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BEST PRACTICE - SOLUTION EXCHANGE

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Our council is about to undergo a major restructuring. There will be no redundancies, but job roles will change. Wh...
Our council is about to undergo a major restructuring. There will be no redundancies, but job roles will change. What is the best way of keeping our staff on side during these uncertain times?

David Clark

Director general, Solace

'Communicate until your teeth bleed' is a general rule for any restructuring. All staff need to know what is happening and why.

Newsletters are never good enough. Staff will want - and deserve - team briefings from their immediate managers and from departmental heads.

Most communications exercises fail because they concentrate on systems for telling and not on systems for listening.

Make sure that line managers and departmental heads have an opportunity to feed back to more senior management what they have heard. Also, remember that these managers are not merely passive conveyers of information; they will have ideas and concerns of their own.

Never make the mistake of talking to those who affect people's lives by proxy. Trade unions and corporate change champions have their place but everyone really wants to know what's going on from their own boss or colleague, not someone they may not have met before.

There are other issues to take into account; there are far too many to go into here, save for one. A chief executive of a major multi-national once said to me: 'I have reorganised three times in my career and, on reflection, none of them added more to the business than they cost.'

So my final point is, why restructure? Always check that your council is not trying to find a structural solution to resolve political or managerial inadequacy. If it is, restructuring will not work in any event.

I want to send the senior managers in our council on a leadership development course but am finding it difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff in the myriad courses on offer. What would be the best way to instil some leadership development training?

Kieran Stigant

Director for environment and development,

West Sussex CC

Many organisations have committed to sending people on leadership programmes with glossy brochures and expensive price tags. Fewer have taken the time to build partnerships with providers to design and deliver tailored programmes.

In West Sussex, we developed a clear picture of the kind of leaders we needed, based on well-defined competencies. We then made a commitment to fund programmes to support leaders at a range of levels across the council.

Two of our programmes might be of particular interest:

>> Working with private sector consultancy firm t-3, we designed Journey into the Future, a leadership programme designed to support new leadership behaviours across our most senior managers. As we have delivered the programme, we have built our own internal capacity to support it, which enables us to bring it in-house and make it more sustainable as we bring other managers into the programme.

>> Our Advanced Management Development Programme, an 18-month programme of work-based, self-managed learning, is delivered in partnership with University College Chichester and leads to an accredited post-graduate diploma in strategic management. This is generally targeted at developing the next generation of leaders but its self-managed aspect allows real flexibility to meet a range of development needs.

Next week's questions

We would like to reduce the number of families we have staying in B&B accommodation. Have any councils managed to solve this problem?

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