Mark Thomas - New Mayor for Auckland

CEO’s Targets Must Measure What Aucklanders Care About

Auckland Council’s second CEO has been in place for nearly 20 months and this week worked started preparing his performance targets for 2016.

In the ‘real world’, outside of council, these sorts of targets would usually be in place to coincide with the start of the new financial year (1 July), and the 10-year budget we have just spent 18 months finalizing.

This week the council committee that reviews the CEO’s performance discussed, among other things, how they don’t meet that often (‘scheduling issues’!) and that discussions about the CEO’s performance were tricky to have in public. Although apparently “robust” discussions have been had in private.

Somewhat oddly, the Mayor doesn’t chair this irregularly meeting committee (he’s the Deputy Chair).

Of course any preparation of the CEO’s 2016 targets, need to take account of how he is going with his current ones. Again oddly, there wasn’t much discussion about that – despite the new HR Director having prepared a fuller than usually overview of what the CEO’s been up to.

For the record, his current targets cover 4 key dimensions:

1) Long Term Plan: including that the new priorities are clearly understood by the community

2) One Organisation: lead the council “family” as one organisation

3) High Performing Organisation: including all agreed plans being efficiently delivered, systems & process provide a positive experience for ratepayers, and open & transparent council processes

4) Effective Governance: building Auckland Council’s reputation as a professional, ethical, effective, efficient local authority

So how do you think the CEO is going to fare at performance review time?

Interestingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the words rates, transport or growth don’t appear anywhere in these targets.  The targets are overwhelmingly internally focussed and they don’t do a good job of reflecting the issues Aucklanders really care about.

Of course the current Mayor agreed these targets with the CEO.

The success of the Mayor is intricately linked to that of his CEO, and so at the meeting we heard the Mayor’s typically enthusiastic comments about how well everything is going. It’s unlikely the CEO is going to get a poor review on his current targets.

But the issue is less about the CEO and more about the quality of the leadership he gets from the Mayor, and having the CEO and the organisation focus on the things that really matter for Auckland.

A New Leader for Auckland must agree targets with the CEO that do a much better job of reflecting the affordability, transport, growth and community engagement challenges and opportunities Auckland faces.


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