a&dc has built a strong reputation in the market. Find out how we helped Northern Gas Networks to identify and maximise the involvement of talented staff in realising their business strategy.


Northern Gas Networks

Client Profile

Industry Sector: Energy distribution
Location: UK

The Challenge

In 2010 NGN was rated the worst performing gas network for customer service. By 2015 it had become the leader in all performance areas; having driven through a relentless programme of change, focused on creating the right culture to deliver for its customers. In response to regulatory pressure to simultaneously reduce costs and improve operational performance, NGN’s talent management strategy forms an integral and critical part of the CEO and board members’ ambition to be more customer oriented and agile; identifying and maximising the involvement of talented staff in its realisation. NGN recognised a need to partner with a leading talent management consultancy that would provide support and challenge to the strategy’s development and realisation as the business planned to draft and win their bid for the next 10 year regulatory period.

NGN identified as a priority making a serious investment in developing its people; enabling them to be at their best and allowing individuals and the business to understand strengths and development needs as a starting point for further growth. NGN’s mandate to a&dc was to create a strategy that resulted in a talent identification and development process that for individual staff was different, challenging, but also fun.

The Solution

Since NGN looks outside of the energy industry for inspiration to successful organisations such as John Lewis and McLaren, rather than use leadership behaviours from elsewhere in the energy industry, a&dc recommended development of a bespoke competency framework, using language to reflect NGN’s culture of inclusivity and to enhance engagement and take-up. Using best-practice job analysis and research methodology and maximum participation across the business, the resulting seven competencies were in turn aligned with three broad talent pools. These competencies formed the foundation of the design of a series of talent centres and a choice of behavioural and psychometric assessments.

NGN’s CEO, Mark Horsley and Business Review Group (BRG) colleagues were intimately involved at all stages of the development and implementation of the strategy. Given the mandate for an element of fun and NGN’s excitement about McLaren’s operation, a&dc recommended a Formula 1 theme to percolate through all languages used in the talent centres (e.g. rating scales, roles of observers and assessors, pre / during / post centre communications – even to the extent that the participants wore F1 shirts!)

Each participating individual received a feedback report, shared in a 1-1 coaching session that summarised:

  • Talent centre performance against competencies
  • Preferred talent pool (People Manager, Networker, Specialist) as suggested by competency performance
  • Saville Wave, Emotional Intelligence Profile and Learning Styles Questionnaire results
  • What this meant for current or future roles
  • A draft talent development plan to implement in the workplace.

Northern Gas Networks - Identify talent to improve customer service results

The Results

  • 78% of candidates had a better understanding of their strengths and development areas.
  • Since completing the talent centres, six participants have been promoted within NGN, and two of them have taken positions on the senior management team.
  • Managers noticed a rise in the participants’ confidence, a willingness to step outside of their comfort zones and to think more strategically.
  • Data from the talent centres resulted in a professional development programme, influencing its planning, content and approach.

What the Client says

“We have certainly enjoyed working with you guys and it has come at a perfect time in our evolution! We think we have an amazing group of people, yes there are deficiencies and I guess there always will, however, the spirit is overwhelmingly strong so everything can be built from that starting point. I truly believe we are breaking new ground in the Utility sector but I am desperate to learn more from other sectors. Once again, thank you for the successful assignment and no
doubt we will see you all in the future.” Mark Horsley, CEO, Northern Gas Networks