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Southend-on-Sea Borough Council

Case Study

Southend on sea Borough Council logoSouthend-on-Sea Borough Council

Go MAD Thinking were identified as a partner for their high quality and accessible Results Framework. A framework for personal effectiveness, that also enables all to coach. Avoiding a more traditional qualification route was a tactic by the Council to encourage busy managers and leaders to engage with the programme.

The coaching programme and Go MAD Results Framework align very strongly with the Council’s organisational values especially; ‘We support trust and develop each other’, ‘We are all responsible for performance’ and ‘We aspire for excellence’. The planning element of involving others strongly aligns to the value of ‘We work as one’.


The challenge

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s new Chief Executive created an Organisational Development (OD) Team to address what was viewed as a ‘failing council’. Hundreds of suggestions were made by the Council’s employees, partners and other stakeholders as to how the organisation needed to change.


The solution

The Council created what was to become an award winning ‘Inspiring’ culture that helped the organisation to transform.

It was recognised that leadership and management behaviours were critical to moving culture and performance forward.  Managers and leaders designed and adopted a new competency framework, which formed a template for their ongoing development. This resulted in the acknowledgment of the potential benefits that coaching behaviours would provide.

To deliver an affordable solution, a programme to ‘train the trainer’ was created. Over three cohorts, two Council facilitators, already accredited coaches themselves, were trained and developed to deliver the programme content. A quality assurance methodology and licencing arrangement supported this to ensure standards of delivery.

Participation in the programme was with the expectation that each person would go on to coach three other people, so each cohort would potentially influence 36 others. With cohorts taking place quarterly, momentum and impact was soon being felt. Coachees supported by the trainee coaches, then became interested in developing their own coaching skills.

Those not in management or leadership roles were strongly encouraged to demonstrate that coaching is a critical organisational behaviour and shouldn’t be considered as only for managers and leaders.

Coaches submitted evaluation evidence of how they had helped others to achieve accredited coach status. Over time this has been encouraged by the Council, with all coaches receiving corporate badges when they train, and all becoming accredited. This process also provides a strong stream of qualitative data to validate the impact of the coaching.  


Differences made 

Annual surveys of all the coaches ask them a range of questions including; "Who have you coached?", "How?" and "What was the impact of this?"


A detailed review of the impact of coaching from the coaches’ viewpoint stated that: 

  • 60% reported their thinking, behaviours and attitudes had all improved positively 
  • 65% stated the programme had changed how they think and plan a project 
  • 53% of coaches stated their own self-belief and effectiveness had increased from using the framework


Coachees reported the coaching benefitted them by:

  • 100% of those sampled completed the goals they had focused upon – 100%! 
  • 50% confirmed without the coaching they would not have achieved their goal as successfully as they did 
  • 50% noted their self-belief increased significantly on saying ‘it shot up’! 
  • 63% stated this had encouraged them to change the way they thought. 
  • 25% following their coaching reported savings had been achieved – one saving alone was £25k  


Since the initial project: The Go MAD Thinking coaching approach is embedded within the organisation. A community of practice was created and is now led by an experienced coach and supported by a team to encourage continual professional development, support standards and offer new opportunities. Some of the coaches continue to develop their skills and offer coaching to others in the Council and beyond.

The Council were reviewed by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development as part of their innovation research programme as to what was ‘Driving innovation in local government’. The Go MAD Thinking programme featured strongly in their conclusions and ‘particularly impressed the research team’.


The Council has since been recognised as the Most Improved Council in the UK, achieved LGC Council of the year 2012, they have RoSPA Platinum Level 5 status for health & safety, are a Stonewall top 100 employer and achieved Investors In People Gold status in 2015.


In a recent Local Government Association peer review employee engagement was noted as ‘second to none’ with the external Chief Executive stating, ‘they were blown away by the people’s passion and commitment to the town’.


Comments received about this programme from delegates/coaches and those they coached include: 

I found the time with my coach invaluable. She helped me develop some insight into my hindering thoughts. I was able to deliver on my objective and received a letter of commendation from my Director.” 

The coaching opportunity helped me clarify in my own mind where I was going with my career at the Council. It took the ideas out of my head and helped me fine tune them and put to paper what I needed to do to complete the task. It helped me think more widely about the options and best way forward and the result was that I have now taken a different career path and I'm thoroughly enjoying the challenge and feel re-energised.” 

I am now in a different role which I enjoy very much and which has improved my work/life balance considerably. Working with a different group of people has allowed me to regain my enthusiasm for my work.” 

I would like to develop my own coaching skills more and support others who wish to experience the benefits of coaching. I think the Council has really benefitted from the behavioural changes that introducing coaching has encouraged, there are no 'silver bullets' to problems that work for everyone but coaching has shown that it rightfully needs to be part of our organisation’s development offer. I certainly have seen projects that were floundering or not starting to now getting underway as a result of coaching.


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