Housing and Residential Services

Client: Nottingham City Homes

Assignment: Culture Development through Senior and Middle Manager Development

Culture Development through Senior and Middle Manager Development

The Problem

A reducing budget and increasing demands from stakeholders/customers create a strategic, organisational development environment where proper and careful planning is required. Stakeholders range from tenants, City Council, local Councillors, government, board members, citizens, and neighbourhoods; delivering value for money and excellent services is a real challenge.

‘Decent Homes’ and the ‘Green Agenda’ added to the need for organisations to be one step ahead, with a strategy delivering 1st class outcomes with cost-efficient processes. A recent change of Chief Executive created a platform to communicate a reinforced direction but required careful embedding into the thoughts and actions of senior internal stakeholders.

The Solution

Bourton Group engaged with the former and new Chief Executive, Board and EMT to shape the strategy, its deployment and embedding into directorate and departmental plans. Focused workshops with EMT identified direction and alignment to the partnership vision, the Council’s strategic objectives and plans of various partner bodies. Alongside the internal Business Improvement Team, we co-created a planning process, common structure and process; driving overall direction into directorate plans. Working with the Director of Organisational Development, we designed an engagement process for 54 senior leaders to create an understanding of direction and process, developing greater content and detail. The resulting programme (iNspire CHange) was launched in September 2011.

The programme had four phases generating greater clarity, efficient resources, better performance management and an engaged workforce. A modular approach concentrated on developing better Focus, efficient Structure, and application of Discipline and developing Ownership; outcomes are:

  • Strategy linked to HRA Business Plan to deliver “Homes and Places where people want to live”
  • Corporate and Directorate Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Plans and Actions aligning individual actions to corporate intent
  • Developing structures and approaches to delivery, taking a Lean approach ensuring efficiency, effectiveness and reduced waste
  • Embedding of Covalent, performance measurement and monitoring approach, ensuring tracking of activity to KPI’s
  • Improvement Activity to develop each Directorate’s Focus, Structure, Discipline and Ownership
  • Staff engagement process for strategy communication, including a current state evaluation of staff engagement

Bourton Group adopted an active and pragmatic approach to internal controls. A one page Quad of Aims was developed with the client to scope the work. Each element of support was broken into sub-projects with defined objectives and clear ownership within our consulting team. Client and stakeholder sign off were achieved early in the process through engagement in programme design. Regular meetings were held ensuring anticipated and required outcomes were linked to activity and aligned toward organisational outcomes. Detailed project plans were reviewed ensuring planned activity was delivered in time and within budget, and required variation was considered as close to the event as possible. We asked that at the EMT level, NCH allocated a lead to ensure progress was made. Overall sponsorship rested with the Chief Executive. Programme management was carried out by the Director of Property Services and the Director of Organisational Development. A direct link was made to the Board and Chair ensuring ongoing engagement.

The QofA remained a live document, focusing activity on what was required to deliver benefits. Benefits tracking and realisation were adopted with internal and external measures established. Measurements were qualitative and quantitative e.g. business strategy delivery against timetable, directorate strategy development and deployment, engagement surveys, and culture profiling. The adoption of Covalent is being evaluated and performance regarding effective planning and operations is measured using the KPIs linked to Covalent. Bourton Group measured the impact of the programme on Leadership Wastes through performance in generating Focus, Structure, Discipline and Ownership (FSDO).

The Benefits

Bourton Group delivered a programme that delivered business strategy, aligned senior managers and a corporate planning process with better focus. The current round of corporate planning has adopted the approach, directorate activity is aligned and Covalent is adopted as the tool for measuring planning and aligning corporate plans, and departmental and individual objectives.

NCH has signed off the adoption of the approach and evaluation of the benefits is ongoing. An Awayday to align Board Members to the process and their emerging role was delivered in January 2012. NCH and Bourton Group have deployed the process to a further management tier so that middle managers and team leaders are engaged and developed within the same framework. Bourton Group is now also assisting in the development of operational activity through the development and deployment of Lean to deliver the most appropriate structures and ways of working to ensure cost-effective delivery of core services.

In 2013 NCH achieved the Investors in People Gold Standard, with particular reference being made to the development of its leaders and its leadership. The most recent employee survey indicated a step-change in a few key indicators in the impact of leaders across the business:

Pre Programme: Strongly Agree/Agree 

Post Programme: Strongly Agree/Agree 

Provide strong leadership 55% 74%
Are decisive in their actions 48% 65%
Are approachable and easy to talk to  48% 56%

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What Nottingham City Homes said about us

“Excellent partnership working to deliver the first-class programme (8.81 out of 10 for stage one evaluation) on time and within budget.

Partners from Bourton Group have been professional throughout –available, flexible, knowledgeable, and reliable. Genuinely interested in the business without being overbearing/too pushy and showing patience and understanding when progress may have been slow at our end.”

Carol Aaron, Head of Learning and Development