Wiltshire Council is the unitary authority for most of the county of Wiltshire and provides all significant local government services to its 435,000 residents. They are the biggest employer in Wiltshire, being responsible for schools, social services, waste management and leisure services, amongst other things.
Although employee development and engagement is important at Wiltshire Council, activity around them had been pared back because of budget constraints. Judith Vanderpump, Organisational Development Consultant at Wiltshire Council still wanted to keep a focus on these areas and was looking at innovative and cost-effective ways to do so.
Judith was aware of psychometric assessments, having used them in recruitment and understood that they could be used to develop leaders’ self-awareness and help them modify their behaviours to get the best out of their teams, so wanted to bring them into Wiltshire Council’s staff development plans.
For the past eighteen months, the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), which provides an insight into how people behave at work, and Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue), which assesses how well people understand and manage their emotions, have been embedded into the Council’s leadership and management programme.
Judith explains why the assessments have become so integral to staff development: “A successful leader has to have a good level of self-awareness. They need to understand their strengths and limitations and know how to modify and adapt their behaviour in different situations. By doing this, they can get the most out of their teams and we have found that the Thomas assessments equip our leaders with this information.”
Having seen the benefits that the assessments have brought to the Council at a management level, the PPA is also being rolled out within some broader teams. Judith says: “We recently asked everyone in the Waste Management Team to complete the assessment and, as a result, have found that the team works really well together. By understanding each other’s personalities better, the team is now equipped to discuss behaviours in a non-personal, non-threatening way meaning that any issues are addressed quickly and effectively. The team has established a really positive culture as a result.”
Some roles at the Council are more suited to people with specific behaviour traits and Thomas assessments are also being used to identify the most appropriate candidates for those roles. For example, members of the Social Care team can encounter emotionally demanding situations and need to cope well with stressful circumstances. To identify those best able to deal with these situations, the Council has used the TEIQue assessment to gain insights into how well recruits interpret and deal with the emotions of others and how they use this knowledge to manage relationships.
We very quickly realised that the PPA was working well because, when people received their report profiles, they straight away said ‘yes, that’s me’. In fact, the assessment is now a key part of our recruitment process for anyone joining the Council at manager or head of service level.
Judith continues: “We’ve undertaken a transformation of our Adult Social Care team and 90% of those promoted into more senior roles had taken the Thomas assessments as part of our leadership programme. For me, that shows a very clear link between the assessments and success as those candidates are demonstrating the skills needed to be a good manager and leader.”