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Management Development at Lancashire County Council


Lancashire County Council's leadership development programme has boosted employee loyalty and improved public perception of the organisation.

Lancashire County Council is the fourth largest county council in the country by area and has a population of over a million.

In 1999 it conducted a MORI survey which revealed a widespread satisfaction with services amongst its council tax paying customers.

The survey also showed that many people did not realise that many of those services were provided by the council.

This coupled with an aggressive modernisation agenda from Westminster, persuaded Lancashire CC to undertake a review of the way that it operated.

As part of the review, one area that immediately needed addressing for Lancashire CC to achieve its goals was the need for a structured personal development programme within the organisation.

It was clear that the council possessed considerable talent, but that its ad-hoc management and leadership development programmes were not allowing them to get the best out of each employee.

If the organisation was to fundamentally change the way it worked, these changes would have to be led from the top.

It turned to people development company Brathay to help it put in place a continuous development framework that has also helped Lancashire CC to meet its legislative objectives.

The Programme
The result is a platform for continually improving the competence of its management, reinforcing existing employee loyalty and raising awareness of the services it provides to its customers.

In the past, Lancashire CC had no co-ordinated approach to developing management skills and relied on ad-hoc technical skills for specific needs.

A competency framework was needed to accompany any skills development which would formalise the roles, responsibilities and competencies of senior or middle managers.

Management Levels
The management development programmes at Lancashire CC have been designed for three levels: senior managers, middle managers and senior county management board.

The programme includes 360º appraisals, face-to-face feedback, experiential interventions and provides team members with networking opportunities.

As some managers at Lancashire CC are not based in the same office, (the organisation has more than 40,000 employees and many are located at sites within the community) the programme brought people from disparate parts of the authority together enabling the creation of self supporting networks across the organisation – strengthening the team.

The development programme enables managers to receive feedback about their professional development objectively and in a structured format.

It enables areas that require further development to be highlighted and addressed in a supportive and ‘safe’ environment.

Chief Executive of Lancashire CC Chris Trinnick said: ‘One of the significant changes has been to promote a culture of proactive development.

"The relationship between employee and employer is changing as more of our managers are put through the Brathay programme from a parental one to a more peer-to-peer bond.

"Individuals are now requesting more development and training as they see the benefit both professionally and personally.

"Development is no longer seen as admitting weakness, it’s more about self improvement.’

In the last two years, more than 150 senior and middle managers have been through the programme.

Each have been on a five-day residential element at Brathay Hall, a custom designed centre for development training, a one-day development centre, and have ongoing face-to-face coaching.

A follow up event focuses on performance evaluation and the next steps in an individual’s development are planned.

Lancashire CC recently conducted a poll amongst its employees and found that the loyalty and pride they felt for the council had increased as a result of the development programme.

Public perception of the council’s activities has also improved within the local community with many now identifying it as a provider of top quality services and an open style of government.

Chris Trinick summed up what has been achieved over the last two years.

"We are currently assessing the feedback from middle managers but the impact of the programme so far has encouraged us to put more of our managers through the experience.

"The more of our employees who have been on the programme, the greater the improvements in service delivery and organisation performance will be."

He added: "Having achieved our initial goals of putting in place a framework for the development of all our managers I see the longer-term success as a bit like the search for the holy grail – there is never a point where we can say we have achieved everything.

"The development framework will bring continuous improvements, both in terms of achieving our obligations as part of the government modernisation agenda and in service delivery.

"As a result, the organisation has changed both in its attitude and its culture.

"We are committed to delivering the best quality services for the people and communities of Lancashire and this is the first step."


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