Background and Requirements
The Constabulary, employing approximately 6000 staff, has been rated as one of the top performing Constabularies in England and Wales. Taking into account the achievements of the organisation it was clear that there is significant drive and energy among the people to deliver to high standards. With its positioning already defined nationally, the focus of the change was to build an organisation that is able to sustain its position regardless of the vagaries of the external environment, challenges and demands encountered on an everyday basis.
The ambition statement clearly sets out the case for change – “To consistently be the best police force in the country” which undoubtedly raised the challenge of sustainability and the excitement of creating a culture where ‘excellence is not an act, it is a habit’.
Solution and Action
A seminal part of ODRL’s work was designing and implementing the Sustaining Excellence Programme. This entailed the following central elements and processes.
Identifying Baseline Cultural Profile through a Staff Engagement Process
Identification of the current culture and working practices through high level staff engagement, at all levels, by designing and conducting a series of focus groups and interviews using strengths and limitation based approaches. The findings of the qualitative data enabled us to develop a culture change framework which formed the basis for designing a bespoke survey. The results of this survey were then used to present a visual image of the current culture.
Prior to embarking on the Sustaining Excellence Programme, we dedicated quality time with the top tier of managment to facilitate discussions on the vision and future direction of the force and the importance of culture in enabling the force to ‘sustain excellence’. This process provided a forum to identify the ideal culture that would support the force in achieving its vision and goals. Regular meetings with the top team were in place to ensure that information about the various activities were shared on a timely basis.
Direct support was provided to the internal team of change agents to design a collaborative Communication Plan for all the stages of the Sustaining Excellence programme. For example, survey findings and key messages were framed in terms of sustaining excellence and communicated using the intranet, emails, Chief Constable’s Roadshows, large group workshops, posters/bulletins of ‘you said – we did’ and articles in the internal Newsletter.
Solid support was provided following the findings of the survey to develop strategically aligned action plans at both the organisational and local levels. From the first time this activity was carried out immediate, quick win actions were implemented within days sending positive messages at all levels of the organisation. Support of implementation of the Action Plan included:
- Set up a change management structure utilising internal staff from different levels and backgrounds to manage the implementation process as opposed to having external consultants ‘doing’ it for them
- Identified qualities of change agents and ways of selecting the right people for implementing change
- The structure of the Sustainable Excellence team included a core group of 12 change agents who took ownership of two actions each. The core group was supported by frontline change agents to implement actions at the grass-roots level
- This core group was led by a senior manager; the overall sponsors of the Sustainable Excellence team were the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable
The change agents also received intensive training and coaching in Change Management, Transfer of Capability, Teamworking, Resilience and Leading and Influencing skills
Continued support to the Constabulary was provided through regular Gateway Reviews to discuss progress made against key indicators and further actions that need to be taken to refine the process of change.
The culture change action plans were implemented over a period of 18 months.
The final phase of the project was completed through an evaluation process. This entailed focus group discussions with staff, workshops with the leadership team and by re-administering the cultural survey to assess the extent to which the desired culture shifts had taken place. The results of the study were overwhelmingly positive. Tangible improvements were noted in the areas of ‘Achieving Results’, ‘Accountability’ and ‘Partnership Working’, see one of the longitudinal reports below.