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Dale’s Diary: Sir Albert’s Tweetgate saga & Mr Rogers takes a holiday

Dale’s Diary: Sir Albert’s Tweetgate saga & Mr Rogers takes a holiday

🕔22.Jul 2015

It’s been reported many times that Sir Albert Bore doesn’t have much truck with social media.

He only recently graduated to a Twitter account, and then, somewhat reluctantly, to spread the Labour message in the run up to the General Election. Facebook, as far as anyone knows, remains a blank page to the leader of Birmingham city council.

But Sir Albert was straight out of the blocks when the Birmingham independent improvement panel published its latest gloomy assessment of the council’s very slow progress in delivering radical governance changes.

No sooner had my story about the city council being 12 weeks away from a possible takeover by Government commissioners hit the Chamberlain Files website than Sir Albert retweeted it – like a shot.


Retweets do not of course necessarily count as an endorsement, but when the leader of the council seeks to bring to the attention of his 1,124 high-end followers an article highly critical of his administration’s efforts then you have to ask what’s going on?

Was it an attempt at irony? Almost certainly not since Sir Albert is not renowned for being ironic.

Could it have been a subtle attempt to ‘get the message out there’ via a third party? Possibly.

Alas, the tweet disappeared almost as quickly as it appeared, to be replaced by a link to Sir Albert’s own press release insisting that the council is already picking up the pace and charging forward with its Kerslake reform programme. Nothing to see here, move along.

This opens up three possibilities. The first is that Sir Albert simply made a mistake and pressed the wrong button. This is impossible for two reasons. First, Sir Albert doesn’t make mistakes. He once thought he had done so, but was wrong. Second, important people like council leaders have a team behind them to deal with social media. The idea of Sir Albert trawling through the internet seeking items to retweet is ludicrous.

The second possibility is that some hapless apparatchik in the leader’s office messed up hitting the Twitter button on the Chamberlain Files site, immediately sending out a tweet from the account they were logged into at the time.

The second possibility, horror of horrors, is that Sir Albert’s Twitter account was hacked.

The hacking theory is, I am told, the favoured explanation among the council leader’s entourage.

But if Sir Albert was hacked, why did the hacking last only momentarily before normal service was resumed? And if you were going to hack the leader’s account surely you would do something a little bit more daring than simply retweeting a Chamberlain Files story?

These and many other questions remain to be answered as the inevitable Tweetgate inquiry gets underway.

Mark Rogers, the chief executive of Birmingham city council, is spending a couple of weeks relaxing in the sun. And who can possibly blame him for taking a foreign holiday given the weight of expectation piled on to his shoulders?

Chamberlain Files has no time for attention-seeking hair shirt politicos that insist on holidaying in some cold, rainy, UK hell-hole because they think it’s the right thing to do.

And full credit to Rogers, the most engaging of chief executives, who before he jetted off took the trouble to publish details of his latest personal development programme assessment.

The 360 degree assessment requires participants to ask the their line manager, their peers, a range of other key individuals across the organisation and a number of partners and stakeholders to complete a questionnaire that scores how they perform in relation to nine business critical areas:

  • Are we true to our word?
  • Do we act courageously?
  • Do we put citizens first?
  • Do we achieve excellence?
  • Are we shaping the future?
  • Do we demonstrate positive leadership?
  • Do we promote positive collaboration?
  • Are we raising performance?
  • Are we driving innovation and improvement?

The scoring system awards 1 point for almost never, 2 for sometimes, three for often and 4 for almost always. Rogers top-scored for giving his best every day (3.86), treating people with complete respect and understanding (3.82), displaying a human touch (3.73), inspiring people to act in the interests of Birmingham (3.70) and actively building networks outside of the council (3.70).

His lowest scores were for identifying, attracting, developing and retaining talent (2.94), promptly addressing problems (2.91), helping people to improve performance by giving ongoing feedback (2.88), giving people ongoing coaching to help them improve (2.82) and promptly addressing under-performance (2.65).

Rogers reports that he will be thinking about the following ways to improve while soaking up the sun:

  • Challenging under-performance – do I take too long weighing things up before acting on them?
  • Dealing with issues – do I wait too long to make up my mind about how to proceed?
  • Address non-alignment – am I too tolerant of those, especially more senior colleagues, who have yet to sign up fully to Future Council and corporateness?
  • Giving more feedback and coaching to help the improvement of performance – should I stop assuming that colleagues will just “get it”?
  • Creating more thinking time – should I create more opportunities to think beautiful strategic thoughts?
  • Being clear about the priorities – am I too suggestible to new initiatives?

He says he will also consider if being a “try hard person” is just too much and whether he should switch off more often.

Possibly, rather than thinking beautiful strategic thoughts, he should take a tip from the Chamberlain Files bible of corporateness – while on leave buy a trashy book, hire a sun bed, and chill.

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