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Creating culture change in Higher Education

How do you develop a programme to encourage and embed the core values and behaviours required from leaders to drive progressive culture change?

Creating culture change in Higher Education

The brief

Designed and developed in partnership with this leading virtual learning univiersity, this programme clarified the expectations of all senior people managers via a new set of Management Practices designed to transform the experience of managers and their teams. Endorsed by their Vice Chancellor, this was more than just a training programme; it aimed to achieve a culture shift across the organisation encouraging greater collaboration and interaction across all faculties and departments.

The challenges

The University wanted greater ownership and consistency in the way that people-leaders across the University lead and manage to ensure a positive employee experience, drive the culture and deliver on strategy.

The solutions

This programme was designed in two distinct phases, with Phase 1 aimed at the top 100 leaders. This phase started in September 2018 and is now complete. Based on the positive feedback and noticeable change in behaviours, we were commissioned to deliver Phase 2, comprising 80 cohorts, which has now fully commenced for a further 1,100 leaders until December 2020.

The programme was created to stretch and challenge leaders in both academic faculties and professional services. Developed on strong and credible research, the programme was nevertheless created to be practical and to make an immediate impact on leadership within the organisation through increased collaboration and improved leadership. Strengths-based 360 feedback was included to ensure participants could see how they could personalise the learning to their context and situation, supported by 1:1 virtual coaching. To ensure learning took place outside and beyond the face-to-face workshops, innovative digital and immersive elements were also included.

The results

As a live programme, robust evaluation is continuous and ongoing, using our core evaluation framework and ‘Moments that Matter’. Analysis of the Top 100 leadership group has already demonstrated a shift in behaviour and increased awareness of the improved shadow of leadership within the organisation.

Further recent feedback includes:

  • Director: “The Management Practices programme is all about providing tools for new ways of thinking rather than giving you all the answers. My key takeaway was the focus on strengths and understanding your own strengths and strengths of others. For that it really energised me in my role. I have already started to use the framework with my team to help them tackle some of the issues they have.”

  • Senior STEM Lecturer: “My impression of Shared Management Practices, after an initial, curious scepticism, was a positive one. It is quite a different sort of programme to existing leadership programmes I have been on. The Strengthscope questionnaire at the start was impressive and a useful, reflective tool for me. My key takeaway is probably based around the Strengthscope as it encourages you to be reflective around how you lead and manage people. The programme was less about telling me how to manage and more about looking at me and how I operate and behave with my team.”

This programme is now being developed into an innovative and blended virtual solution.

Ewan Stickley

Ewan Stickley

Lara Jubb

Lara Jubb

Niki Pountney

Niki Pountney

Phil Mardlin

Phil Mardlin

Russell Harvey

Russell Harvey

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