Changing Waverley’s values

New staff values and a change of direction have brought about innovation, enthusiasm and a fresh approach to work for Waverley Council employees.

“Our values were dead in the water,” said Waverley’s Manager for Business & Service Improvement, Lorna Black. “We were intent on bringing them back to life.”

With the General Manager’s support, Lorna and the HR/OD team at Waverley launched a process to get staff to develop the new values, engaging with over 560 employees.

“We gleaned a lot from our staff, who gave us some great insights into how we could improve our organisational culture. They saw the introduction of new values as a way to foster greater innovation and productivity and become a leader in local government,” Lorna said.

Staff were involved in every step of the process, from designing the logos and merchandise, such as water bottles and pens, to commenting on mediums for in-house branding of the values. More importantly, they were responsible for writing up each of the behaviours listed in the values, a gruelling and time-consuming process.

Twelve months on and the hard work has paid off, with the values helping to drive enormous change for the organisation.

Director of Recreation, Customer & Community Services, Cathy Henderson is a prime example of the dramatic shift at Waverley Council.

Moving interstate to take up the position at Waverley in 2012, Cathy recognised the importance of the values to the Council before she even started.

“The promotion of Waverley’s values particularly impressed me, especially as they set out specific behaviour and examples for day-to-day working life. They stood out as being highly practical and relevant,” said Cathy.

“It was evident throughout the recruitment process for my position that the values were integral to the organisational culture at Waverley.”

Cathy was put through her paces in an innovative recruitment process that involved role-playing a scenario in character and at length to demonstrate her leadership skills and her commitment to the Council’s values.

“The role play involved some terrific acting from the other party, and really challenged me to address a very difficult conversation using the values.”
Not only have the values helped snare great leaders like Cathy, but they have also highlighted the push for enhanced leadership programs within the Council.

“The staff spoke, and we listened. The result has been a strong commitment to working together to provide great customer service to our community,” said Waverley’s General Manager, Tony Reed.

“We are incredibly proud of the staff here at Waverley for their voluntary input in this process, which has basically shifted the way we talk and the workplace environment of the organisation.”

The values have become highly visible in the organisation. Through the HR/OD team’s specialised internal branding strategy and effective messaging in training programs, the staff rated ‘living our values’ as one of the top four organisational priorities in a recent organisation-wide survey of 650 staff.

Now established in her role, the values have continued to guide Cathy’s approach to her work. “They hang on the wall above my desk and are my guiding principles, day-in and day-out.”