Verax International Ltd

Hampshire Leads the Way

 

Authors:

Helen Howe

- Learning Resource Manager

VIcki Birnie

- Senior HR Consultant (Learning Development)

Against the backdrop of redundancies and major cut backs in the public sector, Hampshire County Council has delivered a Leadership Programme focused on meeting the Council’s business needs that has delivered quantifiable positive results.

Background

 

Hampshire Learning Centre provides a wide range of blended learning solutions to the Council’s 40,000 employees.  In 2009 the Centre developed “Progress Pathways”, as a means whereby managers and leaders in H.C.C. could understand and map their management and leadership development at 3 different levels.

 

Core Management

Operational Management

Strategic Leadership

The framework uses Hampshire County Council’s management and leadership competencies to guide learning and development. These competencies are directly aligned to the Council’s strategy and the Local Authorities efficiencies agenda. While considerable resources had been dedicated to grades E & F (first levels of management), and H & I (Executives & Leaders), by 2009 band G managers (middle) had had little development.  However, it was recognised that they were a crucial group if the Council’s strategy were to be achieved.  These managers typically felt disempowered and stuck in the middle, having to influence upwards and communicate downward.

 

Design – Essentials of Leadership

 

In order to meet their needs, we designed the Essentials of Leadership programme. The Essentials of Leadership programme was designed as a series of 8 elements or  modules, some of which were mandated, others optional.  The initial cohort consisted of 96 managers.

 

Element 1 – 360 Feedback

 

H.C.C. chose to use a customised version of Verax International’s Team Leader Competencies (TLC) 360.  This was chosen as it closely matched the Hampshire

Competency framework, is statistically valid and reliable and contains very robust external norms.  It also generates internal norms for comparison purposes.

 

The Verax 360 is used to identify priority learning and development topics in the context of what is needed for the future.  As part of the process the manager carries out an online job analysis, covering the nature of the job, the experience of staff members, high priority objectives etc.  The 360 report then highlights which competencies are most important for the manager to focus on.

 

At the beginning of the programme each manager received their 360 feedback through a one on one feedback and coaching session.

 

Coaches were all chosen from internal staff, from both Hampshire Learning Centre and other departments.  They all worked though a 2 day practical workshop run by Verax to hone their coaching skills and help participants maximise value from the 360.

 

During the feedback process, delegates were guided toward the other programme modules that would be most useful to them.

 

Some of the original delegates have volunteered to be trained as coaches for future cohorts as they have experienced such a satisfying and valuable process.

 

Element 2 – 6  – Master-classes

 

There are 5 master-classes where delegates take responsibility for their own learning. They are delivered by external providers who are experts in their subject.  Master-classes last 1 day and are typically attended by about 30 managers at a time.

 

On average each manager attends about 3.5 master-classes out of the 5 on offer, depending on which subjects are most appropriate.

 

The experts challenge managers to think about and plan to do things differently and apply these ideas.  They are behaviour and application based.

 

Master-classes on offer include: -

 

Emotional Intelligence

Political Awareness

Stakeholders and Partners

Change Management

Strategic Management

Managers continue to receive support from their coaches (who provided the 360 feedback). They are also supported through a coaching and mentoring website (part of the e-learning package).

 

Element 7 – Progress Journal

 

Each manager keeps their own learning log. These professionally printed journals are structured to match the Essentials of Leadership programme.  Delegates record not just their learning but how appropriate each programme element is to their job and how they have applied the learning.

 

Although completion is time consuming only 20% of the first cohort have not found the journal helpful.

 

Element 8 – 360 Re-measure

 

After 8 months, all managers who received the initial 360 feedback and coaching receive a re-measure report and further feedback and coaching session. This confirms progress and success and points them in appropriate directions for the future.

 

Results achieved so far

 

The differences between the initial Verax 360 measure and the re-measure show that the cohort’s scores improved on every competency.

 

Statistically significant improvements have been shown in 12 competency areas (see table 1). Most remarkable of all has been the change in workplace well-being which has soared from an average score (at the start of the process) at the 13th percentile (against a public sector norm) to the 75th percentile. We believe that despite the upheaval due to budget cuts, redundancies etc, managers and staff are much clearer now about what they have to achieve and to do and are considerably more confident about what they are doing. This has led to reductions in stress for managers who in turn have cascaded the same clarity and confidence to their staff.

 

In addition to the objective results above, other excellent feedback includes the value that participants placed on the 360 feedback and more particularly the re-measure (see table 2).

 

98% of attendees claimed to have applied something they have learned and 83% were able to give a specific example.  98% of delegates claimed that the programme supported the application of learning back at work, and over 90% claimed to feel more confident in being able to apply the actions planned.

 

Where Next?

 

After the successes achieved with the first cohort, the next cohort of similar size started the process in May 2011 and a third is scheduled toward the end of 2011.

 

The coaching process has been a considerable success and we are now creating a coaching network of staff members who can become expert coaches. Not only will this be good for their CV but it will extend the benefits to their departmental day to day operations. Furthermore the programme will gain in creditability as these coaches are in operations and not Learning and Development people. They will bring a practical contextual and corporate slant to the learning process.

 

Already we have new coaches shadowing more experienced ones. We are also developing a Coaching Pack, which together with the Verax 2 days and a further formal 1 day input will give us a very professional coaching capability.

 

Once managers have finished the Essentials of Leadership programme they may volunteer to join a variety of Peer Monitoring and Action Learning Sets which are being created to support the application of learning from Essentials of Leadership, and particularly focused around the Change Agenda.

 

Table 1

 

Significantly Improved Competency Scores:

Team Working Business Awareness

Change Management Behaviour Coaching & Developing

Influencing Others Planning & Organising

Leadership Decision Making

Managing Performance Financial Awareness

People Management Workplace Wellbeing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 2

 

Usefulness of Programme Elements:

Verax 360 re- measure report & feedback session 98%

Verax 360 initial report & feedback session 87%

Stakeholders & Partners Master-class 87%

Political Awareness Master-class 85%

Strategic Management Master-class 82%

Change Management Master-class 81%

Emotional Intelligence Master-class 61% *

Progress Journal 23%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*(changed providers during programme)

 

We set out to build management and leadership capability through a time when managers are having to deal with unprecedented change. The 360 has been core to the success of this programme providing us with not only a learning needs analysis tool and a development tool, but also an evaluation tool. The use of the 360 tool with coaching has meant that we have been able to balance personal development needs with organisational business development requirements. Furthermore, they have enabled an individual learning focus to what could have been perceived as a generic development programme.

 

Finally it was important to us to be able to validate the investment in the development of our managers and it has been highly satisfying as the internal learning and development centre, to be able to quantify our achievement and success through the improvement in the 360 scores.

 

 

 

Helen Howe and Vickie Birnie can be contacted at: -

Hampshire County Council

Regency House, St Clement Street

Winchester, SO23 9HH

Tel No: 01962 833028

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