Our client has existed in its present form since 1983, auditing the accounts of government departments and agencies (as well as other public bodies) and reporting to Parliament on these bodies’ efficient and effective use of public money.
The Project Context
The project’s strategic aim was to enable staff to develop and apply their knowledge more effectively, increasing their influence so that clients would take action on raised issues. This would require significant development and a more consultative approach, and more movement in and out of senior posts to pave the way for new behaviours.
While a development programme for qualified auditors (Audit Principals) had been in existence since 2005, the organisation wanted to launch a development programme for Audit Managers with the potential to progress to Director in its Financial Audit and Value for Money specialisms. The programme’s aims were to:
identify a higher quality pool of candidates for promotion to Director
capture better data on their skills and competencies
equip them to meet the changing requirements of the Director role
present clear messages to candidates unlikely to progress further, helping to ‘refresh’ the succession pool
enhance succession arrangements, clarifying roles and required skills, knowledge and experience
We designed and delivered a suite of leadership programmes for new leaders, leaders of teams and leaders of leaders, aimed at raising awareness and increasing skills in the management and leadership of people and performance.
We partnered with the Talent and Leadership Development team to design and deliver a comprehensive assessment and development programme that included the following key elements:
Attracting the right people – an application process to ensure all potential candidates had the chance to showcase their abilities, including a bespoke emotional intelligence 360 degree feedback questionnaire, a written exercise and submission of a CV
Assessing applicants’ potential – shortlisted applicants were assessed further through an interview-based 360 degree feedback process and a comprehensive assessment centre, including psychometrics, a filmed group activity and a presentation. Each candidate received feedback, coaching and interview with an Occupational Psychologist
Select the right people – candidates were ranked according to performance and the most successful were accepted onto the Direct Programme
The Direct Programme – designed to meet both individual and collective development needs, each candidate identifies specific areas of strength and development (through coaching, action learning sets and on-the-job experience), with common areas supported by masterclasses
Promotion – participants’ ongoing performance was reviewed to determine suitability for promotion into available posts.
All participants are highly focused on the skills and behaviours necessary to change the culture, with unsuccessful managers seeking additional coaching support. We have also been selected to provide the Future Leaders programme for Junior Managers.
“I feel confident that I have selected the right behavioural goals. My feedback and personal reflection on my experience suggests that strengthening these specific behaviours would enhance my performance as an NAO Director.”
“My experience as a Director has changed the way I work – I am now comfortable lifting myself out of the detail where appropriate, and have developed strengths in identifying the bigger picture and shaping work.”
The Department was formed in 2005 following the merger of two previous Departments. It is one of the largest central government departments, with offices across the UK and a presence at every major port and airport. It plays a vital role in society and touches the daily lives of all of us, both as individuals and as businesses.
Many inappropriate habits were in evidence within the Department:
not putting low appraisal ratings on annual reviews because it would impact negatively on careers
tolerating ‘reasonable excuses’ from individuals for continued under performance
not taking the time to clearly define expectations
not accepting that performance management is a – if not the – critical role of senior leaders.
We understand that high performance cultures cannot be achieved without the support and active engagement of senior management. We therefore met with the Department Chairman to discuss his definition of, and personal commitment to, a high performance culture. We discussed the implications of what that meant and what it would require of him. He confirmed he was prepared to make that personal commitment.
A subsequent meeting was then held with the Executive Committee to express our belief and recommend that they had to role model what was required. This would mean that they needed to behave differently as individuals and manage their line reports appropriately. They agreed and committed to the process.
Having engaged the support of senior management, we ran a half-day event for the top 46 leaders within the Department to highlight the potential impact of a high performance culture and gain their unanimous agreement to do things differently in the future.
To embed the importance of commitment to behavioural change, we then ran a series of intensive two-day skills development workshops. The SCS who attended left with a clear understanding of the behaviours that were required from them as individuals to create a high performance culture. More specifically, each manager committed to making two or three key changes.
We then managed and monitored their implementation of these goals through our unique follow-through and learning application support software.
Our follow-through technology enables us to continually support and track participants’ progress against their development goals beyond the attendance of the workshops.
13 weeks after their workshops, participants were asked to rate the change in their effectiveness as a result of the programme: 76% rated themselves as ‘more effective’.
They were also invited to gauge the business impact of their achievements or improvements as a result of the programme: 44% said ‘some impact’, 44% ‘significant impact’ and 11% ‘very significant impact’.
“This was a valuable event – new material for me, interestingly presented.”
“The role play was useful and the members of the group were supportive and good fun to be with.”
Our client is a major intergovernmental agency, with over 250 staff from over 30 member countries, many seconded by their own governments. Its governed Board of Governors is supported by an Executive Committee and led by the Secretary-General, supported by two Deputies. Its work is guided by the decisions of heads of Government and governing bodies, and in response to global developments and member countries’ needs.
The Project Context
Our client was embarking on building a performance culture to improve its management of its people. It was critical to gain leaders’ commitment that this need existed and that they had a significant role to play in spearheading improvements.
Senior leaders and managers were likely to be challenging and would need convincing of their role in managing performance and demonstrating appropriate behaviours.
We understood that its event facilitators would need to be highly experienced in working at senior level within the public sector and in responding to the challenges the audience might present.
Senior leaders and managers needed to be convinced of the imperative to develop a performance culture, accept their responsibility to act as role models for this culture to be cascaded throughout the organisation, and be able to use and apply a model for managing performance.
They also needed to share a common understanding of how to develop a performance culture, gain the skills to effectively manage performance, use coaching as a development tool, and confidently challenge under-performance without damaging personal relationships.
With considerable prior experience in running Performance Management Workshops for senior leaders in government departments, we were able to rapidly develop a one-day workshop designed to give managers a model for developing a performance culture and the main skills to manage performance within their teams.
To maximise time available during the workshop for skills practice, participants received a pre-workshop workbook to introduce the ASK® Performance Improvement Model. Two pre-course exercises also allowed them to bring a work-related input to the skill practice sessions.
Four workshops were delivered to a total audience of 31 senior leaders and managers. We used a ratio of one participant for every four participants; a member of our client's staff acted as a workshop facilitator and was briefed free of charge before workshop delivery.
Average Level 1 evaluation scores for the workshops were as follows (all scores are out of 5.0):
This workshop has been a valuable learning experience 4.4
This workshop has been an enjoyable learning experience 4.4
The learning from the workshop will be useful 4.4
“The workshop more than met my expectations. There are clear practical techniques that I shall follow up within my work.”
“The workshop was an eye-opener to the concept of ‘performance structure’ as opposed to ‘performance process’”
“The skills learnt at this workshop helps build confidence in coaching and especially challenging in situations which require it.”
The regional authority was originally formed in 1829, covers an area of over 600 square miles with a population of over 7 million, and employs over 50,000 staff and officers.
The Project Context
With the appointment of a new Commissioner of Police, there was an understanding that the Authority’s environment and expectations – and the way in which the Authority needed to interact with the public – were changing.
The Policing Pledge commitment – a set of promises to local residents on the service that the Authority would provide – encapsulated the leadership required in order to operate in a context of rapid changes to both the culture and operating scenarios.
We were appointed as a key partner deliverer to offer a different perspective on change and transition, based on our experience of working with client organisations worldwide.
The objectives for our work with Authority Command Leaders were to deliver:
recognition of their responsibility as leaders to encourage the commitment of their people to organisational change
recognition of the strategic impact of change
development of emotionally intelligent responses to people issues
recognition of the challenges and opportunities for leadership when delivering change
identification of opportunities for delegation within their own team.
The Leading Change workshop programme was both a strategic and an operational intervention, designed to ensure that participants gained a clear view of the approaches available to them in managing change at a senior level.
Highly participative and interactive event with scope for lively discussion, the workshops incorporated facilitating change diagnostics and exercises that enabled participants to explore models of change theory – drawing on our experience of operating in a change arena with a range of global organisations. Command Leaders also had a valuable opportunity to assess how to pragmatically apply the best of the best practice to ‘close to home’ change and to transition issues relevant to them in the context of implementing the Policing Pledge.
At the end of the workshop, participants had a clear personal action and development plan, and also a greater understanding of their own leadership strengths and development needs. They also gained an enhanced recognition of the differences between individuals and how these can be used for mutual benefit.
Rigorous post-event evaluation clearly confirmed the programme’s value in enabling its participants to agree and design implementation of the Policing Pledge in ways that were genuinely workable and measurable in local environments.
96% of participants rated themselves as either more or much more effective as a result of the programme, and 78% felt the business impact of their achievements and improvements would be significant or very significant.
"I think we all learned about ourselves as leaders of change.”
“The real value was in being able to take the theoretical models and assessing their fit within our own Command structure.”
“The extent of the deliverer’s knowledge and experience of managing change was staggering. They were able to put complex theories across in a very useful and ‘user friendly’ way.”
The agency plays a number of important functional and advisory roles within the national criminal justice system. It has existed since 1907 as a set of area based services, and was established in its current form in 2001.
The Project Context
After the agency launched its Living Leadership strategy to assist with the development of its current and future leaders and managers, the government outlined its intention to merge the service with another agency to create a new national body. As a result of the merger, both services were facing a period of considerable change and recognised that the response of senior executives and managers would play a crucial part in the successful transition to the new agency.
The agency identified a need to equip senior managers with the transformational skills and behaviours to lead people through organisational change, enabling them to take people forward into the new body while continuing to deliver effective performance against key business objectives.
There was a parallel need to develop senior managers’ personal leadership competence, enabling them to review their career goals, hopes and expectations after the transition.
We were appointed to develop and deliver Leaders in Transition, a four-phase 32 week behavioural change programme using MBTI®, 360 degree feedback, 1:1 Executive Coaching, transformational skills development, and a rigorous re-entry process to enable and improve practice and support transformational change.
Phase 1 (Pre-event): participants completed MBTI® and 360 degree feedback questionnaires and met with their line manager to agree development priorities
Phase 2 (Workshop): groups of 16 participants attended a high impact residential experiential learning workshop, featuring transformational business skills and a two hour 1:1 feedback session with their own Executive Coach
Phase 3 (Re-entry): participants worked through a structured re-entry process supported by our unique ‘follow-through’ tool
Phase 4 (360 degree feedback re-survey): participants used the Living Leaders Fit for the Future 360 degree feedback process to evaluate the extent of their behavioural change.
In parallel with the Leaders in Transition programme, we also implemented two parallel elements of the agency’s overall Living Leadership Change Programme:
Coaching Skills programmes and Train The Trainer Workshops to create a team of skilled trainers capable of helping managers and chiefs to become enthusiastic ‘champions’ of coaching as a route to building leadership competencies
design, delivery, analysis and facilitated feedback of a 360 degree questionnaire aligned with the Living Leadership checklist
Level 1 Evaluations on a five point scale showed participants scoring the programmes at an average of 4.4 as ‘a valuable learning experience’.
Our follow-through technology enables us to continually support and track participants’ progress against their development goals beyond the attendance of the workshops. 13 weeks after their workshops, participants were asked to rate the change in their effectiveness as a result of the programme: 84% rated themselves as ‘more effective’ and a further 8% as ‘much more effective’.
They were also asked to gauge the business impact of their achievements or improvements as a result of the programme: 46% responded ‘significant impact’ and 12% ‘very significant impact’.
“Time out to consider ‘me’ seemed extravagant but turned out to be an absolute necessity – the best two-day investment I can remember for a long time – thanks!”
“One of the best training events I have attended as there was a group activity and lots of opportunity to interact while also focusing on individual needs in 1:1 activities. Unlike other events, I was left with a real feeling of commitment to undertake the development identified with the knowledge that this will be followed up.”
“The use of a personal coach is new to me and very useful – the critical friend with no agenda other than to assist me in improving myself as a leader.”
One of the world’s top research institutions, funded by public research monies from 20 member states, our client’s mission embraces scientific research, providing vital services to scientists in member states, technology transfer, and the development of new instruments and methods. Research is conducted by approximately 85 independent groups based in five units in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
An international, innovative and interdisciplinary organisation, the organisation has 1,400 employees from 60 nations representing disciplines that include biology, physics, chemistry and computer science.
Scientist leaders are typically employed on rolling 3 year contracts, with an expectation that they develop substantial professional standing through publication and presentations. While their innovations are critical in attracting external funding, they face a challenge in balancing this with a need to lead teams of junior scientists and to develop their management skills.
We were commissioned to develop a Leadership Development intervention that would appeal to highly intelligent and critical individuals working in research, academic and supporting roles. The intervention would need to have both immediate impact and a lasting effect in developing greater leadership capability and a coaching culture to support talent management and succession planning.
We designed and developed a Leadership Essentials programme with three fundamental components:
Enhancing self-reflection through the use of psychometrics to develop self-awareness and awareness of impact on others
Introducing leaders to a range of tools and models that would underpin the development of their leadership skills
Simulation exercises to provide opportunities for safe practice, supported by real-time feedback on both performance and behaviours that would serve to begin the learning transfer process and the embedding of new skills and behaviours.
The programme has been run in both the UK and Germany for six years, using 2 facilitators for each delegate group of 12.
Feedback to date has been highly positive and our client is exploring opportunities to work with ASK® to develop additional follow-through activities and interventions.
“It really made me stop and think in terms of reflecting on my own behaviour and having a greater self-awareness of how I lead others.”
“I found the Leadership Essentials programme really powerful and would like to do more with ASK to help me further develop my leadership skills.”
“Working with real examples was a really effective way of bringing my understanding to life.”
Our client was created in 2001 following the merger of a number of Departments and Agencies, with the objective of providing a single continuum of services to the public during their working lives and subsequent retirement. Following initial integration, the organisation’s Executive Committee identified a need to adopt a common set of values, and a consistent set of leadership behaviours to support them.
A Leadership Development programme was required for all Senior Managers in the organisation and its agencies (including Executive Committee members), to help them lead the necessary organisational culture change, realise the values and achieve the business objectives. We were commissioned to design and deliver an effective Leadership Development programme for 240 Senior Civil Service (SCS) members.
In concert with a project steering group drawn from within the Department, we designed a six month programme of activities called ‘Leading the Vision’. The programme featured a two-day residential event, a ‘back to the shop-floor’ experience and six months of Executive Coaching.
The residential event comprised practical activities designed to raise awareness of personal leadership style and featured a two hour developmental session with an Executive Coach, leading to the creation of a personal development action plan. The ‘Customer Experience’ enabled senior staff from both policy and operational roles to spend five days working with customers in a ‘hands-on’ capacity. To complete the package, each participant was given a budget of six hours of coaching with their Executive Coach.
Participants included the whole of the Top and Senior Management Teams (including the Permanent Secretary), all Executive Committee members and all the other SCS members of the Department.
Post-event evaluation questionnaires showed the following responses:
Programme meets or exceeds personal expectations and development needs – 97%
Uptake of subsequent Executive Coaching sessions – 98%
Substantial increase in personal awareness of impact on others – 94%
Now have clear plan to develop personal behaviours to support values – 95%
Relevance and value of one to one feedback and coaching received – 97%
Relevance and value of the skills practice content – 94%
Excellent networking opportunity and wider understanding of Departmental business – 91%
Rank order of value of Programme elements (Top 5):
One-to-one Feedback and Executive Coaching
‘Leading performance’ skills practice
Comprehensive programme design and content
High quality of tutors and coaches
Quality of support materials
"Best personal development event I have attended" – HR Director
"Most worthwhile development experience of my career" – DG
"I now understand myself and what I need to do to improve" – Head of Division
"I am now determined to live the organisation’s values and understand how to" - Department Head
Our client is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisation that specialises in international educational and cultural opportunities. Its overseas network extends to 233 locations in 107 countries and territories.
The Project Context
In order to help clarify its HR policies, practices and systems, the organisation introduced a Strategy for Staff programme. One element of the programme – the Performance Management and Professional Development Project (PMPD) – was intended to provide the organisation with a globally consistent performance management system.
One of the project’s key objectives was to support and encourage the development of a feedback culture to strengthen the performance management process in the context of a worldwide organisation with a high level of movement between locations and roles.
We worked with the organisation’s PMPD Project Manager to design 360 degree questionnaires to reflect competences at three levels of management, and set up a database with web-enabled questionnaire completion so that employees around the world could take part, supported with 1:1 coaching.
The process was initiated at Director level, although subsequent phases were opened to senior managers across the world on a voluntary basis.
As a result of the 360 degree feedback process and associated coaching and feedback, managers benefited from:
objective feedback and development on their performance in their current job
increased self-awareness of behaviour and styles
identification of areas for improvement
informed thinking about career options and most appropriate roles
comparison of self-perceptions with those of others
creating action plans to improve weaknesses
gaining the confidence to know and build on strengths.
Evaluation and Outcomes
Individuals took part for a variety of personal reasons – for example, to assess their learning needs prior to applying for a new post or promotion, to check their level of progress in a role, or to gain further insight into a relationship issue.
As the programme rolled out, some participants also undertook repeat 360 degree feedback to check their personal development, or to gain fresh insight from new colleagues and peers after a change of role.
Although individual benefits were as diverse as the staff taking part, a Level 1 evaluation in Phase 3 of the programme showed that participants scored 4.1 (out of 5.0) when asked to identify the extent to which the sought benefits had been achieved.
We were also able to provide the organisation with a series of evaluation analyses, highlighting organisational themes identified from participants’ evaluation scores and comments.
“I was able to identify my own strengths and weaknesses as well as putting the then working environment into some perspective.”
“Helped me recognise examples of things I already do well so that I can try to do these more consistently.”
“It was valuable to see how my answers will match with the others. Am I able to see myself correctly? I was very pleased with the outcome.”
Formed as a result of a Cabinet Office report, our client organisation came into being in 2008 as a result of the merger of the roles of an existing agency with two functions from a separate government agency (whose work continued). The agency has a total staff of 25,000 people.
The Project Context
In the context of a newly formed organisation that incorporated existing functions from another public sector agency, the Leadership Programme was a key component in delivering the new organisation’s leadership and management development strategy. It focused on developing the leadership capability of Senior Civil Servants in order to better deliver the agency’s business objectives.
The Leadership Development Programme needed to create a greater sense of accountability among senior managers, build on their capabilities and experience, and focus on the development of critical leadership skills and behaviours, including:
self-awareness and personal effectiveness
taking responsibility and carrying risk
leading in transition and leading change
strategic thinking – and making the space for it
innovation and creativity
engaging teams and partners
communicating better with teams, customers and stakeholders, the public, Ministers, Parliament and the media.
The overall Leadership Programme was a 10 month development journey, to which participants dedicated an average of 2 days each month.
In addition to workshops, personal Breakthrough Challenge projects and Board Level presentation, the programme included 1:1 coaching, the use of MBTI® and FIRO-B®, and a bespoke 360 degree instrument around the agency’s Leadership Behaviours conducted both before and after the programme.
Team Coaching was provided via Action Learning Sets, each of which worked on a group project to influence key stakeholders and present recommendations for a strategic change across the whole organisation.
The effects of improved leadership saw productivity increase by 35% in some areas, with operational teams reaching their targets. This was achieved through introducing new processes, greater team cohesion, use of coaching techniques to empower staff and communicating a shared vision.
New recruitment processes resulted in a reduction in recruitment turn around times and improved capability planning provided consequent savings in staff costs. Three staff successfully applied for new Grade 6 posts within the organisation. One staff member directly attributed the Springboard Leadership Programme to his development of the skills and self confidence he required to progress.
"Very helpful to step back from everyday tasks to analyse performance/developmental areas.”
“The most beneficial management programme against all others I’ve attended; I was able to use the elements immediately in the workplace which supported me with the changes I was experiencing.”
“I have really grown in confidence; this has been demonstrated in meetings and was shown on my 360 by my peers and direct reports.”
“A fantastic eight months during the most challenging months of my working life. I feel happier to come to work now.”
Operating a range of facilities and services on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, our client has been building the largest concentration of nuclear expertise in Europe since the 1960s. The workforce of 10,000 includes apprentices and graduates as well as many of the world’s most experienced and highly regarded nuclear workers, meeting the organisation’s needs from conventional business functions to highly specialised decommissioning and engineering activities.
Following the introduction of key leadership behaviour expectations across operational areas, we were invited to continue this work by coaching leaders in all functional and operational areas of the business.
Having received regular reviews by the National Audit Office and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) that urged our client to embark on a significant culture change, the outcome of our coaching was to enable this change.
The focus of our coaching activity was on supporting leaders in living the values of the organisation to enhance its capability as a leading commercial and cost effective business. We worked with the organisation’s top 250 leaders across multiple sites, providing executive coaching, ‘in the moment’ feedback and coaching skills training.
The coaching was greatly sought after, enabling individuals and teams to actively apply their personal goals within the context of the organisation. There was a measurable shift to new ways of working, with leaders taking active responsibility for leading by example and role-modelling the necessary behaviours to create a high performing workforce.
Client Feedback and Reviews
Regular client discussions and reviews showed significant progress against the project objectives, with visible differences being seen within the leadership population.
As a result of our work, we were asked to attend regular executive meetings as objective observers, provide feedback to the wider organisation of emerging themes in terms of both effective and ineffective leadership behaviours and activities, and offer guidance on subsequent stages of organisational development.
Following the completion of the two year coaching contract, we were asked to support the on-going performance improvement of staff across the organisation.
In response to a survey questionnaire question, ‘In which of the following areas (if any) did you achieve positive results?’, coaches responded as follows:
Coaching and developing others – 74%
Effective communication – 68%
Leading by example – 68%
“For me it was the expertise of the coach in taking the feedback from the 360 and helping me to understand it and work through to identify my own action plan.”
“I gained confidence/clarity that I am generally doing the right thing, it helped me focus on areas which will/have made a significant improvement on my work.”