City of Port Phillip

The City of Port Phillip was formed in 1994 and is an amalgamation of the former cities of Port Melbourne, South Melbourne and St Kilda.

Seven councillors representing seven wards across the city make up the Port Phillip Council.

Four divisions within council collectively administer the full range of activities and services to the Port Phillip community. These four divisions sit below the Chief Executive Officer.

The City of Port Phillip employs 936 people in full-time, part-time and casual roles across numerous sites including town halls, libraries, childcare centres and kindergartens.


The City of Port Phillip organisation had gone through a period of intense and significant change and staff morale was at an all time low. Once the new executive management team had settled in, it was time to address the values and behaviours of the organisation.


Working with Leading Teams, the City of Port Phillip implemented a program of the employees by the employees, training 12 internal staff to facilitate values and behaviours workshops. 68 workshops were held involving all staff across the organisation.


People’s confidence in the organisation has been restored. Real ownership and commitment has been built by generating awareness and acceptance of the importance of building great teams.


The City of Port Phillip (CoPP) had been through a period of significant change in 2009-10. This was a nervous organisation with a new council, a new CEO and a new Executive Management Team (EMT).

Previous training consultants had negatively impacted the organisation and staff morale was at an all time low. General Manager, Corporate Services, Mark Brady, became aware of Leading Teams when he saw a presentation at a local government workshop for emerging leaders. “I was impressed by the simplicity of the model and I could see how it could apply to Local Government, and our team in particular,” said Mark.CoPP asked Leading Teams to facilitate a values workshop with the Executives and Managers, and the team felt Jim Plunkett was a good fit for the organisation. “We were ready – the workshop was a success, we had our leadership right and we understood the Leading Teams model. The next job was to work out the best way to roll the program out,” said Mark.Given their history, CoPP didn’t want a third party rolling out their program so they decided to use the Leading Teams principles and their own people. Jim Plunkett from Leading Teams said,

“Port Phillip is a perfect example of the flexibility of the Leading Teams approach and how it can be implemented based on the needs of the customer and their people. We work closely with the City of Port Phillip to help them leverage our tools.”



The EMT framed a simple three-phase approach to roll out the program. Stage one ‘aware’, stage two ‘accept’ and stage three ‘embed’.

An EOI was called from staff across the organisation to take on a values and behaviours training responsibility. Twelve trainers were appointed enabling CoPP to roll out their program by employees, for employees.

The use of an internal leadership group was extremely well received by employees and provided a genuine and solid foundation for real cultural change.

68 workshops were held with 936 employees to introduce the concept of what makes a great team. Teams were asked to consider the values and define what behaviour was right for their team to achieve the values.

“We didn’t mind what behaviour they defined, as long as the result was the team living the values. This empowered our people and allowed them to feel real ownership,” said Mark.

Departments came together and were empowered to openly discuss the values, provide feedback and agree on the behaviours and actions to define, implement and follow through their initial commitments. The cross-functional, cross-hierarchical facilitation team witnessed remarkable changes as a result of the training.

CoPP leaders committed to going the extra step with the EMT and Managers working through feedback sessions with Leading Teams.

The Leading Teams feedback approach is quite different from standard feedback methods such as performance reviews. Peer-to-peer feedback provides a platform for an organisation to truly own their culture and be held accountable for it.

“If you are going to be a great team you need to be prepared to take a risk. With Leading Teams the experience was scary but felt absolutely safe”, said Mark.

Jim Plunkett created a supportive environment and built rapport with the team. “He has an open manner when giving feedback, and you feel fully supported. There is follow up and the positive is reinforced,” said Mark. Complementary coaching was made available through Leading Teams and an internal mentoring program.

“Every single member of the EMT has made a conscious and consistent effort to act on the feedback they have received through the program. It was clear that the Executive team wanted to be a great team, and they are well on their way,”

said Leading Teams’ Jim Plunkett. “That demonstrates buy-in, and if there is not buy-in at that level, there won’t be any through the organisation,” added Jim.


“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said Mark.


“We had minimal expectations; we knew we had to restore confidence by our people in the organisation. But we have gone so far beyond that. We have built real ownership and commitment. We have generated awareness and acceptance of the importance of building great teams.”

The workshops delivered outstanding results with ongoing departmental activities; a noticeable shift in behaviours and attitudes; greater interdepartmental cohesion and an overall tangible lift in morale.

Mark said that the breadth and scale of the program was enormous.
“It was ambitious, and our key to success was that it was driven by the organisation for the organisation. The roll out was measured and deliberate – we took the time to share the story and travel our journey together. We conducted periodic reviews and were diligent about gathering feedback. Leading Teams helped us to achieve our goals. They helped us bring our values to life and link our performance to our values. Jim’s personal service delivered confidence.”

Jim said that the EMT’swillingness to be brave stands out.

“They didn’t know where it would go but were willing to get in the game. From our perspective this has been the key to their success.”

What’s Next?

The organisation has now moved into stage 3 ‘embed’. This involves bringing the values to life inside the organisation through recruitment, training, performance management, and reward and recognition programs.

Both anecdotal and direct feedback is being gathered on an ongoing basis.However one other key metric will be the result of the next staff engagement survey.

CoPP is very proud of of its achievement, and entered the initiative in the 2012 Local Government Professional Awards. The Values and Behaviours workshop initiative was selected as a finalist for the Innovative Management award.Leading Teams continues the program with CoPP, now in its sixth year.

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We work in a wide range of industries in organisations of all sizes. Our Performance Improvement Program can be rolled out across the whole organisation, from the board and senior executive teams, right through to entry-level teams.