Case Studies
Psychological Safety & Strengths
Public Sector
Creating an Environment for Success
The Environment Agency (EA) is a public sector body with over 10,000 employees and a much wider network of contracted partners that help deliver £5bn+ of public service projects.
The challenge set forth to Zircon was to conduct a review of the impact created from the EA’s Collaborative Delivery Framework and analyse how well the described Collaborative Behaviours were embedded across the EA.
After a series of stakeholder interviews, desktop analysis and content analysis evidence showed there was a need to simplify the framework. It was agreed that a single model was required to describe the standards of excellence in plain language, for example; 64 down to 12 core behaviours were pinpointed as being crucial.
The bigger challenge identified during the review was the need to create an environment of trust. To facilitate this Zircon created a second program of work ‘Creating an Environment for Success’ which included:
• Using tools from the BeTalent product suite to identify individual's Strengths and cognitive diversity ranges within senior management.
• Measurement of Psychological Safety across the EA network.
• Creation of a series of workshops delivered to over 500 EA senior managers to build awareness and enable an effective decision-making culture.
Through these tactics, the EA are now in a better position to obtain the high-performance collaborative goals needed for them to succeed.
"In our initial scoping discussion to design the depth and breadth of the framework project, Zircon BeTalent asked us a great question. They said, as a client, how brave do you want to be? I said, very." - Jo Jolly, Deputy Director, Environment Agency and Project Sponsor of the Behavioural Diagnostics project
Psychological Safety & Strengths
Financial Services
Improving Diversity by Design
Brooks Macdonald Group is a leading British Investment Management Company with over £15.7 billion in funds under management (Jun 22). The business wanted to take a revolutionary approach to its recruitment programs and address the gender, ethnic and cognitive diversity balance within the business as a priority.
In 2021 Zircon were selected to consult in this important journey. The program objective was to actively recruit a Strengths based team that has varied cognitive diversity and make a measurable difference to the number of people employed, and retained, from minority groups.
The overhaul utilised Zircon’s ‘Improving Diversity by Design’ framework which included;
• C-Suite interviews, analysis and benchmarking
• Design of a Strengths based blueprint for recruitment approach
• Definition of collaborative behaviours
• Transformation of the recruitment process: applications forms, interview questions and ratings
• Identifying and removing bias (written) as well as training of senior managers (assumed and spoken)
• Using tools from the BeTalent product suite to identify individual Strengths and measure Psychological Safety (ongoing for retention)
• Widening the net of advertising to increase the pool of applicants from different backgrounds
• Retention planning
During the assessment and selection process, key performance indicators across demographic (sex, race) and cognitive diversity (Interact, Lead, Deliver and Act) ranges exceeded the 50% target which was set at the outset.
The success of the programme was further used as a catapult to get the whole business to buy into the blueprint and apply a similar approach to the recruitment of their trainees, summer intern intakes - through to the most senior roles in the company.
"Working with Zircon in revolutionising our assessment approach is changing the way the business is thinking about diversity and inclusion. This was totally new to Brooks Macdonald but after engaging with Zircon and giving our business leaders ownership of delivering the process, it has set the standard for what good recruitment looks like. Not only has it delivered everything we wanted, it has identified the proactive steps needed to create a more culturally inclusive organisation." - Andrew Shepherd, CEO
Water Market Team Development Workshops
Psychological Safety, Team and Strengths Questionnaire
In 2021/22, we were invited by Atkins to facilitate three workshops for the Water Market Team. The main aim was to introduce greater diversity of thought and innovation into the unit and create a culture where people feel more comfortable speaking up.
Workshop 1, Psychological Safety: We provided individuals with an understanding of the concept of psychological safety and gave them a toolkit around how they can use this knowledge to support their teams in being more open and willing to speak up.
Workshop 2, Team Strengths: In order to address the risks discussed in the first workshop, this workshop focused on assisting the team to identify their purpose and recognise and appreciate the strengths of the team as a whole in order to increase collaboration.
Workshop 3, Individual Strengths: Finally, the third workshop narrowed in to look at how the individuals in the team saw themselves and how others saw them, in terms of their strengths. This helped them to appreciate each other’s strengths and understand how to get the best out of each other.
"There was a real positive buzz in the market team yesterday evening, as a consequence of the fantastic insights we learned through your programme.  I’m really pleased with the foundation we have and the opportunity to build an even stronger team through 2022." - Richard Whale, Water Market Director
Royal Mail
COM Project March/April 2022
Case Study and Working Styles Questionnaire
In 2022, we were invited by Royal Mail (RM) to prepare for and deliver the 2022 COM assessment project in partnership with SOVA Assessment. This consisted of providing facilitated briefing sessions and the marking of 1,904 individuals over the period of two weeks.
Step 1 – Pilot Stage: We worked with RM and SOVA to review, pilot and test the SOVA assessment materials. We marked and peer-reviewed 12 participants and provided feedback to help refine the case study.
Step 2 – Recruitment and training: We recruited and trained 38 assessment consultants and co-designed and delivered assessment and facilitation training.
Step 3 – Scheduling: We designed a bespoke scheduling system to capture consultant availability, allocate bookings, track marking progress and peer review/feedback to ensure consistency and fairness.
Step 4 – Facilitated briefing: Working with multiple stakeholders from RM and SOVA, we delivered 20 facilitated sessions each with up to 120 candidates. To ensure the best possible candidate experience, we provided regular communication updates to the assessors and facilitators and circulated updated facilitation and assessment materials, as required.
Step 5 – Marking: We followed a robust peer reviewing process and achieved high inter-rater reliability and expected distribution of scoring, whilst ensuring that the marking turnaround of 48 hours was achieved and marking reallocations in some cases.
• Total number of facilitated Assessments: 12 (average attendance per session 159, with 4 facilitators, 1 co-ordinator and 3 SOVA IT support as required)
• Total number invited: 1904, Total number attended: 1889
• Attendance rate: 99.2%. Completion rate: 100% i.e. 100% of those who attended completed both assessments (the Case Study and the Working Styles Questionnaire)
• Number requesting extra time as part of a RA: 5.7% (108)
• Number who completed all questions in the Case Study: 96.8% (1843)
• Assessments scored: 100%
"A MASSIVE thank you for all your hard work over the last couple of weeks. It has been a challenging project with changing timescales, uncertainty over numbers and logistical and technical barriers." - Alison Flower, Assessment and Recruitment Manager
Psychological Safety Workshops
Public Sector
Shaping Leadership Culture for Impact and New Ways of Thinking
In 2021, as a result of the work with the College of Policing, we were invited by Sussex Police to lead the facilitation of Psychological Safety leadership development workshops for Sussex Police.
We partnered with one of the Sussex Police Detective Chief Inspectors to design and deliver a series of workshops using the BeTalent Psychological Safety questionnaire and card sort exercise.
Three workshops were delivered with senior stakeholders from Sussex to educate them about Psychological Safety, challenge their thinking and engage them to find ways to influence their working environment.
The aim of the workshops was to aid personal development and self-awareness and create a culture where people feel more comfortable to speak up, ask questions, challenge and disagree.
The Psychological Safety reflection enabled the leaders to raise their personal awareness and understand how others saw them, and the impact they each had personally on their culture and environment.
"It was so good to see them all so engaged.  I particularly liked the way you challenged my colleagues. It will be really interesting to see how they react to all this..." - Detective Chief Inspector


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