The 2016 Rural Management Challenge was hosted by the Tablelands Regional Council on the 6th of October. As well as covering the costs of participation and travel, the scholarship enabled an additional buddy-up day with staff from the Tablelands Regional Council – to pack in as much LG experience and learning as possible.
The Rural Management Challenge is designed to enable local government professionals working in rural councils to take part in experiential learning and team building activities. The Challenge provides real-life problem-solving experiences, creating outcomes that translate into relevant, tangible and enduring benefits for individuals, teams and their organisations.
‘Taking part in the Challenge really pushed the participants right across the emotional spectrum. First they were all excited, with some bravado perhaps, then agitated, then anxious. Everyone had to work at containing their reactions to being in such an uncomfortable situation, and really refocus themselves on getting the best outcomes for the team. When it came to performing – just nerve-racking! But I think they surprised themselves. It was very satisfying,’ says Naseem Chetty, the team mentor. Naseem has been with Mornington as HR Manager for 2 years now, however has spent 11 years in local government working with Indigenous communities. ‘Just participating is winning. When you’re not in the game, you don’t know where you’re at.’
‘Growth in people who’ve gone through the Challenge – with all its crammed-in learning – is immense.’ Sometimes, being in a situation outside of a person’s comfort zone can make them retreat, however the Challenge – even when things haven’t gone to plan – has enabled the team members to take positive steps to address the gaps in their capabilities. One example is Andrew Thompson, Mornington’s Executive Manager of Infrastructure and Technical Services, who after his experience on the team in 2015, decided he needed more academic training. Now Andrew has a Diploma in Project Management! This year’s participation in the Challenge inspired both Wendie and Jade to enrol in a Cert IV in Leadership and Management.
Another important realisation to come out of the Challenge for this year’s team is the importance of planning and time management – prioritising what and when. Seeing other teams use focus and structure to achieve a lot in a short amount of time, really drove that realisation home, as did the consequences of not planning. Knowing you could have done better is a lesson none of us forget.
During the Challenge I kept thinking, “Next year we should do this”, “We have to concentrate on time management for the next year’s Challenge”, “Next time, we have to do this differently, do this the same”. I had so many thoughts and ideas I could probably be a mentor’s assistant rather than a competitor!
Buddy-up day was good too. You get to meet people and you realise that all your little worries are the same ones every other participant suffers from too. It’s good to know that you are not the only one feeling nervous or stressed by the Challenge – before it has even begun!
The most important thing I’ve learnt is that Robyn [Robyn Walker from LGMA QLD which creates the tasks the teams are required to complete and runs the Rural Challenge] has a crafty mind! And if I do go to next year’s challenge, I will NOT assume to “know what to expect”.’