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Local Government Research

Local Government Research

Target Practice and Blind Faith

What’s going wrong (and right) in Local Government Performance and Partnership Management?

It’s a given that the most successful councils are always looking for ways to improve their performance - but how do they achieve it?

In 2007, we launched a research project to identify what is working and what isn’t in council performance and partnership management- and to give authorities clear objective feedback to fuel their action planning to improve. At its heart, the research scrutinises how local government uses communication as a strategic tool to improve performance both inside an authority and when it is working in partnerships with others.  The timing could not have been more relevant. Over the next three years, local authorities face the challenge of moving from CPA to new local area agreements and comprehensive area assessments. More than ever before, there will be an emphasis on how services are delivered in partnership.

We focused our scrutiny on the current strengths and development needs of councils in England in terms of how they used communication to:

  • create a shared understanding of purpose
  • form good two-way management information flows
  • improve how people work together
  • raise performance management competencies.

We then went on to see what happens when an authority works in partnership with others, exploring the issues of how the partners use communication to:

  • share objectives
  • keep each other informed
  • build strong and open relationships
  • exercise leadership

All too often, the CPA rating is the only ‘indicator’ used to assess council performance. We wanted to probe a bit deeper into specific skills, behaviours and attitudes, and discover what people think about their own performance on these matters. And we wanted honest feedback, not the sort of ‘group think’ that can emerge when staff get together and talk in the presence of their managers. This necessitated a totally confidential and anonymous approach.

We gathered our data from nearly 400 respondents in 15 authorities in England, most of which were districts or boroughs. We included 2 unitaries and one county council to see if the size and shape of an authority made a significant difference to the scoring. The data was collected through index360©, an online survey process of facilitating confidential feedback which leads to action planning to improve performance. It has a number of attributes that make it especially suited for this sort of research, including the ability to set benchmarks both within and between teams and different organisations.  Based on 68 statements of best practice, our research revealed some important evidence about council performance and partnership management.

We gathered the data using communicationindex360© and partnershipindex360©

For more information download a copy of the Executive Summary.

If you would like to obtain a copy of the complete Findings Report please Contact Us or call Valerie Heritage on +44 (0)116 2596896

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