Issue

A university business department managing $3 billion in asset replacement values and $500 million a year in projects was facing significant criticism from clients. Service to clients and the quality of team work within the business needed to improve.

Action

In 2009-2010 the Executive Director of this business department turned to Bridges for assistance to help him engage staff, lift performance and regain credibility within the institution.

Karen Delvin and a highly skilled team of consultants worked with the senior management team to develop a comprehensive culture change program.

Taking a systems view of the organisation, work focused on the key areas of leadership development, customer satisfaction, communication and cross unit cooperation.

A strategic framework was developed to focus strategic property decisions and service to clients. Specific skills development occurred in achievement thinking, problem solving, customer service skills and coaching skills.

The cultural diagnostic tool Organisational Culture Inventory (OCI) provided a profile of the organisation’s operating culture revealing the behaviours that members believe are required to ‘fit in and meet expectations’.

The 2010 OCI survey revealed that the department was a long way from the culture everyone said they wanted. There was limited accountability. Staff were avoiding making mistakes or taking responsibility and tended to look to others to make decisions. This benchmark survey was used to test progress in 2011 and 2014.

Impact

A university-wide staff engagement survey in 2013 revealed large improvements, of more than 20 per cent, in change and innovation, followed by staff wellness and organisation processes.  In 2014, the OCI re-test confirmed the transformation.

In 2014, the Executive Director proudly accepted a National industry award for an increase in staff engagement because of the culture change initiatives.

He pointed to the massive improvements in the organisational culture, and said this had been noted by senior management and staff across the institution. The department had dramatically improved its service to clients and arguably was managing expectations very well in a tough environment where you can’t always say ‘yes’.

After accepting the industry award the Executive Director said: “It could only have happened under the high quality guidance and professional support that you and your team of high quality consultants have provided.”

Importantly, he also recently stated that his staff are now better placed to deal with the widespread and complex change taking place within the broader institution.

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