The client

West Mercia Police covers almost 3,000 square miles, making it the fourth largest police area in England and Wales.

The challenge

As part of their Looking to 2020 change programme, West Mercia Police were moving towards a new operating model and organisation structure for back-office functions, known collectively as Services to Policing.

The new structure aimed to rationalise Services to Policing to six core functions as a way of achieving best value in the face of austerity.

The new operating model would increase the span of control for leaders and require them to have extensive skills in leading change, collaborative working and creating high performing teams.

The Head of Leadership Development wanted to understand the individual and collective capability of leaders to support development, progression, and succession planning.

She asked Change Associates to help.


What we did

We began by creating a shared understanding of what great leadership looked like in Services to Policing, calling on the College of Policing Competency and Values Framework and the alliance’s existing analysis that prioritised Change, Operational and Partnership leadership.

This identified the key competencies and performance indicators which could be assessed and measured in a development centre.

We recommended using the Primary Colours® Model of Leadership at the heart of the development centre because the model could easily be mapped onto the force’s own approach. Primary Colours was ideal because it explores the interpersonal, operational and strategic elements of leadership.

We ran five assessment and development centres for 35 top-level leaders and their direct reports.

Each leader went through the Primary Colours® and Change Associates assessment process including:

  • Completing three personality assessment surveys mapped to the Primary Colours model, including NEO and Hogan.
  • Analysis of a case study designed specifically for Services to Policing, followed by a presentation of their key recommendations to our assessors.
  • One-to-one structured interview with a highly qualified assessor to explore his or her current role, aspirations, interests and earlier life.

Participants received a personalised report and feedback session from a qualified senior assessor and a plan for developing key skills and capabilities. We also provided analysis and insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the leadership team as a whole.

This collective analysis revealed a significant gap between the capability of the top leaders and those at the next level down. The implications for succession planning were clear. Either the next generation of leaders would have to come from outside of the organisation or the current leadership team would have to work harder at transferring their skills and empowering others.

Change Associates also facilitated workshops with both the senior team and the participants to ensure they understood the analysis and to help translate the insight into prioritised actions.


The result

  • Each participant left with an understanding of their areas of strength and a personal development plan to close any gaps.
  • Leaders bought into the process and the findings because they could see it was an objective approach with real data behind it.
  • Senior leadership knew where the succession plan needed work and got recommendations about how to address it.
  • The feedback from participants and our project sponsor was excellent.
  • We agreed with the organisation the priorities and actions to address the identified gaps and build the leadership capability required for the future.

Image (c) Shutterstock | BasPhoto

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *