The Challenge

In 2005 Southend Borough Council was in the lowest 25% of authorities, government inspectors defined the organisation as ‘poor’ with a ‘high risk’ status. The first staff survey in 2005 had a very low response rate, matched by poor feedback. Employees felt undervalued and unrecognised.

in 2006, Southend’s new Chief Executive and Leader of the Council committed to a brighter vision for the future. Alongside significant restructuring, the leadership team knew that transformational change would only be achieved by a significant improvement in organisational culture.


ACP Training and Development were brought in by Southend Council at the start of their improvement journey in 2006. Initially asked to deliver an effective performance management and development scheme, ACP also developed a robust core competency framework. ACP supported these new tools with training for all staff and managers.

ACP was also commissioned to design a Leadership and Management Development programme for Southend’s middle managers as part of the Inspiring Programme, the Council’s wider Organisational Development Programme.

The Solution

ACP facilitated a highly interactive session for managers to contribute to the design of the Leadership and Management programme.

Tracy Harris, Southend’s former People and Organisational Development Manager, said “ACP clearly understood the challenges faced at Southend and worked hard to design a programme that met our needs exactly. The programme addressed the challenging issues of cultural change head-on.”

Southend’s Leadership and Management Development programme comprised of six elements:
  • Six day programme of leadership and management development
  • Work-based assignments
  • Personal profile using Insights Discovery®
  • Individual Coaching
  • Accreditation to the Institute of Leadership and Management
  • Additional Master-classes in management topics, such as Financial Management, Stress Management and Managing Absence.

Working in partnership with HR, ACP assisted the organisation in the relaunch of their appraisal system, introducing a robust performance management and development scheme which included an easy to use framework of core competencies for all staff in the Council. ACP delivered training workshops to support managers and staff in working with the new scheme.

The Result

A universal language of “colour energies” was established in the Council, through introducing the Insights Discovery Personal Effectiveness model across the organisation. Many staff have attended team days, networking events, development sessions or training courses that have used Insights Discovery, giving people a unique opportunity to understand and adapt their behaviour to connect with others.

The “Inspiring” Organisational Development Programme won the PPMA award in 2008 for the Best HR Innovation.

In 2010 the Council was recognised by the Audit Commission as One of most improved boroughs in the Country.

In 2011Southend Borough Council was a finalist of the Local Government Chronicle’s Council of the Year, culminating in them winning the Council of the Year in 2012.

Ongoing Support

Since then ACP has supported Southend in delivering a range of corporate, departmental, team and individual staff development initiatives. ACP currently:
  • provides Performance Management and Recruitment training to ensure staff and managers get the most from appraisals.
  • leads team building sessions for senior management and other teams in the different Directorates.
  • Designs and facilitates change management programmes for teams and divisions going through transformation and change
  • Provides coaching and mentoring for individual managers within the organisation
  • Provides HR support to mediate and advise on difficult cases of employee relations, such as grievances, disciplinary and absence management.

ACP continues to work closely with senior managers and different service teams to create solutions that enable people to deliver the best services to Southend’s diverse community.