The City of London Corporation provides local government services for the financial and commercial heart of Britain. Its responsibilities extend beyond the City boundaries, providing additional facilities such as Epping Forest, Hampstead Heath and the Barbican Arts Centre. Hampstead Heath is part of North London Open Spaces Division and is led by Simon Lee, the Superintendent.
The Senior Management Team for Hampstead Heath take a very proactive approach to managing their teams and having conducted a staff survey and held a staff forum, it became clear that there were some areas that needed addressing. The issue that kept coming up was the need to improve communication, but tackling a broad area like this is not easy, particularly for sites with numerous satellite bases spread geographically across north west London. The effect of poor communication was a layer of management that did not see itself as part of the wider management team and individuals who felt frustrated and disconnected from their teams and the rest of the department.
When there are issues reaching across a whole department, there is often not one clear cause or one straightforward solution. From our experience, we know that changes need to happen at the very top of an organisation. We began by working with the Senior Management Team to help them identify what they needed to do to lead the change. With them role modelling the required changes in behaviour, we could then tackle the next level of Management.
Group sessions with the supervisors helped them to understand their role more fully and particularly to recognise the direct influence they have over their teams and think about the way they communicate with them.
The third stage was to bring the team leaders together, helping them to identify practical actions around improving communication and how they can support each other.
Finally we are bringing all the teams together to share experiences and successes and best practice.
The project has helped to make some real changes across the department, because everyone has been involved at every level and it has been so well led by the senior team. There is now better sharing of resources, better pooling of knowledge to solve problems and improve service delivery. Teams and individuals who work in remote locations now feel more included and valued and morale is noticeably higher.
Simon Lee says “For me the greatest benefit to date is the Supervisors and Team Leaders having had some quality time together and with members of the senior management team to think about the "c" word (communication) and really explore what that means and what can they individually do differently and expect others to do differently to move the Division forward in what are very challenging times.
We have specific actions to take us forward such as implementing monthly 1:1 meetings, rolled out between the Superintendent and managers, managers and supervisors and supervisors and team leaders. I truly believe achieving this over the next 6 months will improve efficiency and effectiveness of this Division.
Focal Point have helped us to break down what seemed like a very daunting problem and worked with us closely over a period of time to help us make the changes needed. The support, input and feedback in between the facilitated sessions has meant that “talk” has been converted into actions and people have really begun to experience the benefits of the changes.”