Headlines: March 15th, 2005

Councillors in South Ribble, in the north west of England, have taken part in a pilot assessment scheme to help develop their leadership skills. The 360 degree assessment seeks to identify their strengths and weaknesses and helps them to decide what they could start to do, stop doing and continue to do or do differently. Each council member could choose up to eight people who they wanted to complete assessment questionnaires. This could include other councillors at South Ribble, councillors at other councils they came into contact with, officers of the council or people they worked with on outside bodies. Because of the success of the assessment it is likely to become an annual event.This form of assessment has been in use for managers at South Ribble for some years and focuses on teamwork, employee development, and customer service. By involving a full circle of feedback sources it provides a more comprehensive picture of performance than relying on a one to one supervisor to employee feedback.

Councillor Howard Gore, Leader of the Council said: “Councillors are very conscious that we run a multi-million pound organisation and therefore it is vital that we have a further form of learning development tool in place to guarantee we deliver quality services to residents.”

The recently published Good Governance Standard for Public Services describes the need for individual governors, whether appointed or elected, to be held to account through regular performance reviews and for an assessment to be made of training and development needs. The Standard also provides for governing bodies, such as NHS Trusts and local councils, to review performance as a whole. This would involve assessing ways of working and achievements and agreeing on an action plan for improvement.