By Jared Ingle, AskYourTeam

Whangārei District Council (WDC) has seen its ranking of organisational performance amongst all New Zealand councils improve dramatically – from the bottom 25th percentile to the top 10th percentile – thanks to an approach that has people and organisational listening at its heart.

While there was no shortage of purpose and passion for making a difference at the individual level, the wider team was struggling to bring it together, and have that translate to the community in a unified and cohesive way.

Partnering with AskYourTeam in 2018, WDC developed an organisational listening survey that involved people at every level throughout the council. Through the survey WDC learned it needed to clarify organisational strategy and vision. 

Instead of council strategists taking charge, the task was led by a large team from across the organisation. 

WDC Cemetery Operations team member Hayden Parr said, “We worked out what we needed to do, and led the changes. Thirty four of us built this together with an action plan based around our ways of working.”

A key foundation of AskYourTeam’s platform is anonymity, giving people the freedom and ability to share their views, because who better to ask for their insights than those at the frontline of community delivery?

WDC HR Manager, Jenny Antunovich, said that AskYourTeam enabled the Council to create a true culture of collaboration and involvement.

“We are all empowered to have a voice and support each other to lift our organisational performance and the outcomes we deliver to our community,” Ms Antunovich said. 

Fast forward three years and WDC has a strategy – developed by its people – that strengthens connections between people and places, and super-charged its performance. 

Not only that, WDC also picked up a couple of awards along the way too; The 2021 NZ HR Organisational Change Award, and the 2021 Taituara Award for Excellence in Organisation and People Development.

Speaking of the Council’s new approach to involving its people more meaningfully, the then WDC CEO, Rob Forlong, said, “We placed one of the most important decisions in the hands of our staff, and we (the leadership team) said we weren’t going to fiddle with it. 

“The output really exceeded our expectations, there’s so much positive change in Whangārei, and this is just the beginning of it.”

While this might seem like a big ask, driving positive change in your council is easier than you think with a partner like AskYourTeam by your side. 

Over the past 10 years we have forged partnerships with two thirds of councils in New Zealand, understanding the challenges and supporting leaders at every step of the journey to transform their organisations.

To find out how to get your council started on a journey of improvement just AskYourTeam: 

This is a sponsored editorial brought to you by AskYourTeam, for more information go to 


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