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Managing Change

The Evolving Role of Top Public Servants

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Recent reforms have put tremendous new demands on the people at the top of the public service. Almost everywhere the emphasis is on doing “more, and better, with less”. This study is an inquiry into how permanent secretaries around the Commonwealth see their jobs. It is based on extensive interviews and surveys of senior officials in over twentyfive Commonwealth countries.

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Recommendations

It is a testament to the high quality of the public service in Commonwealth countries that most permanent secretaries have risen eagerly to the challenge. In order to adapt successfully to their new environments and to perform their jobs better, permanent secretaries will require greater support, better feedback mechanisms, and adequate compensation. They will also require more opportunities for development and personal training in areas such as leadership, consultation, negotiation, and communication, and will need to further develop a relationship of trust with their ministers.

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