Port Stephens Council, NSW — Case Study


Increasing accountability and performance at Port Stephens Council

Infographics here.
Infographics here.
Infographics here.

Port Stephens Council (PSC) introduced our HPLC Program to the senior leadership team at back in 2009.

PSC had been searching for an appropriate leadership development program for some time. As an organisation, they had recognised that authentic leadership was critical to the success of engaging staff in achieving Council's vision. They also knew that leadership behaviours and actions set the tone for the organisation and ultimately influence culture.

Following the success of the senior leaderships program they have continued to introduce our programs to all of PSC’s combined leadership team of 134 team members and will continue to put more leaders through our programs in 2018.

Since 2009, PSC’S culture has shifted from one of avoidance to one of authentic conversations with staff. The leaders understand their people's strengths and respective differences. Our programs have continued to provide an organisation wide philosophy and language regarding leadership.

Anne Schmarr, the Cultural Development Manager at Port Stephens Council (PSC) stated that “the one on one ‘authentic’ conversations between employees and staff have been the key to building our culture.”

The staff at Port Stephens Council have described their results over the past five years as being ‘amazing’. The staff engagement and customer satisfaction results have increased, the staff turnover has been reduced and Port Stephen’s financial position has shifted to a position where they are now financially sustainable.

 “Our workers compensation premium was heading towards $2M and is now less than $600,000 pa.” says Anne Schmarr, who likes to highlight the transformation experienced within their workplace culture.

There was a lot of reform taking place in NSW within the local government sector which included Port Stephens’ rolling program of internal sustainability reviews. Their leadership group needed to lead this change in quite a complex environment.

“The Griffith High Performance Leadership Coach as well as the High Performance Leading Culture Program aligned perfectly with our goal of developing a high performing, values-based organisation. The results experienced at Port Stephens Council, have been outstanding.”



Our council had a history of not delivering projects on time or on budget. Our financial management was often in deficit. Our workers compensation claim was high and stress claims were on the increase. As a result of running this program, we are bringing our projects in on time and within or below budget, and we are on track to break even with our financial position. Stress is not a word we hear much about these days. These results happen due to leaders who are coaching their staff to bring about transformational change.

I have seen great benefits with relationship building between staff who attned the course. Now when issues arise, they seem less of a problem because strong relationships that are in place.

I would recommend the program wholeheartedly to any organisation that wanted to improve their leadership and the resilence of their people and take a holistic approach to the work, life and the community.
— Wayne Wallis — Chief Executive Officer, Port Stephens Council 2015
Our staff engagement and customer satisfaction results have increased, our staff turnover has reduced and our financial position has shifted to a position where we are now financially sustainable. Our culture has shifted from one of avoidance to one of authentic conversations with staff. One of the biggest changes in our culture has been the trust that has been built with our leadership team through one on one coaching of staff.

Our partnership with Griffith Consulting continues and has allowed us to see that organisations don’t transform – people do. Organisations only transform through leadership. Changing culture is hard work, it never ends but has tremendous rewards when it happens.
— Anne Schmarr — Cultural Development Employee at Port Stephens Council

The Results 

In May 2016, Port Stephens Council was recognised once again by taking out the Employer of the Year title at the annual Career Development Association of Australia awards.

The award recognises excellence in the development, implementation and promotion of organisational policies and initiatives that support career development principles and practices.



Video interviews with Port Stephens Council’s employees and managers about the organisations’ experiences with the Griffith Consulting Leadership & Culture Program.

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