Client stories: Change

Aligning Vision and Values and behaviours to underpin the people strategy

Client: National Charity

This successful charity with its HQ in Bristol had been running for around 15 years. Whilst its work and brand was well respected, the organisation felt the need to sharpen up its values and behaviours that underpinned every aspect of their work. They needed to ensure they stood alongside other charities in the same space, fared well in the competition for staff and were clear in their requirements from their teams.

How I helped

Working with this charity was a hugely positive experience and through our facilitation, the senior team very quickly concluded on their values and more importantly, what these looked like in behaviours on a day to day basis. Once agreed, these behaviours were then translated into their people processes, making recruitment, performance and reward decisions so much easier.


Clear values and behaviours has greatly improved decision making across all aspects of the charity’s work, whether it is resource planning, developing collaborative partnership with third parties, development needs or leadership qualities. Values and behaviours have cascaded down through to all of the teams and they have become the key guiding principle in the delivery of the charity’s work.

“As a charity which has grown organically over the past 15 years, Karen has been instrumental in helping us to look at the bigger picture regarding organisational and cultural growth. Extremely approachable with a distinct openness, Karen provided me with clarity of thinking around governance, growth structure and culture. She has great insight into what excellence looks like and led the Senior Team in an exercise to create new values for the charity. Sensitive to Third Sector differences, but unequivocal in her approach, Karen listened carefully to what team members had to say, whilst maintaining a focus on what needed to be achieved and the outcome was exactly what we had been looking for – a set of values which have already had a huge impact on our team and our clients – highly recommended to get your organisation to the next level.”

Transformational Change

With a solid track record in higher education (HE), I have an in-depth understanding of the issues the sector is facing.

Universities are under increasing pressure with funding, student feedback and the Excellence Frameworks in Research and Teaching. Combine this with student fees driving the increasing demand for value for money courses, greater efficiency in curriculum delivery and the growing HE competition and you have a sector facing unprecedented change.

From large scale restructures, transformational change projects, TUPE transfers and supporting senior leaders in the development of performance management frameworks, through to creating new HR service functions, leadership development, coaching and supporting new ways of working, I know HE well. In a sector that now needs to look at driving rapid change across a diverse work force, HE is now recognising the need for change agents and that’s where I come in.

I have worked with Russell Group and Post-92 universities, supporting change through leading and supporting the people side of large and small-scale change projects.

Here’s how I supported a top Russell Group university with a complex restructuring project.

Client: Russell Group university in the higher education sector

The client, a leading research university, embarked on a reconfiguration of its largest medical faculty to address student satisfaction scores that needed improving.

Recognising the inconsistency in its professional services across multiple divisions, it moved to create seven health schools. These were broadly aligned in their focus but more importantly supported with a consistent professional services staff structure to drive up student satisfaction.

How I helped

Working with the executive team, I led on the thinking to bring the vision to life with clear aims, targets and operating model. This drove the emergence of the structure to support the delivery of quality professional services and functions.

From there, a project plan was created to define the workstreams; the creation of new roles and redefining existing staff roles to drive the new delivery model; a review of the competencies and skills required in the new world; and a complete review of all professional services employees.

Consultation with trade unions, communication with the wider academic and research community was delivered and positively managed.

Many of the processes and communication channels were either very long or dysfunctional. I facilitated change through supporting the redesign of processes and workflows.

Management capability in relation to key leadership and management skills was lacking, plus confidence and resilience to deal with change was low. I identified new capabilities for the management teams that were then met through agile development and training programmes. I coached and supported managers in the appointment/redeployment of roles within the new structure, including redundancies.

The outcome

This was originally seen as a restructuring exercise but through wrapping in to the project scope, organisational design and change management tools, it became a successful change programme.

With consistent teams across the schools, the professional services teams now share best practice, collaborate on common challenges and issues and provide a more cohesive and cost-effective service.

Importantly, there is no longer the single point of failure that previously existed with knowledge retained by one person. The new development of generic roles meant that people were cross skilled in a variety of tasks, creating better continuity for work. By redesigning end to end processes based on key stakeholders, simpler work flows exist that are centred around the student experience.

Management capability has improved and a continuous improvement culture has been introduced and is starting to gather momentum.



Bristol based with national reach

07773 342084

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