The Woodland Trust
Defining Our Nature: Shaping a consistent and inspiring Culture to support the Strategy and Vision.
The Woodland Trust is the UK's largest woodland conservation charity. With a vision to see a world where woods and trees thrive for people and nature.
In response to a recent strategy review and a focus on growth, recognised the need to define a new values framework, which in it’s previous skin didn’t support the growing charity. Yet, the creation of this framework required collaboration with staff, volunteers, stakeholders, and trustees, in a way that had never been tackled before.
It also needed to connect directly to the strategic goal of transforming how the organisation operates to become a high-performing team that aligns with the broader People and Diversity & Inclusion strategies. Therefore, the challenge was to develop dynamic values and behaviours framework that would resonate with the vision and enable flexible working and volunteering while ensuring a consistent culture across The Woodland Trust. To launch the new framework successfully, a clear plan was essential.
The Woodland Trust's Vision:
To see a world where woods and trees thrive for people and nature.
In collaboration with dragonfish, The Woodland Trust embarked on a journey to develop an inspiring and unifying set of values and behaviours. The key focus was on ensuring inclusivity and representing diverse perspectives, connecting with colleagues across all areas of the charity, including harder-to-reach groups. Collaboration workshops were conducted with a diverse sample of colleagues, and the iterative consultation approach allowed multiple touch points for individuals to share their views (both online and in person), and shape the significant cultural and strategic asset.
To broaden the reach, a train-the-trainer approach was used, recruiting culture champions within different parts of the Trust who could support the facilitation of the consultation, gathering insights to shape the framework in a team-focused approach. Additionally, working closely with the leadership team and board of trustees, the final values were aligned and named "Our Nature and Values" to emphasise their significance and make them unique to the Woodland Trust.
dragonfish also designed the launch and embedding approach, creating a Roadmap that identified key activities that would have a positive impact on all colleagues, and developing a clear focus for communications and leadership.
An experiential leadership session was developed to launch the new framework and accelerate understanding, making the values relatable to all roles. Alongside the launch and leadership session, we developed a manager’s toolkit, designed to facilitate greater understanding for all colleagues, led by managers and leaders. This story was told consistently through the development of the Trust’s culture and brand narrative, bringing the nature and values to life for all colleagues.
The Woodland Trust's culture transformation programme effectively engaged numerous colleagues, inviting them to contribute to the development of a shared culture. Initial conversations with key individuals across the Trust provided a broad view and perspective, and a subsequent survey received 77% response rate. The insights gathered were distilled into five key themes that formed the foundation for 12+ workshops open to all staff across locations and roles, with over 140 attendees.
Following the launch, a recent pulse survey in June 2023 revealed that 76% of staff could now recognise and resonate with the new values. Since this the Trust has been focusing on sustainable impact, embedding the culture into the employee experience (such as recruitment and induction). With directors proactively role-modelling the framework to supporting embedding and support the success of the strategy.
The Woodland Trust's journey to an inspiring and unified culture showcased the importance of collaborative efforts in defining a dynamic values and behaviours framework. The inclusive approach, combined with impactful communications and leadership engagement, ensured widespread adoption and resonance across the organisation. With a clear connection to the strategic goals and a shared understanding of the values, The Woodland Trust is paving the way for a high-performing team dedicated to its critical vision—nurturing and preserving our precious woodlands for generations to come.
“You listened, not just to the project team, but to the staff representation group, to the exec team, to trustees and volunteers and staff across the organisation.
It's been a real pleasure to work with you. When I checked references before we started the work, I didn't quite believe how positive your previous clients were. Now I think I'd add myself to that cohort with pleasure.”
Lisa Sharples, Associate Director of People & Transformation
The Woodland Trust