Haringey Council

Transforming a London borough, one leader at a time.

In 2013, Haringey Council set itself a challenging ambition:

By the age of twenty, a child born in the borough today will have a quality of life and access to the same level of opportunity that is at least equal to the best in London.”

Inspiring stuff. And they had a plan to succeed, which they split into four priorities:

- To be outstanding for all – Enabling all Haringey children to thrive
- To provide safety and wellbeing for all – Making Haringey a place where everyone feels safe and has a good quality of life
- To create opportunities for all – A successful place for everyone
- To be a better Council – Delivering responsive, high quality services and encouraging residents.

However, the council knew that this wouldn’t just happen. Change was needed to their culture. Big change. And they picked us to help them through this transformation.

We got to work immediately, forming our band of strategists, occupational psychologists, recruiters, and brand specialists. And, of course, a project manager to conduct the whole thing.

We started by working closely with the Chief Executive and Assistant Director of HR/OD to design a Leadership Qualities Framework. This meant we could articulate the competencies and behaviours future Haringey Council leaders would need – while also setting new, higher benchmarks for performance.

We then designed a development centre that assessed the council’s existing leaders. It included a written analysis exercise, role play, presentation and competency-based interview. With this, we could reflect the requirements of the different roles. Afterwards, all 120 leaders in the council that attended received individual feedback summarising their performance against the six leadership qualities.

I am committed to my personal development and learning and felt privileged that the organisation had the vision to invest in its senior management team. I was ably supported by Penna to identify and follow through on my action plan… and we agreed support for specific areas. Another positive outcome from the work with Penna is the support I have received in preparation for further progression…

Meanwhile, back at Penna HQ, our Creative and Digital teams were busy formulating their own solution. Having crafted a new employer value proposition, they launched an advertising campaign that was designed to appeal only to the right people. This included the creation of a bespoke microsite. However, this was so much more than just a place to find out more info. The site also had a self-selection questionnaire, and a supportive candidate management process. On top of this, we created a selection assessment centre that was designed to mirror ‘A day in the Life of a Haringey Manager’.

A better fit

Haringey now has a tailored recruitment and selection programme that doesn’t only give people a real insight into what it’s like to work there. It also directly assesses the leadership qualities of future hires. And to top it off, the council has a clear picture of the talent and potential of their current managers that was previously hidden away.

(Nearly) as quickly as you can type transformation, the new leaders and high performing managers started delivering on the council’s priorities. And they were also making the cultural change needed.

In fact, since the start of the award-winning project, the council has: 

- Made savings on potential redundancies through effective career transition and development
- Improved time to hire by 48 days
- Identified a number of reorganisation benefits and potential new talent
- Devised a clear design strategy for its management development programme
- Raised consciousness and activity in managers to the new qualities, triggering a range of performance and development conversations
- Refreshed performance management activity, setting out on a path towards the introduction of 360 degree reviews in 2015
- Hired ten new senior managers
- Delivered a new suite of EVP communications tools
- Embedded an online application and candidate management system

Working in partnership with Penna has enabled the organisation to move at pace to recalibrate what good leadership looks like. This is a vital building block in setting the right leadership tone and shaping the leadership task for the future.