Working in the Culture and Structure of the Public Service


Public Sector Service

When we work in the public sector our role is to support and provide service to a range of stakeholders.  This includes serving the public, the Parliament, our Minister and the government of the day, our cluster/agency, other organisations and our colleagues.  We are responsible for providing relevant, responsive and quality service and we do this in a way which reflects our core values.  While every agency and Department is different, the NSW public sector has some common principles we all work with which make it a good place to work and to receive service from.  Learning how it all works can make the transition to the public sector easier.

Many roles in the public sector require a good understanding of how government works and how to work with stakeholders both – both internal and external – to our organisation.  It is important that employees know what each of the three layers of government – local, state and federal- are responsible for and how they interact.  Knowing about the roles and responsibilities of individuals, committees and other groups in government provides people with the context for some of their work, such as writing Ministerials, briefing notes, developing policy or communicating with the Minister’s Office.

The NSW Public Service Vision is to have a highly capable public sector workforce characterized by a culture of integrity, trust, service and accountability.  Often organisational values are great slogans on the walls or in corporate documentation.  To make them “living values” every employee must be able to translate them to actions they carry out in their own role.  This is an important component of how the government will achieve the 2021 goals.

The public sector also has an important role in setting high standards for work practises and workplace culture.  Staff need to be familiar with the key legislation and principles people apply while at work, including equal employment opportunity, equity and diversity principles, social justice, natural justice and procedural fairness.  These important principles apply to all our work in the public service including delivering service, recruitment, training and development, work allocation, resolving service issues and complaints and ensuring fair allocation of resources.  Many of these principles go towards the development of a fair, equitable and diverse workforce which represents the community we serve. 

This means ensuring we get the most from working in a diverse team requires some thought and effort from all team members so a harmonious and productive team culture is developed.  There are many aspects to this in practice from being tolerant, building trust with strong communication through to delivery of quality work and gaining recognition for that.

Working with our stakeholders is also an important consideration in our day to day work in the public sector, whether we interact with them directly or indirectly.  This may require us to carefully consider methods for researching and analysing stakeholder’s needs and expectations.  The community we serve expects to engage with us on matters that affect them and often public servants need to guide them towards solutions that are underpinned by business objectives.  This is not always an easy task and requires people to have emotional intelligence and be effective communicators with skills in negotiation, conflict resolution, influence and problem solving.  Many of these skills can be learned through training, coaching and on the job experiences.

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