Warringah Council, NSW — Case Study

Total transformation of culture at Warringah Council

 Infographics here.
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In 2010, one of the largest councils in NSW was faced with all its metrics on staff engagement and customer performance, as one of the poorest performing councils in NSW.

In the government sector, our teams have been engaged in cultural change at a number of local governments in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Warringah Council engaged us in a three-year partnership program, to support and strengthen the cultural change they were implementing throughout the whole organisation.

    Warringah Council had a toxic culture which involved bullying and issues dealing with our people in which there was a lack of leadership more generally in the organisation and our staff told us this in our culture surveys.

    The difference with the Griffith Leadership program was that it actually focuses very much on personal development and understanding of the people aspects of leadership and in fact valuing our people and the interpersonal skills of working with each other are vastly important to be dealt with first before dealing with the technical issues of Leadership. You can teach the technical skills of management but the leadership is about people and that’s what the Griffith program is all about.
    — John Warburton, Deputy General Manager, Community, Warringah Council

    Griffith was approached to work closely with the key leadership levels across the organisation from the General Manager, Deputy GMs and Group Managers to deliver a program to support the executive team as they created a new model using design thinking that would quickly and completely disrupt the established negativity and past entitlement mindset that prevailed and was an impediment in the cultural climate, preventing the Council from progressing and implementing its vision.

    Warringah had attempted to implement wide ranging changes in structures and processes to create new levels of customer service. However, these changes were themselves a source of a greater increase in negativity, frustration and stress levels due to increased reporting workloads and expectations of high performance. Without implementing a vision of strategies to build resilience and recovery for the individuals in the organisation then the vision of cultural change for leaders and employees, would remain baseless. This is the arena in which the Griffith programs were able to create the shift towards needed results.

    Over a two-year period, a cultural and leadership program was implemented for all leaders and staff, that established remarkable improvements and results.

    Testimonials —

    The Leadership & Culture Program is an incredible program led by inspirational people. Listening to all the stories today it was amazing to see how such a broad range of people have all gained so much from it, and yet there was incredible diversity in what was gained. I only wish I had been able to articulate out loud how much I have gained from it. Without the resilience, I have built through this program I believe I would really be in a different (worse) state and I am grateful to have had this program and all that it has given me and will continue to. Thank you.
    — Clare Arundel, Business Analyst, Warringah Council
    What we’ve achieved has been nothing short of amazing. We have had an outstanding couple of years. With the implementation of the Corporate Plan, and creating a leadership group of the top 21 employees in the organisation that runs and makes the decisions as a group as opposed to a hierarchical system we operated in the past. We have also implemented the High Performance Leadership program, with Steve Griffith & Griffith Consulting and that has had an amazing reception from staff.
    — Rik Hart, General Manager, Warringah Council

    Results speak louder than words. 

    Their recent internal culture survey shows improvements in employee engagement by 19% and increases in employee satisfaction of 9% over a 2-year period. In the 2013 National Awards for Local Government, Warringah Council rated in the top 2 for DA processing times, in the Top 3 for long term financial sustainability, and in the Top 5 for Asset Infrastructure management in NSW.

    Staff Satisfaction

    The program success created a sustainable model of high performance but that was based on an environment of self-empowered, positive employees that had built resilience and were self-directed, and focused on continuous improvement.

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