Zoological Society of London

Embedding a new competency framework

Founded in 1826, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

The challenge

In 2015 ZSL launched their new competency framework – capturing and communicating for the first time a common understanding of what ‘excellent’ behaviour looks like at ZSL, linked to organisational values. The framework forms the foundation for the management, support and recognition of individual performance and, in time, will inform a redesigned appraisal / personal development review scheme, recruitment processes and a performance management system.


ZSL leaders play a vital role in encouraging ZSL staff to deliver these competencies through role-modelling the framework. Therefore, alongside the framework’s launch, ZSL wanted to give directors and senior managers an insight into how they are perceived as delivering these behaviours by their team colleagues, peers and own managers; with support to enable individuals and the director team to play to their strengths and improve in any areas where needed.

Having worked very effectively with us previously, ZSL’s head of training and OD was keen to work in partnership with us to design and support the delivery of this important part of the project to launch the new framework.


The solution


We created a 360° feedback questionnaire, built directly around the behaviours of the new ZSL competency framework, an individual report summarising a wealth of quantitative and qualitative data and group reports that have enabled ZSL to identify common areas of strength and development needs.

For just about all of the population of directors and senior managers, this was their first experience of 360° feedback, so communication of its purpose, details of how the process would work and the opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns was especially important. For this reason, the competency framework and the 360° project were jointly launched by ZSL HR colleagues and our consultants at a senior staff away-day and followed up by any-time access to a webinar and 1-1 support for all those who were participating in the 360° exercise.

The success of any 360° project depends largely on the way that individuals are supported and challenged to understand and apply the learning from others’ feedback. A consultant facilitated the 360° feedback sessions for the director general and the members of his director team and briefed the director team to do the same with their direct reports.

Due to the success of the first 360° exercise, we were asked to design a second version of the questionnaire for the next level of management within ZSL. These managers had offered 360° feedback to their senior colleagues and were very keen to have the same opportunity extended to them.

The results


  • 100% agreed or strongly agreed that their review meeting was supportive and 80% stated that they received balanced feedback on strengths and development areas.
  • 50 directors and senior managers received 360° feedback against the new ZSL behaviours.
  • 80% have acted on the feedback that they have received.