Pushing for promotion

By Blair McPherson | 09 November 2016

Blair McPherson poses some draft exam questions for a new accelerated promotion scheme for local government managers

Local Authorities are to introduce a national accelerated promotion scheme for managers. The scheme will enable the brightest young managers to skip several management tiers to reach senior posts at a much earlier stage in their career, making local government far more attractive to the brightest and most ambitious graduates.

Graduates, managers and aspiring managers will be required to sit a formal entrance exam. The scheme aims to cut the time it takes a graduate to become a director or chief executive from an average of 25 years to just 10.

The Government has a long standing target of reducing the average age of chief executives from 56 to 36 in the belief that a younger group will be more dynamic and eager to push through central government’s agenda.

Exam papers are currently being set for 2017. Below are some questions from a draft paper.

Which word best describes the public sector ethos?

  • Businesslike
  • Political
  • Outdated
  • Altruistic

Which one?

  • Efficiency or effectiveness
  • Professionals or politicians
  • Equal opportunity or meritocracy
  • Ronaldo or Messi

Performance management

  • Can you judge a football team without seeing them play?
  • What are the three colours in the traffic light system?
  • How many red lights make a district?

Which is more important?

  • The organisation’s image and reputation or the job security of whistleblowers
  • Loyalty to your boss or your career prospects
  • Pay rise or impressive new job title

Which method do you most favour for making budget savings?

  • Closing libraries
  • Closing old peoples’ homes
  • Delaying road repairs (potholes)
  • Outsourcing all back office services
  • Moving to monthly bin collections
  • Selling off parks
  • Shunting costs to NHS
  • Ban the printing off of emails
  • All of the above

Is it better to…?

  • Keep the leader happy and upset the chief executive
  • Be better thought of by colleagues than politicians
  • Have loved and lost than never to have loved at all
  • Have a big under-spend rather than a small over-spend

Complete the following sentence

  • Old age is to be ________
  • Targets are essential because ____________
  • Some of my best friends are __________
  • Educating the children of the poor is __________

Which one word best describes you?

  • Flexible
  • Creative
  • Resolute
  • Nice

Which of these statements most reflects your management style?

  • Rules apply to other people
  • Rules are there for a reason
  • Rules can be bent. So can politicians.

List the following in order of most detrimental to society

  • Payday loans
  • Food banks
  • Zero hours contracts
  • Bankers bonuses
  • Benefit scrounges
  • Tax dodgers
  • People who sing loudly and out of tune throughout musicals

What is the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion

  • Up to 10 years

  • A good accountant
  • One is illegal the other immoral

Which saying best sums up your management philosophy?

  • Who dares wins

  • Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas

  • Plan for success, prepare for failure

Results fall into four categories. You know who you are:

1. You are already a senior manager and took the exam to see how accurate /rubbish it was

2. You knew the answers you were supposed to give but chose not to give them. You are recently retired or about to be made redundant.

3. You have potential but your ‘values’ will hold you back. Decide what you really want.

4. You lack a moral compass, are over confident and very ambitious – beware the Ides of March.

Blair McPherson is a former local authority director

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