Children in need
Following the Baby Peter scandal the government issued three improvement notices. A government improvement team was assembled. OTL provided the only psychologist for the team. His role was to lead the review of the competence of staff. So a development centre was designed to assist the Council to identify the strengths and weaknesses of staff and highlight development needs. A separate assessment centre was also required to assess potential senior managers. Two years on from the inspection and following a great deal of hard work and staff commitment, the Council was rewarded by having the improvement notice lifted as “significant improvements” had been made.
The Development Centre included a technical interview which was conducted by technical experts, an in depth psychologist interview using data from the 16PF personality test, high level numerical/ critical reasoning tests, case studies and role play exercises.
Participants received a detailed written report, which included development points. These reports provided vital information on development aspects for individuals and the Directorate’s managers as a cohort.
The assessment of Team Managers followed. The feedback helped the Council focus on managers who had future potential and those who required some further training or development activities, particularly on performance management. The results were visible from the quality of service delivery and improved performance management culture within the Directorate. Furthermore, the assessment process gave a clear message to managers on performance standards and how to achieve them. Consequently some under-performing managers decided to change career, whilst others seized the opportunity to develop themselves.
The success of the programme meant that OTL psychologists were involved in the design and delivery of assessment centres for the more senior manager posts, which were created as part of the restructure of the Directorate.
Managers responded well to the assessment process and many took the opportunity to learn more about themselves and consequently how they could develop. The Council reported that managers are now better equipped to manage the service and Ofsted were content to lift the improvement notice from the department. Indeed Ofsted commented that whatever happened in the Authority ‘should be bottled’.
Specific elements of project:
- Discussions with key managers
- Development Centre design
- Assessment Centre design (for senior manager appointments)
- Design of assessment materials for development and assessment centres
- Preparation of marking rubrics and assessor packs
- Preparation of candidate and assessor timetables
- Assessor briefing
- Management and delivery of centres
- Management of organisational and participant feedback