The secret of our success: getting the right people in the right roles working in the right way

A feature sponsored by Bucks County Council

The adult social care team at Bucks County Council is confident they’re getting it right. Here’s how.

Alison Bulman is the service director – service provision, adult social care, for Buckinghamshire County Council. She moved to work in Buckinghamshire 13 years ago from Swansea and even though she now lives in Portsmouth, she commutes – so strong is her sense of pride in, and commitment to, the work they’re doing.

And whilst it may sound simple, she puts their success down to a relatively uncomplicated formula. By getting the right people in the right roles, working in the right way, for the right reasons means they’re achieving the right results.

Here Ali talks more about why they’re doing it right and what that means to their service users and the people that work there.

Ambitious and Creative

“Bucks County Council is a brave and commercially minded council. This is an attitude that’s reflected at all levels. Chris Williams, our chief executive, is open and accessible – often meeting with frontline staff. It’s refreshing, inspiring and instils a sense of confidence, as he really knows what’s going on at all levels across the organisation. One of the reasons we’ve reformed the leadership team (within Adult Social Care) recently was to ensure we have cohesive working across the service areas and give greater empowerment to our people through the formal scheme of delegation. Time delays occur when people can’t make appropriate decisions. This new structure gives clear lines of direction, so that people can act decisively and get things done. It’s changed the way we operate and has given everyone a new found autonomy and respect.

Taking the initiative

“And because of this we’re able to roll out initiatives with even greater effect. Our ‘In Touch’ and ‘Prevention Matters’ schemes make sure that residents as well as our service users are getting more help than ever out in the community so that as well as being known to us, we’re able to address their needs as they arise and prevent or delay the need for statutory traditional services. Every step of the way we’re working to create greater opportunities and independence so that vulnerable adults can live independently for as long as possible. Our ‘My Life, My Home’ ensures we have the right housing options to support people with learning or physical disabilities to live independently and have their own front door, after all that’s what independence means to so many people. Their own front door.

“What’s interesting is that when I first joined the council, we were named and shamed as a failing authority. Now, we’re surpassing national performance statistics and we have other authorities coming to us for advice and guidance. That speaks volumes, because we’re obviously doing something right.

Right Values and Behaviours

“And whilst doing right by our service users is of paramount importance, we also want to do right by our people. Since we’ve shaken things up, there’s a greater engagement with the workforce. People are actively encouraged to make informed decisions and this has had a really positive impact on morale. Naturally, things aren’t perfect. I hold monthly meetings with employee reps and annual Engagement Workshops and it’s my chance to listen to how people really feel. I enjoy the honesty of these meetings and good things come from them. And when we need to address issues and where hurdles need to be overcome, we tackle things head on. It’s the way we do things here.

“It’s important to us that we do a great job, but we also recognise this just isn’t possible unless we achieve the right work-life balance. This means we consider flexible working to accommodate the busy lives our people lead. So whilst we work hard, we also try and balance this with a good quality of life. Ultimately though our efforts are rewarded by seeing what a difference we’re making to our service users.

Right People and Career Opportunities

“When I joined back in 2001, I took a bit of a side-step to support my husband’s move. Since then I’ve had eight different roles as the council’s looked to play to my strengths and support me in my career progression. Where possible we look to support, develop and progress from within. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking for people from outside to help us continue in the work we’re doing. New people means we gain a different perspective, so we’re always looking for people with the right skills who are keen to join a council that embraces those who have a passion and enthusiasm for what we’re trying to achieve. Having moved here from Swansea, I instantly felt at ease within the county. And contrary to popular belief, there are affordable places to live here too. And now, even though I live in and commute from Portsmouth, I’m committed to continue with my career in Buckinghamshire. I feel like part of the Bucks family and I’ve no intention of moving. When something’s right for you, there’s simply no need.”

Buck County Council is currently recruiting for a number of vacancies. To find out more and apply, please visit

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