2018 UHR Awards Shortlist Organisational Development and Culture Change



Imperial College London: Active Bystander training

Winner in the Organisational Development and Culture Change category




Imperial’s Active Bystander training has been developed to give staff the skills to challenge and combat unacceptable behaviour in the workplace. So far, around 1,000 staff have attended the hour-long interactive sessions, and it has been featured on LBC radio and Channel 5 news.

A 2014 University-wide survey raised concerns around bullying and harassment in the institution. In response, the University set up tailor-made training designed to encourage staff to speak out and address issues. The campaign also featured a “hotline” to an external Employee Assistance Provider so employees could raise concerns.

The sessions address issues such as bullying, but also the impact of “micro-inequities” such as eye-rolling at meetings, constantly interrupting others, and taking more questions from men than women. 78% said they found the content “very helpful”.

The initiative was originally launched in the Faculty of Engineering but is now being rolled out across all faculties and staff. The next phase is to roll out training to the student body, and a pilot session has already been run for PhD students.


University of Birmingham: The Coaching Academy

Runner Up in the Organisational Development and Culture Change category

Birmingham’s Coaching Academy is designed to be a “highly valued and respected provider of one-to-one executive level coaching for University colleagues at senior levels”. It is now in its fourth year and features 35 accredited coaches.

Since 2016, a number of changes have been put in place in a bid to establish the academy as a best-in-class coaching service in the HE sector. These improvements have resulted in an increase in senior clients taking up coaching, and academics recognising the value of coaching on research and teaching.

Improvements include the introduction of a more systematic coaching process, and clearer tracking of how the sessions have benefitted the individual and organisation. Two senior directors have also been recruited to advocate for coaching in the University, and services have been promoted through word of mouth, intranet pages, brochures and the HR business partner network.

Between 2016 and 2018, 200 coaching assignments were completed, a significant increase on the 21 completed between 2014 and 2016. The academy has helped raise awareness internally that coaching is open to all staff rather than just a small group of senior employees.


University of Huddersfield: What Gives Us The Right To Lead?

Shortlisted in the Organisational Development and Culture Change category

At the University of Huddersfield, the ethos is that “if you stop growing, the University stops growing”. That is why Vice Chancellor Bob Cryan put himself through the Chartered Management Institute’s chartered manager process in 2017, even after ten years in the post. He benefitted from the experience so much that he asked the University’s executive team to do the same.

The University is now aiming to put all of its leaders and managers through the process. The idea is to ensure that great leadership and management is in place at all levels in the institution, and that these leaders will help staff fulfil their potential.

The majority of senior managers are currently undertaking a CMI Level 7 Strategic Leadership Programme, and will attain chartered manager status by June 2018. A further 120 middle managers have also started the process, with the remaining 150 or more first line managers due to begin in early 2019.

This work will continue even after this status has been achieved. Leaders and managers will be asked to adopt the “Team Hud Way”, which encourages them to ask honest questions, such as: “If you applied for your job today, would you be shortlisted?”. The HR department is also working on other initiatives, such as a joint coaching pool with the University of Leeds and Sheffield Hallam University, and a talent management and succession planning process.


Leeds Beckett University: Leeds Citywide Coaching Network

Shortlisted in the Organisational Development and Culture Change category

In 2013/14, the University’s Head of Organisational Development made a discovery. Due to the lack of a coaching lead, the Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) had qualified coaches who were not actively coaching. As a result, she met with more than 10 local public-sector organisations to propose a citywide coaching network.

The Leeds Citywide Coaching Network consists of Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council, and the LYPFT. Prior to its foundation, these organisations had all developed separate coaching strategies. Now they collaborate to develop leadership talent across the city, and use resources more effectively.

Each partner has agreed to a minimum of 20 qualified coaches, and has the option to “swap” coaches to spark activity and reduce costs. More than 300 hours of coaching practice has taken place since the network was formed, saving partners approximately £600,000 in coaching rates. Participants also praised the coaching as “invaluable” in providing “significant learning”.

The network has already been approached by other organisations such as the University of Leeds and West Yorkshire Police, with a view to being involved. The model itself has been presented at various conferences, in locations from Imperial College London to Bournemouth, Nottingham and Perth in Scotland.


For information on our other awards categories visit:

Business Effectiveness and Organisational Performance

Equality and Diversity

HR Excellence

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