
  • Invest in company-wide training.
  • Adopt new operational models.

With an effective digital transformation to work from, you can lead this big change in the public sector the right way with fewer barriers down the line.

Invest in Transformation Tools

Tools to transform the culture in a public sector organisation isn't just for internal purposes, but for citizen benefits as well. For example, think about the type of tools you can implement to enhance communication with citizens, rather than utilising outdated methods they've moved on from.

By looking at such tools, you can nurture relationships with the public and increase trust through digital engagement.

Here, it's also a good idea to utilise big data. By using data that's both safe and ethical, you can gather and share data in far greater quantities than ever before at great speeds to reflect how the public lives now.

Although it's vital to take charge and utilise emerging technology that can help your internal team, don't neglect tools that will also benefit the services you provide to the public.

Driving cultural change in the public sector is easier said than done. It only really happens when people take action, so begin the process today by downloading our all-in-one cultural transformation guide.

Start Your Cultural Transformation Journey

At DigiGov Expo we'll be uniting the public sector technology community at the UK's largest public sector tech event! With four theatres covering a range of topics including: GovTech, Citizen Experience, GovICT and Cyber Security, hear from leaders on cultural transformation, and walk away with tips and tricks to implement within your own organisation. Secure your place here.