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Armidale Regional Council: A benchmark culture transformation

Armidale Regional Council (ARC) faced significant challenges stemming from leadership instability, breakdowns in relationships among councillors, and operational deficiencies, leading to a state of dysfunction and low morale within the organisation. After the appointment of James Roncon as General Manager, ARC sought to address these issues by undertaking a comprehensive culture review and turnaround strategy.

The instability in executive leadership prior to Dattner Group’s involvement saw nine CEO or General Manager appointments between 2018 and 2020, culminating in the suspension of ARC councillors and the appointment of an administrator due to serious operational concerns. This situation, compounded by staff losses and the COVID-19 pandemic, left ARC with low morale and a negative community perception.

James Roncon’s appointment marked a turning point, with a mandate to address cultural, governance, and reputational deficits while also improving the organisation’s financial health. ARC partnered with Dattner Group to conduct a culture review, engaging staff at all levels to identify strengths and challenges within the organisation.

Following the review, a leadership and culture development program was initiated, aiming to rebuild ARC’s culture and performance. This program included extensive engagement with staff, incorporating their feedback into the final recommendations. Additionally, initiatives were implemented to enhance leadership skills and foster a constructive and sustainable organisational culture.

The approach prioritised data-driven interventions, inclusive decision-making, and transparent communication, laying the groundwork for ARC’s transformation journey under James Roncon’s leadership.

To find out exactly how they did it read the full case study.