On the eve of the opening of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Vladimir Mau gave an interview to the public service portal
The business program of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum to be held June 2-5, 2021, will include a session titled “Client Centered Public Administration” (National Development Goals: from Challenges to Results). Ahead of the forum, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration Vladimir Mau spoke about the key principles of the client-centered approach in public administration.
– Vladimir Alexandrovich, what is the client centered approach in the context of public authorities’ work? What exactly would change in the relationship between people and the state if it becomes client-centred?
– Client-centered approach implies that the government builds its policy in such a way as to effectively respond to human needs, to offer quality and in-demand services. The needs of citizens become as important to the state as the needs of the client in business. The ideal situation is the one where a person gets the best possible solution for any life situation instantly through a convenient channel of interaction. At the same time, he does not need to understand the functions and powers of different state bodies. These principles fit very clearly into the national projects and the approaches that have already been announced by the Government.
– What are the qualities of civil servants working in a client-centred paradigm?
– Whereas a certain set of standards already exists for designing public services, such a system of rules or standards has yet to be created for day-to-day activities of a public servant. The most important task here is to develop communications between a person and public authorities. Particular attention should be paid to the language of communication: official documents are often written in such a way that they are difficult to understand. However, for a citizen, any communication with the state must be adequate and understandable. Herewith, it is important to consider not only external interactions of the authorities, but also inter-agency relations as an area for elaboration. In order to change the situation, the Presidential Academy at the Graduate School of Public Administration developed educational programs titled The State Speaks and We Answer to the Citizens. These programs designed specifically for civil servants are very popular with students, both at the federal level and in the regions.
– The introduction of new working principles will certainly require an internal restructuring of relationships and processes within the authorities. What exactly are the changes that need to take place?
– It is worth mentioning the importance of introducing an improved personnel cycle in the public administration system, which will help make the state one of the most attractive employers, including for talented young people. The HR cycle includes new selection procedures, an individualized learning trajectory, and personalized development goals that affect pay and advancement. We are talking about serious re-engineering of all human resources work. The experience of some state corporations that have carried out serious work to reorganize their HR services and implemented a modern HR cycle over the last decades, can be interesting and useful. Implementing such an approach in the civil service would attract more talents, facilitate individualization of employee development and training trajectories — and significantly improve team effectiveness.
When shaping the image of the state as an attractive employer, interests and priorities of young people should be taken into account. Our research shows that young people are not only focused on income when choosing an occupation: what matters to them is the work/life balance, the availability of flexible hours, career options, the ability to manage their own trajectory, the quality of the team, stability and reliability. We have to take all of this into account.
– Do state and municipal employees need additional training and special skills in order to work in a client-centered approach, or is it enough to change the approach to doing their job?
– The client-centered approach implies not only an evolution in mindset and internal culture, but also the need to adopt a set of operating and management principles that are more familiar to commercial organizations. This involves re-engineering of processes both at the organization and interdepartmental level, elaboration of interaction channels with citizens-clients, restructuring of organizational and management culture, introduction of quality management system (in our case, the management of quality of public services). Relevant educational programs for managers and teams are already being developed and implemented at the RANEPA.
The client-centered approach in public administration also means higher demands on the competencies and personal qualities of a manager at any level. In today’s digital world, the role of the executive is seriously changing. This applies in full to the Public and Municipal Administration System. Rapid changes are a reality of this world, and the manager is responsible for ensuring that the organization's activities are aligned with its strategic development goals, that the organizational culture of the team and the entire organization changes in line with current challenges, and that a client-centered approach works not only in relationships with citizens but also in interdepartmental interactions.