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In many organisations values are at best conceptual, and at worst, something staff have come (through visibly observing contradicting behaviour) to reject. Glen Eira Council, engaged Dattner Grant to refresh and embed their values to ensure they continued to support strategy and drive behaviour.

Like many Australian councils, Glen Eira Council is dealing with several significant challenges. The most common of these include rate capping and budgetary constraints, increasing community expectations, a shift to digitisation and digital adoption in their workforce, diversity and even climate change. Each issue presents a suite of business-critical challenges that require significant cultural resilience, agility and adaptability.

 

Glen Eira Council engaged Dattner Grant to conduct an organisation-wide audit and qualitative baseline assessment relating to organisational values. The council has had a change in leadership direction recently, which highlighted a need to review and redefine the values. A review would enable staff to truly buy into a new set of values that is fit for the future and can be ‘lived’ by staff. It would also provide an opportunity for employees to be involved in the review process. Looking to continue to uphold values and leverage them to drive behaviour, the council wanted to reassess where they where at.

 

Dattner Grant designed and delivered a Values Audit. The key elements of the assessment delivered five stages over four months:

 

  1. Leadership team consultation: Dattner Grant met with the leadership team to gain clarity on their needs, offer expertise and suggest an approach
  2. Dattner Grant designed and distributed an online survey to all 1400 staff and patterned the data
  3. Facilitation of focus groups: 12 face-to-face focus groups were delivered and qualitative data from the interviews collected
  4. Report: Dattner Grant then patterned and themed the quantitative and qualitative data
  5. Presentation of findings and recommendations: findings and recommendations were presented to the leadership team and internal process suggested.

The purpose of the audit was to:

  • Ensure the current values are reflective of Glen Eira Council’s desired culture now and into the future
  • Genuinely include the staff in the consultative process, and guide them through the process with respect, care and warmth
  • Provide clarity on the current values and what they truly mean in practical terms
  • Describe the current climate and culture of Glen Eira Council, and the cultural aspirations and vision for the organisation as reported in the feedback gathered
  • Identify priorities for values alignment and leadership direction, to bridge the gap between current cultural attributes and cultural attributes aspired to
  • Provide a foundational base for further leadership development work.

 

The audit report presented the visible values within the organisation, as compared to the published values. The visible values became the basis of an internal process, where the leadership team further refined the values and supporting behaviours. The staffing body then reviewed the outputs in detail. Dattner Grant consulted regularly with the leadership team to ensure the work was valuable, targeted and the outcome was successful.

 

Following this rigorous consultative process, the 1400 staff and leadership team agreed on a new set of organisational values (including a few of the existing values that were still prominent in behaviour), and a clear set of underpinning behaviours that defined the values. The result of this now is continuity in behaviour, a values-set with organisational buy-in and engagement to, and a collective framework for, greater accountability.

Author, Ami Summers – Coach, co facilitator and Senior Cultural Auditor