Introducing Eric Imbs, the new Head of Integrity for Wollondilly Shire Council
Wollondilly Shire Council has recently created the Office of Integrity and appointed the very first Head of Integrity, Eric Imbs.
The purpose of the Head of Integrity is to ensure Council is acting in accordance with policies such as the Code of Conduct, Protected Interest Disclosures, Fraud and Corruption. The Head of Integrity is also the final escalation point for complaints from the community.
We interviewed Eric Imbs to find out a bit more about his new role
What does Integrity mean and why is it important for local government?
Integrity is a foundational principle and behaviour that gives life to trust. When we act with integrity, we build trust; when we have trust with others, it makes so many things we do and decisions we make, easier and less complicated
As public servants in local government, from the day we were employed, there are whole communities who bestow their trust on us. They trust us to act in the best interests of the community.
By always acting with integrity, we demonstrate that we deserve their trust. In each interaction, by leading with integrity, we remove a lot of invisible barriers and open the doors to positive and co-operative relationships. The end result is a more efficient and effective operation of council and safe and happy staff and community.
As you are stepping into a new role at Wollondilly, what do you hope to achieve in the next 12 months?
My main aim is to co-create an environment where it is easy for everyone to act with integrity - an environment where there is no such thing as a dumb question and people are encouraged to speak up if they are unsure of what to do or when they are making difficult decisions.
I really want to support the staff in building fair resolutions to issues and solving problems.
I’ll also be focusing on policy reviews, looking at procedures such as complaint handling, Code of Conduct, Fraud and Corruption, ensuring that we are delivering over and above a standard the community expects from us.
I’ll know I’ve had a successful year if the next 12 months are spent building strong relationships with the team, helping them to trust themselves and ensuring all of our policies and procedures support and strengthen co-operative relationships internally and externally with our community.
What excites you about working at Wollondilly Shire Council?
The ability to reach more people, more often and support them daily in the work that they do. This is a huge benefit of working in a smaller organisation and is personally very satisfying for me.
One of the things you can’t get in bigger organisations is the close and frequent interaction with staff and the community. In my line of work, this is so important in terms of what I do, but also how I feel about my work.
Since joining, I’ve found the openness and honesty of the people I’ve met to be remarkable and reaffirms my decision come to Wollondilly.
What advice do you have for other councils who are navigating challenging times but still want to deliver outstanding service to the community?
As simple as it is, I would encourage everyone, leaders especially, to stay in touch with your people. Calls, online meetings, texts, whatever you can do to let them know they are still adding value and are integral part of a team.
With workplace social distancing, we’ve lost the physical connections that typically structured and added variety to our days - the coffee catch ups, the impromptu team huddles and even the odd birthday cake here and there. Without these connections, it is easy for individuals to lose motivation, feel disconnected and disengaged, which then lead to drops in productivity. It is therefore crucial that leaders use whatever means possible to increase their contact with their team and encourage their team to do the same.