Client Case Study - Stroud District Council

Stroud District Council

Ascend partnered with Stroud District Council to provide organisational development and HR support for the delivery of their ambitious modernisation programme. 

We carried out in-depth engagement work with officers and elected members, to inform a set of recommendations designed to enable the delivery of their Fit for the Future programme. 

We worked with the Council to develop a more  joined up, 'one team' culture, improved leadership and role modelling of positive behaviours from the top. 

As a result, they are now making changes to ways of working to deliver accessible services to communities and make the best use of public money.

The Background

Successive council plans had laid out what the Council needed to do, but not how members and officers needed to work together to achieve the objectives set out in them. 

Ascend were partnered with the Council on a range of key deliverables designed to shift the culture. 

Together we are modernising how colleagues think and act to deliver services against an increasingly challenging public sector landscape.
"Ascend have been brilliant to work with – excellent at listening and understanding what we are trying to achieve and in supporting us to get results."

Kathy O'Leary, Chief Executive, Stroud District Council
The Approach

Ascend initially carried out a significant programme of engagement with officers and elected members, providing a comprehensive report outlining a clear set of recommendations and a basis on which to work closely with stakeholders . 

Our subsequent work developed the Council's existing leadership capability. We co-created, launched and supported the embedding of a set of organisational values and behaviours. We designed a modern and progressive performance performance framework to reduce workload and empower managers. 

Our HR experts developed a modern People Strategy and other associated HR initiatives around policy framework, pay, reward and wellbeing. 
Our partnering brief involved work with internal experts to strengthen the organisational development capability, building knowledge and skills to reduce dependency and ensure colleagues can continue and sustain the work we have started with them.
"The Leadership Development Programme designed by Ascend was well received and widely enjoyed, largely down to personable delivery and excellent content"
The Impact

The engagement and creation of a set of Council values and behaviours provided a foundation for related work on pay and reward, learning and development and management and leadership. 

The Leadership Development programme, designed and delivered by our team, helped senior leaders to better understand their role and has created more consistency across the organisation. The second cohort is already in design, working on the importance of leadership in roles across the wider Council.
Significant, meaningful engagement with both officers and members across the Council has helped to break down silos, and create a more joined up, 'one team' mentality.

Our team's work with officers has strengthened the mindset and the requirements to modernise their approach to better serve their communities by seeing things from their perspective. 

Officers are providing services in different ways that are most accessible and convenient for the public, whilst at the same time driving efficiency to make the best use of public money.

The culture of the Council has already shifted significantly through increased engagement, modelling and reinforcing values and behaviours from the top down.

Our ongoing work will continue to support this as we work with wider groups of colleagues further down the organisation.
"Ascend's experience and insight has been particularly valuable, and we continue to work with them as they now understand our organisation so well and also importantly, how we want to continue to develop it to be the best that it can be."

Kathy O'Leary, Chief Executive, Stroud District Council