In our interview series “11 Questions for…” we ask people from in and around SDC and the KM world the same 11 questions. Our goal is to offer insights into different working methods, different ways of looking at individual and institutional learning, and different ideas and opinions on how to make organisations more efficient… And, along the way, to hear interesting stories and experiences our interviewees have in store!
Today: Ms Helene Budliger, Director General, Directorate for Resources, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA)
1. Which of your daily tasks do you carry out with particular efficiency? What makes you so efficient in these tasks?
Answering my emails. New technologies such as push-mail allow me to access my inbox anytime from practically anywhere. Furthermore I get excellent support from our team of assistants, who take care of all meeting requests and routine matters. Last but not least, I am a fast reader and typer (10-finger-system). Nowadays with the abundance of information that helps.
2. What would help you to carry out your daily tasks more efficiently?
I spend about a third of my time outside of my office in Ausserholligen because important regular meetings take place in the city centre. On certain days I spend one or two hours for transfer. If we could regroup the different FDFA offices at a central location that would certainly help. I understand that the federal office of construction is currently working on such a strategy which will be hopefully in place by 2024!
3. What part of your daily work would you like to reduce? What would you like to spend more time with?
I attend far too many meetings. On a really busy day there are more than 10 appointments in my calendar. If I had more time, I would spend it on writing in-depth papers on resource related subjects.
4. What electronic tools for information and exchange are indispensable for your work?
My smart phone with push-mail and calendar/contacts synchronization. It is my office away from the office. Furthermore, I gather that videoconferences will gain in importance in my daily work routine.
5. When did you last exchange experiences with a colleague? What was it about?
I regularly meet all sorts of people from within the FDFA but also from other government branches over lunch to exchange experiences and information. These informal lunch meetings are also a good platform to ask for advice or feedback on certain ideas.
6. What practice or tool for exchanging experiences used in your team would you recommend to others?
Every three to four months, the management board of our Directorate gets together for a half-day retreat, followed by an informal dinner. In my opinion, these gatherings with the right amount of socializing have been vital to focus our team on one vision and a series of common objectives for our Directorate.
7. Who do you think you learn most from in your work?
I’ve probably learned the most from my own mistakes.
8. Which document impressed or surprised you recently, and why?
Off the top of my head, I cannot single out one document. I am usually impressed when I read a concise protocol of a long meeting which enables me to understand months later what was discussed and decided.
9. Which recent (learning) event influenced you strongly? Why?
Last autumn, our then head of personnel and organizational development set up a work shop with Prof. Margrit Osterloh and a successful German entrepreneur to talk about performance based salary systems in public administrations. Until then I was a solid supporter of the current salary system in the Swiss federal administration. I am now much more critical because the two speakers gave such a convincing set of theoretical and practical arguments against performance based pay in the public sector.
10. What does organizational learning mean to you?
To me it means that we as an organization and as individuals never achieve perfection and have to continue to strive for excellence.
11. What would you change about the organization you work for to make it more efficient?
With the support of our DR-internal work group Dynamo, I am trying to eliminate unnecessary forms, instructions and proceedings. Common sense needs to take up a bigger part in our working environment, even though in the public sector we are naturally faced with a certain amount of rules and regulations.