by Kerry Youdale on

Redlands is a naturally wonderful and highly diverse environment, with Redland City Council (RCC) being the local govt authority for this region.

Redlands Coast is vast, spanning the sparkling waters and islands of Southern Morten Bay and borders with Brisbane, Logan as well as the Gold Coast.  With outstanding beauty, diverse wildlife and thriving residential and cultural areas, RCC is creating and enabling a flourishing and inclusive city.

RCC employs over 1000 people across a wide range of fields, including town planning, engineering, environmental health, community development, customer services, and technical and construction roles.  We are actively working towards our city vision: ‘Naturally wonderful lifestyle. Connected communities. Embracing opportunities.’

To support this, Redlands Coast needs its Local Council to deliver more effective and efficient operations without an accompanying increase in budget. Improving these, along with good City Leadership, were identified as key to ensuring the community continues to enjoy the highly valued Redlands Coastal lifestyle.

In terms of its people, RCC achieves a very good standard across its Key Performance Indicators based on the High Performance Organization Model; Satisfaction, Commitment and Loyalty, and Engagement.  Each of these have all been continually improving over the previous decade.  All factors sit above 70% (range from 70 – 86%) which compared to our normative group indicates that we are doing quite well in terms of the workplace factors that make up the KPIs.

However, there were some critical areas to focus on organizationally that related to team member satisfaction and goal clarity.  Role clarity was seen as an area for improvement for the whole organization, with team member satisfaction needing attention in certain pockets.

Based on these results, and recognizing that teams are a crucial unit of operational effectiveness, we established a multi-year journey that integrated more evidence based and data driven thinking into teams programs to deliver better results.

Our challenge

Our People Development Unit continually receive requests for team development services.  Historically, our team interventions were limited to communications workshops, personality inventories, behavioral style inventories, strengths awareness and learning to better understand emotional intelligence.

We thought we could do better as these on their own weren’t getting the results we were hoping for.

“At RCC our goal was to improve the way in which we help teams to become more effective.  The Six Team Conditions are straight forward, research-based, easy to use and aligned with our strategic direction. They pinpoint the key issues to focus on, highlighting where the organization can do better to support the team’s performance and providing assurance that the resulting intervention will make a real difference.”  Angela Milne, Service Manager – People Development.


A way forward

Leaders of RCC invested in a team effectiveness project that included:

  • A way to understand what’s happening in a team that isn’t just about interpersonal relationships
  • A new language to discuss and understand team effectiveness that is simple and easy to understand
  • Scientifically supported and evidence based tools that made a transformative difference
  • A tool that can be used across many types of teams and at many levels to suit our needs within a complex organization
  • A way to establish baseline measures for outcome based comparative insight
  • Easy, relatable and agile administration and application
  • Cost effectiveness

Extensive research led us to the Six Team Conditions (6TC) framework that provided us with a way to develop a deep understanding of the crucial factors that are essential to team performance, which in turn will help position the organization for success.  This was a game changer for the way we viewed teams and the causal factors that support team effectiveness.

Journey to application

The project team started to see why it was that the ways we had approached team development in the past, were unlikely to bring about the sustained change we needed for the future. Whilst moderately successful in some circumstances, on closer analysis we found that any insights from past activities had either been quickly forgotten or difficult to apply.  Our past work also targeted individuals in the team, rather than the team itself.  We changed our thinking, seeing that one-off team day activities had high costs for limited reach. In reviewing our teams through the 6TC framework, we saw how team design, was the major causal factor for overall team effectiveness, including the outcomes of how positively members experience the team.

We also needed to make explicit that any new approach was not going to highlight individuals as the cause of team difficulties.   By using ‘personality’ tools and ‘behavioral’ styles inventories in the past, we had sent the message that team effectiveness is uniquely determined by individuals within teams, thus any suggestion that we were going to diagnose team effectiveness had to mitigate fear around being highlighted as the cause of the problems within a team.

With these factors as context, we carefully branded our team development activities under the umbrella term ‘Strong Teams’ and created a coached six-month program that had the 6TC and the Team Diagnostic Survey (TDS) which measures these conditions, at its centre.

To kick start our journey we created the Strong Teams framework, a program map, and changed our language when engaging teams to broaden the importance of causal factors to team effectiveness.  We adopted the 6TC definition of team effectiveness and introduced the new language around conditions, essentials and enablers.  We mapped our People Survey to the ‘member satisfaction’ elements of the 6TC to give us high level insight as to where the program might best be used and started there.

Our People Strategy was also rewritten, aligned to the newly released Corporate Plan, and expanding to a five year view for the first time at RCC. The new strategy aims to build a thriving organization and is based on eight powerful goals that together will drive this aim.  In writing the strategy, we were provided the ‘once in five years’ opportunity to drive the Strong Teams Framework to help us further embed team effectiveness.

Outcomes & next steps

Whilst we are still gaining traction, we’ve had some great successes as well as opportunities for learning:-

  • At a high level, a key trend across the organization is around ‘purpose’, followed by ‘supportive context’. This helps us validate the People Survey metrics and give us a way to think of future initiatives to improve these scores.
  • We are also transitioning from a reactive ad-hoc ‘team by team’ approach, in response to teams that ask for assistance in times or need or crisis, to pro-active ‘team of teams’ interventions that build and sustain high performance.

As the data bank grows, we are working towards harnessing organization wide data from our teams, laying the foundations of support for a team focused leadership culture throughout the organization.