Planting belief– Redbridge Council Planning team’s transformation

3rd May 2020 / BY / IN Planning

Redbridge council’s Development Management (DM) team felt overwhelmed. A London borough experiencing unprecedented growth, Redbridge continues to be an attractive investment opportunity for developers. With the government targeting the construction of 300,000 new homes every year by 2025, a rise of 59,000 from last year, councils are continuously encouraging developments in locations like Redbridge. 

This growth would not be possible without Redbridge’s DM team, who are faced with planning application numbers that are well above the London average. Put simply, the team felt demoralised by the challenge of producing faster and better results with less resources and increasing demand. 

Redbridge DM Team Leader, Liz Sullivan, felt as though her team were sinking beneath a wave of “customer queries, backlogs and some complaints.” This caused them to lose belief. They wanted to embrace the boundless opportunities that come with unprecedented growth, but they were struggling – the waves were beginning to wash into their boat, and over their feet. With too much time spent bailing water out of their boat, the team started losing direction. Their purpose was forgotten because they were so focused on staying afloat.  

The Redbridge DM team needed a helping hand. Someone who could provide useful tools to do a better job. This would get them sailing in the right direction, giving them the extra time they needed to unlock their potential. That’s why they asked Mondrem for help.    

When you lose your belief, we carry it for you. And we challenge you to look past the obvious. We listen, and we aren’t afraid of difficult questions, but above all, we are interested in every person at every level. We inspire people to be better than they realise is possible. Mondrem saw the potential in Redbridge’s DM team, we just needed to help them embrace our belief. And once this was done, we could begin to guide the team to achieve amazing results.  

What was going wrong and how did we help make things better?  

We needed to help the team create more time so that they could move beyond hitting targets and meeting requirements. We wanted to create space for them to look past what they were obliged to do, and instead reimagine their possibilities.  

With demand rising, income falling and employees feeling stressed, this was not an easy task.  We knew that the team needed to establish a shared understanding, through clear roles and responsibilities. This created cohesion and made sure work was efficient and consistent.  At Mondrem, we know it’s important to make the most of the technology that’s available. So, we shone a light on the problems with the use of technology at Redbridge and helped to fix those problems and reduce frustrations.   

Difficult questions are often a catalyst for innovation. The Redbridge DM team were receiving too many poor planning applications; eating into their time and adding unnecessary pressure to their workload. We encouraged them to demand better quality applications, which would create extra capacity.  

By repurposing technology, encouraging the team to ask difficult questions and inspiring a cohesive culture, we helped the team at Redbrige to do more with less. Mondrem see ‘less’ as an important opportunity. An opportunity to innovate and grow. Budget cuts carry a stigma, which is why we encourage teams to focus on what they can do, not what they can’t. 

Once the problems were addressed, we could then move forward with a series of evidence-based proposals. After reviewing our proposals and gaining a shared understanding for how performance could be improved, additional short-term resources were granted and the DM team didn’t just meet our forecast, they achieved beyond it.   

By maintaining frequently updated records and measuring work, the management team were kept informed as to the difference made by the extra employees. Results became clearer and with the team now exceeding expectations, they began to be recognised for compliments, not complaints.  

This was transformational, not just for the team, but for the customers they serve. Public services shouldn’t be “good,” they should be “outstanding.” They’re too important to be anything less. By improving their culture, structure and performance, the Redbridge DM team became exemplars for how things should be done.   

We helped guide them on their journey, but the team inspired us with their belief in change. They are now thriving, not just as a team, but as individuals. And their London borough is thriving with them. 

If you would like to find out more about helping your teams to feel better and deliver better customer outcomes please contact us.  

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