[2014] Mayor’s Speech

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  • A Well-arranged personnel administration is the key to people’s happiness.

    SMG 563
  • A session for explaining a new personnel innovation-related proposal to the press

    Date: 12/2/2014
    Venue: Briefing Room, Seoul City Hall


    Members of the press and Seoul citizens,
    We at the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) have started an effort for a well-arranged personnel administration as the fourth round of innovative efforts for the next 100 years. The first round of the efforts was focused on a commitment to honesty and integrity. When announcing the second round, we promised that the SMG would put an end to the ruler-subject relationship in connection with all those cooperating within the city. At the third round, we expressed the resolve that Seoul City officials, along with those at SMG-invested institutions, would become real friends with citizens.

    Today, I am here to announce the fourth round: innovative personnel administration with the belief that well-arranged personnel administration is the key to people’s happiness.

    My ideas about innovative personnel administration began with asking makes us need innovation in personnel administration. It is expected that the City of Seoul will experience a great change in its personnel structure over the next six years. Among baby-boomers, who account for 31% of the SMG officials, about 10,000 people will retire by 2020. We need to establish a supply-demand strategy about such a change. Also, Seoul is rapidly turning into a multicultural society. Seoul has moved up its rank to sixth in terms of international competitiveness in urban functions and people’s activities. Innovation in personnel administration focused on securing talented people is an objective that we must attain to make Seoul a more competitive city in the area of sustainable growth as in other areas.

    The SMG needs to take a leading role in the matter of reinforcing public officials’ expertise amid the need to ease people’s concerns about safety as well as to cope with diverse administrative requirements positively. The goal of having public officials secure their expertise has a long way to go, particularly due to the practice of frequently transferring them to new positions. This results in people’s dissatisfaction with the level of administrative services. Seoul City officials are voicing their wish to see an innovative change in personnel administration. There have been many changes even in the values held by individual officials. They now see the importance in enhancing the quality of their lives and maintaining horizontal relationships with the people they work with. However, according to a recent survey, an authority-based culture is still in place and it goes without saying that the situation must be improved.

    We will start taking the first step for innovative personnel administration immediately. We will not lose the golden time for innovation. Above all, we will explore talented people with global competitiveness.
    We will cope with the void made by the retirement of baby-boomer officials. We will train professional officials competent enough to solve problems for people. We will build an organizational culture, where everyone can work happily, knowing that it will lay the basis for people’s happiness.

    Even in my previous term (Oct. 2011 – Jun. 2014), positive efforts were made for innovation in personnel administration. First of all, we announced six leading factors of personnel evaluation criteria: fairness, communication, responsibility, satisfaction, cogency, and emphasis on growth. We established a basic plan for training talented Seoul City officials, defined desirable officials as those with service-mindedness, expertise, creativity, and a willingness to cooperate with others, and laid the groundwork for training talented people ranging from recruitment to retirement. We also took steps to improve organizational culture including invigorating workplace flexibility.

    Now, we intend to upgrade our efforts one notch higher. For this, we talked to citizens, experts, and Seoul City officials. We took steps towards innovation in personnel administration to make people happier and help organizations within the SMG and their components grow further. We launched a task force, where experts, officials, and labor union members could take part, for innovation in personnel administration during my current term (Jun. 14 – Jun. 2018). We have held discussion sessions on several occasions. We listened to officials’ opinions. Many people agreed to the ideas adopted by the task force concerning innovation in personnel administration. Through the innovation in personnel administration, we will make Seoul a people-centered city and a city where people feel happy. Under our plan, about 5,370 Seoul City officials, accounting for 54% of the entire work force, will serve as professionals, providing first-rate administrative service to citizens by 2020.

    We will strive to attain that target by exploring talented people earnestly, reinforcing officials’ expertise, operating an open personnel system, providing support for customized education, and establishing an organization with a pleasant atmosphere.

    We will adopt a new paradigm as required by this new era. We will leave behind the era of public officials with a wide range of general knowledge and skills and move into the era of those with expertise. Only a small number of officials will be subject to the practice of frequent transfer to new positions if required to push them to work harder or avoid corruption or unethical practices.

    We need to cope with the requirements of the current era and people. Helping public officials secure expertise is also required to make them feel satisfied. Seoul City officials should lead others in such a change required by the new era to help people live in peace and in better conditions. This is our duty.

    Under the aforesaid plan, we will increase the percentage of Seoul City Specialist Officials from the current 14.7% to 30.6% and the percentage of Professional Officials from the current 1.9% to 23.7% by 2020. “Specialist Officials” refer to those assigned to duties that require special knowledge and experience, and “Professional Officials” those who have accumulated experience in specific areas like welfare or transportation.

    Even for the general officials, we will make an arrangement to let them stay in an area on a long-term basis to be general administrators with professional knowledge and skills.

    We will strive to explore talented people to turn the crisis resulting from the void created by 10,000 retiring baby-boomers into an opportunity to train new talented people by means of openness and diversity in the recruitment of officials. We will recruit talented people with global mindedness willing to work for citizens and open a new page with creative ideas.

    In the area of exploring talented people, we will focus on four factors. First of all, we will offer jobs to non-Koreans. We need those with global capabilities to attain the goal of sustainable growth, keeping abreast of leading cities all over the world. As part of this effort, we will recruit a hundred talented people including non-Koreans and ethnic Koreans by 2020. We will provide strong support for them like role mentoring to help them adapt to the existing organization without difficulty.

    The number one hundred may not be enough, considering the rapid trend of Seoul becoming a multicultural society. However, our attempt has significance. We will set an example for other local governments to follow in the recruitment of talented people from all over the world.

    In addition, we will hire 400 contract-based officials, 100 lawyers and accountants, and 200-some with experience in specific areas by 2020 under the plan to fill the void created by retiring officials with expertise. The procedure for recruitment will be managed strictly. One-on-one interviews will be carried out to assess the candidates’ capabilities.

    We will fulfill our obligation to hire the socially underprivileged, including the handicapped, those from low-income households, and high-school graduates. Under the law, local governments are required to have handicapped individuals as 3% of the entire work force. We at the SMG are striving to have them and those from low-income households represent up to 10% of those hired annually. As for high-school graduates, we are planning to expand the scope of their recruitment among Grade-9 positions to enhance their percentage to up to 30% of those newly recruited annually. So far we have hired them from those who graduated from high school in Seoul, but are planning to lift that restriction as well.

    A more systematic operation will be adopted in recruitment and test management. Eight to nine people will be hired annually for specific positions requiring special knowledge. Fifty people will be hired for Grade-7 administrative positions. For Grade-7 technical positions, the number of people equal to 10% of the entire work force will be hired annually. Efforts will be made to maintain balance between Grade-7 and 9 positions. We are considering establishing a team dedicated to the management of recruitment tests.

    With regards to the need to have Seoul City officials strengthen their specialty, we encourage officials to become troubleshooters, innovators, and experts in order to serve people more efficiently and cope with the rapidly changing world.

    Those newly hired in 2015 and thereafter will be subject to the assignment management system. They are to go through a three-year exploration period. After the said period, they will be made to select a specialty area out of ten areas in five categories and continue to develop their career in that area.

    We plan to train a thousand Seoul City Specialist Officials by 2020. We will have offices and bureaus at the SMG to set up a target for training these specialists and select them on a monthly basis, making these selected people stay in an area for at least three years to build their specialty. We will provide incentives like allowances to these specialists. We will encourage them to enhance their level of specialties through long-term service. We will adopt a job type-based assignment management system, with different periods of staying in a job applied based on the nature of the jobs. Special incentives like promotions and bonuses will be given to those with good performance records over a long period of service. We will help them stay in their jobs on a long-term basis according to their wishes.

    Now, I would like to talk about the need for open personnel operation. As the old Chinese epigram puts it, “When a series of changes has run its course, another change ensues. When it obtains a free course, it will continue for a long while.” The officials should remain as open wide as anywhere else. Open communication and sharing is the KEY for a change in the officials.

    Under our plan for open personnel operation, we will check the level of specialty acquired by those applying for important positions on an open competition basis. For those applying for 10 Grade-4 and 50 Grade-5 positions and so on, about 5% of the important positions will be made to go through an interview with civilian experts to have their capability examined and then through an interview with high-ranking officials.

    We will strive to make personnel matter-related paths open through dialogues with employees. We will fully utilize the Mayor’s Counseling Room for uninterrupted online communications. We will hold onsite sessions for discussion about personnel policies on at least six occasions a year to listen to the opinions of frontline officials.

    We will strive further to invigorate human exchanges between relevant offices, for example between the SMG and autonomous district offices, between Seoul and other cities, and between local and central governments, based on the belief that win-win development comes from mutual understanding. We will strive for a balanced human resources arrangement between the SMG and autonomous district offices for a more efficient linkage in planning and execution functions and expand opportunities for exchanges for win-win development of both. We are also hoping to start exchanges with the City of Jeju.

    We all should continue to learn to let in a whirlwind of innovation and to be good officials engaging in great projects through a customized education plan. For this purpose, we will establish a mid and long-term plan for educating talented people through the diagnosis of the level of human resources development (HMD). We will also develop relevant diagnosis tools and set up specific execution strategies.

    We will train administrative experts by carrying out a customized education using a job-based roadmap. We will develop relevant roadmaps further and reinforce job-capability education for technical officials transferring to general positions.

    We will strive to strengthen the global capabilities of both individual employees and the entire organization.
    So far we have dispatched officials mostly to the United States or the United Kingdom for long-term training, but we will diversify the destinations to countries in Europe and Asia. Starting in 2015, we will expand the scope of those eligible for dispatch to international organizations and foreign governments. To help them build their foreign language proficiency, we will adopt a new education and evaluation system in step with the diversification of their destinations.

    With regards to Seoul City officials retiring after years of hardworking, we will provide support for them to spend the rest of their lives more usefully and meaningfully. Such support provided to retiring officials is a proactive investment that will reduce social cost. To such an end, we will launch an educational course to help them design a second life and provide them with information on lifelong education. We will also strive to provide them with jobs and offer opportunities to contribute their skills.

    We will strive to foster conditions for a cheerful and pleasant organizational culture. It is a well-known story that Google was able to emerge as a world-class business thanks to its creative organizational culture. As for Southwest Airlines, its organizational culture stressing the importance of voluntariness and cheerfulness was a hidden factor behind its development as a first-rate business. Success stories like these tell us that even the officialdom can be reborn as a creative and flexible organization. There will be many obstacles, but we intend to set an example for others to follow.

    In the sector of organizational culture, we will reward officials with records of years of exemplary service with preferential treatment. We will increase the number of Grade-5 officials from the current 28 to 150 and increase the authorized strength of Grade-6 officials to help officials with records of years of exemplary service move up. We will discuss with the Ministry of the Interior to ensure that those with records of faithful service move up to at least Grade-6.

    We will encourage officials to change the organizational culture through voluntary participation. We will adopt systems for employees like workplace flexibility or naps allowed for those who were working late the day before. Recently, the flextime system adopted by the SMG won the Presidential Award at a session held by the Ministry of Personnel Management (MPM) for introduction of exemplary cases of personnel operation. We will do what we can to have the SMG’s efforts improve organizational culture nationwide.

    In an effort to make people in Seoul and Seoul City officials happy, we will launch a Smiling Seoul Campaign.
    We will make the Seoul City Hall a place that everyone likes to visit and explore exemplary cases of customer service provided by Seoul City officials. We will encourage Seoul City officials to enhance the level of their service-mindedness by benchmarking civilian educational programs for customer service. We will improve the office environment to encourage officials to think creatively.

    Office space influences the way employees think and act. Businesses separate their resting space from the work space in an effort to promote employees’ creative and flexible thinking. The Seoul City Hall does not provide sufficient individual employee work space and resting space. We will have the Personnel Management Division rearrange its current conventional spatial layout and use the extra space thus obtained as resting spaces for employees on a trial basis. If the arrangement is welcomed by the employees, we will expand the arrangement to other departments.

    We will push ahead with innovation in personnel administration through stages of introduction, improvement/development, and invigoration. We will continue to monitor the process so that it may proceed without interruption. I invite you to watch how we implement these innovations. Next time around, I will meet you again with the fifth round of innovative efforts. Thank you.

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