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The Rotunda

‘Beyond the Standard’ Review Report

Commercial in Confidence

Assessor: Cathy Bridge Date: June 2012

Investors in People delivered by idg official partner for the North of England.










Management Summary


Specific Findings Against the Wider Framework


Evidence Assessed Matrix


Continuous Improvement/Action Plan





Introduction The Rotunda is a college for adult learning through the arts, based in the Kirkdale area of North Liverpool. This area is among the most socially deprived in the UK; some 60% of the adult population is defined as being ‘workless’ and the area falls within the top 5% of many deprivation measures. Kirkdale has a high crime rate, a high school attrition rate and many children leave school with few, if any qualifications. The cycle of low attainment and low aspiration has continued for several generations now; Rotunda’s business plan states that there are some families within which there has been no paid employment for three, or in some cases four, generations. The building is an old Georgian one which stands almost in isolation in its immediate vicinity; it has listed status which protected it from the mass demolition that occurred in the area in the 20th century. In closest proximity to it are a variety of housing stock; Victorian terraces and more newly-built social housing. Inside the building there is a ‘buzz’. There are constantly people coming and going and it often seems to resemble a noisy family home, with people chatting, shouting and even singing! There is a crèche facility and several good sized training rooms; the upstairs floor is given over to offices which offer a (slightly) more tranquil space. The Rotunda many different types of training course – ASDAN accredited – in an attempt to encourage people in the locality back into education. There are about 1200 learners per year. Several go on to study for further qualifications. The Rotunda employs 17 people at present and 7 of these were selected for interview, a sample of 42% which is in line with UKCES guidelines of 40% - 80%. One person was added to this sample once the review was underway, and I chatted informally to several people who I bumped into in corridors etc. In addition, there is a group of volunteers who support the organisation. Their number varies and some work several hours a week, some just a few a month. Two of these were selected for interview. The Chair of the Board of Trustees was also interviewed. The Rotunda’s management had decided that, based on work they had done and other external feedback, they would be able to achieve Investors in People at a level ‘beyond the standard’ and had selected a number of evidence requirements which, it was hoped, would lead to accreditation at ‘Silver’ level. 137 evidence requirements were reviewed and 125 evidence requirements were met. The evidence gathering process was a combination of documentary/website review, interviews with a cross section of employees, observation of notice boards and observation of people at work.


Outcome of Review Having carried out the assessment process in accordance with the guidelines provided for assessors by UK Commission for Employment and Skills, I was satisfied beyond any doubt that The Rotunda meets the requirements of the Investors in People Standard. On behalf of Investors in People North of England I would like to congratulate The Rotunda on this achievement. I also confirm that The Rotunda has met an additional 88 evidence requirements above the Investors in People Standard and this equates to a Silver award requiring at least 115 evidence requirements in total. I recommend to the Employer Representative Board that The Rotunda is confirmed as having achieved this award. On behalf of Investors in People North of England I would like to congratulate The Rotunda on this additional achievement.

Objectives for the Assessment The Rotunda had appointed a new Chief Exec about two years ago and she has, with the help of her senior team and the trustees and staff, set about transforming the organisation. It is now on a more stable financial footing, less reliant on grant funding, more commercial and has in place a good set of policies and procedures which clarify how things are done. Importantly, there is now a vision and clear strategic plan in place for The Rotunda. The purpose of the Investors in people assessment was twofold; firstly to investigate whether the approaches that have been put in place have been effective and secondly to give the organisation and its people recognition for the efforts they have made in going through the necessary changes. The objective was, therefore simple: in the words of the Chief Exec ‘We just want to know how we’re doing… we want to know we’re along the right lines… that people still feel valued and that they’re happy working here.’ She also believed that external accreditations such as Investors in People gave credibility to The Rotunda in an increasingly competitive market place, and also with potential partners and funders. Since the good practice that has been put in place extended beyond the scope of the ‘basic’ Investors in People standard, we decided to scope the assessment with a view to achieving a Silver Award. As regards the structure of the report, the Chief Exec asked for something that was concise, easy to understand, easy to read (so it could be shared with those outside the organisation as well as those within it) and clear. She also asked for ‘not a great deal of detail’. She wished for it to cover the ‘personal’ side of Investors in people, focusing on people’s learning and development and whether they felt valued. With the above in mind, the report is split into two sections:


A management summary which outlines strengths and suggested areas for development. A ‘Theme by Theme’ section which, for the sake of (relative) brevity, contains a number of staff comments in each area and little else!

Management Summary You easily met the Investors in People standard ‘beyond the standard’. You have in place a good set of policies and ways of working that have tightened up and formalised some of the practices that were in place previously and added those that were missing. You have managed to do this without losing either your team ethos or what some people referred to as the ‘Rotunda Effect.’ You have managed change well and are in the process of making a transition from ‘not sustainable’ to sustainable, for this you are to be congratulated. There aren’t too many areas for improvement, but you asked for any that were there to be picked out, so here they are – do bear in mind that these are all about helping Rotunda, taking it forward, being creative, developing the organisation and its people! Consider a ‘two degrees of separation’ exercise. This will help you with your marketing and getting the word out far and wide about Rotunda, its plans and so on. It goes like this: each person lists all the people they know who might be interested in Rotunda. They also list the people the people their contacts are linked to, or might be linked to. So, for example – one of my friends is Joe Bloggs and he works at Liverpool City Council, and their department has just done a project on X – and I think I remember that Freda Smith was involved in that – let’s see if we can get him to contact her. You could end up with a HUGE database this way! You have no strategy at present for rewarding and recognising people. It’s working just fine as it is – people absolutely feel valued and recognised, yet it’s all very informal, which, as the organisation grows, may lead to inconsistencies – there’s no guarantee that new managers would all do things in the same way unless there’s some kind of ‘Rotunda approach.’ Your ‘Achievement and Encouragement’ policy will no doubt hit the spot when you pull it together and agree it with the Board. I’m happy to help with this, of course! To be even more powerful, you could have one of your lovely huge messy consultations at a One Vision meeting and let people come up with their own ‘Achievement and Encouragement’ strategy – you did say you wanted a Gold Award nest time and it’s this type of activity that would be expected in a ‘Gold’ organisation. You could be even more creative in terms of adapting learning to people’s learning styles. You have access to an NLP trainer – ask him or her about filters/preferences/meta programs or look up Honey and Mumford’s learning styles and see what else you could tailor to meet people’s individual preferences. Consider whether some coaching training and some mentoring training might be an option for you. You are all behaving as coaches and mentors, yet to have in place a shared understanding of what is meant by each and what the skills are for 5

each, then to develop this into a more structured ‘Rotunda’ approach would be a great thing for you to do. Another one for your NLP trainer – modelling. Your one to one process is really good at picking out people’s strengths and areas for development in a work context. To be even more developmental you could consider ‘delving deeper’ – for example one person I spoke to readily told me that she would benefit from having more confidence. There are probably other staff with some very personal development needs, and as we all know, sending them on courses often isn’t the best/only way to develop these skills – one to one coaching is. This is where modelling would come in – pair somebody up with someone who has more of the skill that they’re after (not the most extreme example – or there will be too much of a mismatch!) and let them get on with it. Social responsibility is a key part of the identity of Rotunda. There is, however, more you can do… since you are a beacon of good practice (Silver IIP Awards are not ten a penny), you could invite other organisations in to learn from you – not just in your sector but from beyond. You could spread your ‘Rotunda Effect’ far and wide – there are a great number of businesses and organisations which would welcome this type of learning. Let’s get moving towards a Gold Award – with some effort in the right places, and a consistent approach, you could do this – we need to have a look at scoping it and deciding where your best challenges are going to be. For now, there are one or two areas (in addition to those mentioned above) where you could investigate whether it would be beneficial to make some effort – a Gold Award is only worth it if it benefits Rotunda! Consider developing a formalised ‘Work Life Balance’ strategy. As with Reward and Recognition, it’s not that you’re not good at Work Life Balance, it’s just that you have no specific strategy which would lead to a consistent approach – particularly in the future. As above, but for Leadership and Management – decide what you collectively want your strategy to be and set about developing it. Consider a more formal approach to ‘upward feedback’ – maybe along the lines of 360o feedback – how might you make this happen and how would you ensure that leaders and managers learn well from the feedback that people give? Career guidance and coaching – a structured approach to career guidance for staff would help them develop skills for work outside Rotunda – I know you like to keep good people but sometimes you’re going to be developing them for someone else! What we need to do is develop an action plan that will map your progress from where you are now to where you want to be, in a structured way – it will be a great addition to all the fantastic work you’ve done to date.


Specific Findings Against the Wider Framework Indicator 1 - Business Strategy ‘We have to make sure we can deliver what it says on the tin.’ ‘In the world we live in nowadays it’s about sustainability.’ ‘I didn’t really agree that we should become more commercial but that’s the reality of the world and I’ve come round to that way of thinking.’ ‘Our strategy is about saving money and looking for revenue streams – Rotunda has to be sustainable into the future.’ ‘M always asks for everybody’s opinion, she values it as well, it’s never just lip service.’ Theme 1 - Core Values ‘We are our values… there’s something that people call ‘the Rotunda effect’… it sort of hits you when you walk through the door.’ ‘We do have values; mainly it’s about valuing people, valuing diversity… that’s what we’re all about.’ ‘It’s what we all want for our community.’ ‘Our core values don’t just exist in this building – we express them out there, visually.’ I don’t know, it sounds cheesy, but it’s like getting a hug when you come in here.’

Theme 3 - Involvement of People ‘We have a One Vision meeting where we all get together – everybody joins in, it’s not bureaucratic.’ ‘We talk about everything at the One Vision meeting – that’s where people come up with ideas, suggestions, it’s the way forward really.’ ‘Anybody can say anything here… course they do!’ 7

‘We’ve done a lot of work on keeping people engaged during all the changes we’ve been through.’ ‘The website is still in debate – it’s a bottom-up approach!’ Theme 4 – Social Responsibility ‘Rotunda becomes part of your life, you accept that part of the job is volunteering.’ ‘We have loads of external partnerships, with the Prison Service and loads of others – social responsibility is what we’re about.’ ‘Social responsibility is who we are, but I think we go above and beyond – we do things for the local community, our staff volunteer for all kinds of things.’ ‘She threw her arms around me and said, ‘You’ve given me an education.’’ ‘We want to reach out even further – we want a lot of little Rotundas all over the place.’ ‘We have partners in the building now – like the Richmond Partnership – a mental health charity, we help them and they help us.’

Indicator 2 - Learning & Development Strategy Theme 5 - Identification of Learning & Development Needs ‘We talk about how we’re doing in one to ones, if we need training she talks about it then with you.’ Theme 6 – Links Between Learning and Development Strategy and Vision ‘Rotunda is all about learning. It’s about giving people as many skills as possible and as much flexibility as possible. That’s what helps then to grow as individuals and that’s what helps us to achieve our strategy.’ ‘Our vision is to empower people. They are empowered to go and learn whatever they want to learn, they’re like role models for people [service users] who come in here.’ ‘It’s about developing people. I know people look at me and think “if she can achieve it, I can achieve it.”’ Theme 7 – Innovation, Flexibility and Learning Styles ‘Well, you can do any of the courses on offer here, there’s open learning, more elearning these days I suppose.’ Theme 8 - Continuous Learning Culture ‘We are all learners, it sort of defines us.’ ‘You never stop learning, it’s this place. I’m {age} and I’m doing a degree in X. I used to think that the arts weren’t for ‘the likes of us!’


Indicator 3 - People Management Strategy Theme 11 - Work Life Balance ‘M is keen for people to take their time off in lieu – when we’ve been working particularly hard she’ll say something like ‘let’s have an early dart.’’ ‘It’s very family orientated here – school hours are OK – there’s a lot of give and take.’ ‘If you need to come in late for any reason it’s never a problem.’ ‘People who are ‘nine to five’ don’t last – you have to be more flexible than that.’ ‘It’s swings and roundabouts, you always get the time back though.’

Indicator 4 - Leadership & Management Strategy Theme 14 - Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours ‘M is very good at seeing the bigger picture, she allows you to do what you’re good at and helps you develop that.’ ‘We get feedback through our one to ones, it’s useful.’ Theme 16 - Leadership & Management Development ‘I’m doing an OU degree in Management. M invited in the OU to broaden people’s horizons… there’s been quite a big take-up.’

Indicator 5 - Management Effectiveness ‘Oh my god, the managers here are brilliant – you can throw anything at them, nothing phases them.’ Theme 18 - Communication, Feedback & Knowledge Sharing ‘We have weekly one to ones for managers and a lot gets shared then, it’s a good catch up.’ ‘It’s a team approach, so if somebody picks something up they bring to a meeting and tell everybody – we share a lot.’ ‘We all bob into each others’ rooms – it’s dead informal.’ ‘Communication here’s excellent.’ Theme 20 - Inspirational Leadership ‘You say thank you; I try to do this every day with everybody.’ ‘She came in like a whirlwind, she put in place all kinds of things, it’s got us on a better footing and she’s relaxed a lot more now.’ ‘Her leadership style is very hands on – her door’s always open.’ 9

‘We have more processes, it’s more professional, in the big world of professionals.’ [that we’re working with] ‘M is so relaxed, very approachable; you wouldn’t know she was the CEO.’ (this was verified the second time I visited when I found the CEO chopping tomatoes in the kitchen!) ‘M is a very strong leader, although she’s mellowed – we’ve moulded her! She’s very approachable and she’ll assist you with anything.’ ‘I’m happy to get my rubber gloves on and clean the toilets.’

Indicator 6 - Recognition and Reward ‘There’s always a recognition of people’s efforts.’ Theme 21 – Application of Recognition Strategy ‘I’m working on putting an Achievement and Encouragement Strategy together at the moment.’ Theme 22 – Involvement in Development of Recognition Strategy ‘No, no-one’s ever asked.’ [how we’d like to be rewarded and recognised.] ‘There aren’t too many options in places like this – it’s certainly not a bonus culture, but we do all feel recognised.’ ‘It’s the little things, cakes and chocolate – food always works!’ Theme 23 - Employee Motivation ‘I love working here… there’s nowhere like it; people never leave – have you noticed how long most of us have been here?’ ‘It’s just a great, great place to work.’ ‘It’s friendly, welcoming, comfortable, like a little family, everybody’s so helpful. We’re a good little team.’ ‘I love coming to work – I look forward to it.’ ‘I get a massive amount from my work.’ Theme 24 - Celebration of Success ‘Internally, we make a fuss… we’ve got the website now as well.’ ‘We’re very good at celebrating, we have open days and family days where we all get together – it’s a bit like a big family party.’ ‘M is into people getting awards as a way of recognising them and what they’ve achieved… I’m the ‘Learner of the Year’ in the North West!’


Indicator 7 - Involvement and Empowerment Theme 25 - Ownership, Trust and Pride ‘It’s just a great, great place to work.’ ‘I love it here, it’s like a big family, a home away from home.’ ‘This is a beautiful organisation.’ ‘I’ve worked in all kind of places but nowhere like this – it’s very special.’ ‘We never could have guessed when we set it up what it would have turned into… yes, I do feel proud.’ ‘When you hear stories about the difference we’re making to people’s lives, it makes you proud to have been involved.’ ‘I even think people are proud of the area that Rotunda is in – the sculpture out there, you’d think it would get vandalised but it doesn’t.’ Theme 26 - Consultation and Communication Systems ‘We have a One Vision meeting where we all get together – everybody joins in, it’s not bureaucratic.’ ‘We talk about everything at the One Vision meeting – that’s where people come up with ideas, suggestions, it’s the way forward really.’ ‘Anybody can say anything here… course they do!’ ‘We’ve done a lot of work on keeping people engaged during all the changes we’ve been through.’ ‘The website is still in debate – it’s a bottom-up approach!’ Theme 27 - Continuous Improvement Culture ‘We do want to make it better – you have to because the world changes so fast – you’re always asking ‘what’s next?’ and ‘how can we improve?’. ‘I think M has been the driver for a lot of improvements.’ ‘We look at things and ask if we could do it better… reception was chaos so we put in a process… it didn’t really work like we thought it would so we all got together again and came up with something else… it’s not perfect but it’s a big improvement.’ ‘We ask students for feedback and we ask ourselves as well.’

Indicator 8 - Learning & Development Theme 30 - Mentoring & Support ‘We do use mentoring here and we also take it outside… I’m a mentor for a Head Teacher as a result of the Community Culture Champions.’ ‘There’s somebody for everybody I think, in this place – we all know who we can go to.’ Theme 31 – Learning Organisation ‘I’ve done all sorts of courses… if you want to do something, M will find a way.’ ‘Let’s put it this way, I’ve done everything on the curriculum here.’ 11

‘They’re training me in practical skills, things I didn’t learn at Uni – like funding applications, how to network, how to run workshops – it’s amazing.’ ‘Rotunda is about learning – empowering and enabling and encouraging people to learn. That’s all of us.’


Evidence Requirements assessed were as follows: Traffic lighted (Red, Amber and Green)

The Standard – Evidence Requirements ER











1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 Key: Evidence Requirement Met Further Evidence Required

Met with Development Opportunity Evidence Requirement Not Assessed



More clarity on reward and recognition

Suggested Activity

Get started on your Achievement and Encouragement strategy!

Potential benefits of doing/risks of not doing Benefit – clarity, consistency of approach, no debate as you head into the future as to how Rotunda and its leaders and managers should rewards and recognise people

Suggested Timescale

Support available


As I said, I’m more than happy to help you with this

Whenever you think would be a good time

As above – happy to help, but you might have to pay me for that!

Risk – potential for inconsistency, some things that should be rewarded could get missed.

Coaching and mentoring approach

Decide what approach you want – do you want to be trained coaches – to pull together all the things you’ve learned on other courses and have a common approach? Would mentors benefit The Rotunda? Mentors for whom? Who should the mentors be? It’s something we can talk about at your fuller feedback meeting.

Benefit – consistent approach, people know what they can expect in terms of coaching and mentoring support Risk – you’d be ‘missing a trick’ in terms of offering people the maximum number of routes to personal development,


Looking at what you’d need to do to achieve a Gold Award

We need to meet at some point after the feedback meeting but within twelve months to scope what might be useful for Rotunda – what challenges can Investors in People offer that might help strengthen your business?

Benefit – you are capable of achieving a Gold Award – it would accredit your good practice but also give you some further development and ‘stretch’. Risk – none!


Before June 2013

Of course – we’ll do this together

Conclusion I’d like to express my thanks to all those who took part in the Investors in People interviews for their honesty, friendliness and forthrightness. Thanks also to those I met in corridors and the kitchen and chatted to! Without people’s honesty, Investors in People reviews would not be effective. I’d also like to congratulate The Rotunda; the team and its leaders have transformed the organisation and put it on the right track for the future. Working towards an Investors in People Gold Award will only strengthen it further.

Name: Cathy Bridge Investors in People Assessor Date: 4th July 2012 Contact Details: 01254 238138 or


rotunda IIP Report 2012  

Rotunda 2012 Investors in People Report.

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