A smile on your face and a song in your heart …

Interested in joining a work choir?

The search is on for individuals who would be up for committing a few hours per week to sing.

The idea is that the Council’s choir will perform a couple of songs at a charity concert on 15th May.  The concert is for a local social care charity, VSA who pride themselves on bringing together other local charities to ensure that the people in Aberdeen are provided with the best of care.

We can support the charity by getting our friends and families along to the concert on the 15th.  In return, while VSA can’t quite promise us Gareth Malone, they do have the support of some local music legends who will join the rehearsals and mentor the choir.

Our mentor will likely be free for evening rehearsals, and it’s up to us to choose our song choices.

If you’re interested and want to find out more contact Ella Towns (ejtowns@aberdeencity.gov.uk)  The choir is looking for both male and female voices.

Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress

A quick note to draw your attention to the EU Safety and Health at Work Week which is taking place from 19th – 23rd October, with the theme of ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Stress’.

The Health, Safety & Wellbeing Team have organised several sessions on managing stress taking place throughout the week.  Topics include practical workshops on Quality of Working Lives Stress Risk Assessments, HSE Management Behaviour and HSE Behaviours. 

These events are free to attend and are aimed at supervisors and managers. To find out more about EU Safety and Health at Work Week and to book your place to attend any of the sessions, please click on the link below:


There is also additional information on stress available on the Zone, click on the links below:




One Walk Aberdeen

Back in June I wrote about bringing together a team to participate in the JDRF sponsored walk at Drum castle on 27th September https://www.jdrf.org.uk/get-involved/join-in-an-event/walks/one-walk-aberdeen

I’m delighted to say that we now have a team in place – step forward Mark Reilly, Pete Leonard, Steven Shaw, David Leslie, Martin Wyllie, Ian Mitchell, Allison Cooper, Fiona Allardice, Sandy Scott, Fraser Bell and Tom Cowan.  There’s still time to join up, drop me a line.

In the meantime, all contributions to the cause are welcome and are very easily made.  Just follow this link and click Donate: https://www.justgiving.com/teamACC/ 



Out and About

When I spoke at the Star Awards event earlier this month I mentioned just how important my visits to staff teams across the City are to me and indeed how they are often the most inspiring part of my working week.

This week sees a varied range as I dropped into Mastrick Social Services Centre on Monday, I’m with the Accord Card Team today and with the Educational Psychology Service tomorrow.  I finish the week with a visit to the fleet workshop to thank the team there for all the improvements made following on from the Traffic Commissioner Public Hearing.

As ever, if you’d like me to visit your team so I can find out from you and your colleagues about the work you’re doing serving the people of Aberdeen drop me a line at chiefexecutive@aberdeencity.gov.uk and we’ll set something up.


Give Blood

I’m delighted to let you know that the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (https://www.scotblood.co.uk/) will be running a blood donation session for Council staff and elected members at Marischal College on Monday 10th August.  The session will take place in Room 4-W-01, it will run all day and there will be four beds set up to take donations.

The impetus for this link with the Transfusion Service has come through colleagues who are aware that the son of a staff member at the Maritime Museum is currently undergoing treatment for leukaemia.  The child has so far received 37 units of blood over the course of his treatment and I think this brings into sharp focus for all of us just how great the ongoing demand for blood donations is.

As it happens, traditionally blood donations drop by approximately 20% over the summer period so every donation is even more gratefully received at this time. 

When the idea of this session was originally floated there was fantastic feedback with just short of 200 colleagues expressing an interest in donating.  I appreciate that the chosen date may not suit everyone, but I’m confident that there will be an excellent response.  Watch out on the Zone for information on how you’ll be able to book your place at the session.

We’re going to continue our link with the Blood Transfusion Service and hope to have two-day sessions with them every six months going forward so the Council’s support for their vital work can be maximised.  I urge everyone who can to get involved in donating.

One Walk Aberdeen

I recently attended the corporate launch at the Town House for this year’s JDRF One Walk Aberdeen, a 5k walk taking place on Sunday 27th September at Drum Castle. There’s more information on the walk and the work of the juvenile diabetes research foundation here https://goo.gl/O7F0ni

I’ve committed to bring together an Aberdeen City Council ECMT team to raise sponsorship and to take on the walk, but it would be great if more Council teams were formed and joined us at Drum Castle on the day.  If you and your colleagues are interested drop me a line.


Out and about

As we move towards the New Year, thoughts are beginning to turn to the diary for 2015. One of the commitments I’ve asked my office to make for me is to ensure that I have time each month to make visits to colleagues at their places of work across the City as well as around Marischal College and the Town House.

Most recently I have followed up a visit I made to the staff at Duthie Park with one to colleagues working at Hazlehead Park.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet the teams working on planting schemes at the park and those undertaking tree works there.  It was encouraging to hear of the plans there are for the park, the tremendous partnership working underway with the Friends of Hazlehead Park group and the exciting links being made with the local schools and others.  I’m looking forward to visiting again to hear about progress, although I might try for a summer’s day rather than one in deepest December.

In the meantime I’ve accepted an invitation from Steven Shaw to visit Seaton Park early in the New Year to find out more about what he and his teams are doing there.

If you and your colleagues would like to invite me to visit you where you work, have a word with your manager and drop my office a line at chiefexecutive@aberdeencity.gov.uk


Have your say

A gentle reminder that the Employee Opinion Survey is due to close on Friday 12th December. If you’ve not yet taken the opportunity to fill in the questionnaire I would urge you to do so.

As I said on the blog just before the Survey was launched, whilst structures, strategies and systems are all important, we will only be successful if we all feel positive and engaged.  It’s vitally important therefore for me to understand your experience of working for Aberdeen City Council and whether that experience would lead you to promote the Council as an employer.

Give me your thoughts, when the report is published read the feedback and then work with me and your colleagues to make a difference where change is needed.



Shaping Aberdeen – Shaping the Council

From Monday 10th November the latest Employee Opinion Survey is open for responses and I would be delighted to hear your views.

I’ve been in post as Chief Executive since 1st July and I’m very mindful that one of my first communications with staff was around the organisational restructure, setting out how I’d like to organise work.  As I’ve said before, whilst structures, strategies and systems are all important, we will only be successful if we all feel positive and engaged.  It’s vitally important therefore for me to understand your experience of working for Aberdeen City Council and whether that experience would lead you to promote the Council as an employer.

I also recognise that in addition to being a member of staff many of us will be customers of the Council and I’m equally interested in getting your views on experiencing the Council as a customer.

The Employee Opinion Survey is entirely confidential, no-one’s responses will be singled out in the analysis of the results.  To ensure this, we are working with an accredited external research organisation, BMG, who will collate and analyse the results.  No contact details will be collected and the findings within the final results and report will be anonymous.

Alongside the main survey you will also find a short additional questionnaire covering diversity and equality issues within the Council.  As with the main survey, participation is optional and your response will be treated in strictest confidence.  The results will be used to help us assess what we are doing well in relation to diversity and equality in employment and what we could do better, helping ensure that all employees are treated equally in accordance with our responsibilities under the Equality Act.

Your input will help to identify what’s working and what’s not.  All staff will receive the results from the survey in early 2015 and it’s important that we all reflect on what the results tell us about our organisation and then consider what we could do differently to improve everyone’s experience of working for Aberdeen City Council.

I do hope that you will take the opportunity to share your views and experiences.  The Survey will be open for responses until Friday 12th December

Information on the Survey will appear on the Zone.  Colleagues without on-line access will receive hard-copy survey packs.


Phase II Restructure – tell us your thoughts

Marischal College

Marischal College

As we’re now into the second of the four weeks of consultation on phase 2 of the restructure of the council’s management arrangements, I wanted to take the opportunity to once again invite you to join the conversation and let me know what you think of the proposed groupings of functions that are suggested for the Heads of Service.

I’m interested to hear from you about what you think will work, where you think there might be opportunities to do something different and as importantly what pitfalls should be avoided.

I appreciate that restructures can cause anxiety and have the potential to be destabilising, but I and the rest of the CMT aim to work at a pace that both offers the opportunity for meaningful engagement while at the same time allowing decisions to be taken so that we can move on to the next stage.

Phase 3 will be of direct, personal interest to many more of you across the council than the first two phases and I will ensure that there are ample opportunities for feedback and discussion as the Directors and Heads of Service get to grips with the detailed structures to be put in place within the Heads of Service portfolios.

One final point, the way we structure ourselves is clearly important and the changes that are proposed are necessary and will in my view improve outcomes for the people we all serve, but to my mind as important if not more important is the way we go about our business.  The culture of the organisation and the inter-relationships between  us within the Council are key to our success and that is where my focus will be as we move forward.

I look forward to our conservation on that topic.