Case Study – Delivering on Denbigshire County Council Vision and Strategic Goals

Empowering Leaders to Deliver the Vision and Achieve the Strategic Values

An organisation can maintain and survive but cannot expect to achieve greatness without strategic vision.

A vision is like a traveller without a map. Having a strategic vision is vital to corporate success. They may eventually arrive at their destination but will have embarked on a journey without direction or purpose.

A new vision needs acceptance, buy-in and to be communicated through an organisation in order to succeed.

The Oakridge Centre worked in partnership with Denbigshire County Council (DCC) to help empower its senior management teams to deliver on its vision and to achieve its strategic goals.

The Background

  • The appointment of a new Chief Executive at the council brought a new short term vision with the aim of positioning Denbigshire as an "excellent" authority and to be seen as one of the 'top performing authorities in Wales.'.
  • The emphasis was to provide 'high quality, sustainable and efficient services to all its citizens and communities and effective leadership to the Local Service Board and other partners in the county.'
  • Following an Audit Commission report and internal audit of DCC's leadership performance and management skills, led to the start of the authority's journey with Oakridge.
  • DCC already had an established long term vision which aimed to position the county as the 'ideal place to live, work, visit, conduct business and pursue a wider range of activities'. Yet those tasked with achieving the vision were lacking in the skills that would enable its delivery.
  • The audit commissioned identified that many of Denbigshire's people were promoted into positions because of their technical ability, but were often not then given the tools to develop their management skills. The implementation of a change management programme would only highlight more the need for improved management performance within the authority.

Our Approach

  • The starting point for The Oakridge Centre was to provide tools for the senior management team to enhance their leadership skills.
  • Involving the Chief Executive and the senior management team, the work focused on a two day intensive leadership workshop followed by coaching sessions for each participant.
  • Participation in Action Learning Groups and a day was dedicated to looking at influencing skills and the impact of stress linked to change.
  • Activities followed that aligned leaders' objectives to the authority's statement of intent - and how they could engage and encourage managers to develop the skills to lead and manage teams.

The Results

  • The management development programme which The Oakridge Centre designed in collaboration with the DCC management team, took into account the current economic climate and the changes staff were facing.
  • The programme focussed on Change, Conflict, and Stress Management and enabled managers to make a clear link to everyday events, including:
  • Communication Skills - what works, what doesn't and how to be more assertive.
  • Managing Change and Conflict - looking at what drives our behaviours and working with professional actors to help with conflicting handling.
  • Management Development - including leadership styles, the role of the manager in the local authority and developing high performing teams.
  • Coaching versus Mentoring and Management and Coaching Skills.
  • Over 100 managers at the council took part in the programme, and the feedback The Oakridge Centre received on completion was that the 'different approach' Oakridge provided, enabled senior management teams to have an improved understanding of issues and employed better listening skills with 'more valuable one-to-one sessions widely reported.
  • Following the completed courses, Post Course Evaluation, the Denbigshire County Council introduced a 'Contracts of Success' policy which encouraged conversations between leaders and their management teams about necessary areas of development and how these can be delivered and measured.

Denbigshire County Council Feedback

“There were so many elements of the programme which even now have stuck with me and I use today.It really opened my eyes to the techniques and skills that can be employed for instance, in conflict management and around issues of change management.

The refresher course, 12 months after the initial delivery, was really useful and enabled an exchange of thoughts and ideas between other delegates within the Council, and longer term could be used as the basis for a support group within the organisation. An external provider brought an objective approach to the delivery and I would welcome other oppportunities to develop skills in these areas."

Principal Solicitor at Denbigshire County Council

“In order to achieve our Vision and bring our work closer into the community, we developed a set of values which we want all members and staff to embrace. It is by providing this development that we are able to empower our people so that they have the confidence to drive our business and achieve goals.

We have received very positive feedback from the work that Oakridge has delivered and it is encouraging to hear that staff feel they have a clear personal focus. We also understand that this is only part of the process and that they will continue to need support, encouragement and reflective space in order to build on their learning and enhance their management skills."

Head of Strategic HR at Denbigshire County Council