Examples of Recent Work
For West Midlands Employers – worked to create a summary ‘Plan on a Page’ to help communicate the developing new 2020 strategy and membership offer to councils and public sector partners.
For Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership – helped build a stronger brand for Worcestershire. Interviewed 30 partners and businesses to gather views and perspectives, researched what other areas do and produced conclusions and recommendations for the LEP Board. This work paved the way for a new overall brand for Worcestershire.
For Malvern Hills Trust – brought in to support their communication and consultation as they moved to a new business model from Five Acts of Parliament into a new and simpler Charity Commission ‘Scheme’. I also created a public facing summary of what the changes meant and ran residents and sixth form face to face focus groups to help gather views.
For Eden District Council – facilitated an away event for all managers to enable the new Chief Executive to share her vision, and help facilitate buy in to it – and give some feedback on her people. Result – a positive team building exercise that also led to a new streamlined structure.
For individuals – coaching for performance and particulary for interviews and career change. I’ve worked with four people recently and done mock interviews, helped each sell themselves well and coached them through the process. Result – all got the jobs! Two of these are at Chief Executive level – one for local Government, one for a national organisation.
For the European Printing Industry (Intergraf) – facilitated four European wide conferences/workshops on the future of print – books, magazines, direct mail and the latest in Graz in Austria last June 2019 was on future skill needs for the industry. Result was clarity on the key issues across industry and academia of what needs to be done.
Mind Gym Worksouts
After graduating from the Mind Gym Academy I delivered 25 ‘workouts’ to organisations including British Gas, The Trainline and Ecclesiastical Insurance. No gym and Lycra but a lot of stretching people’s thinking! The content is all very practical delivered in 90 minute training on practical management topics, backed up by psychology. The names nicely summarise the topics, for example Saying No, Fleeting Meetings, Hearing What People Say, Managing Upwards, Influence and Persuade, Stress Busters, Goal Getting, Courageous Conversations and Great Feedback. The approach is to have a conversation with people rather than death by PowerPoint and introduce models and pin it down to practical things people can do straight away back in the office.
The most satisfying thing was getting good ratings from participants and hearing how people would apply the learning; the least satisfying was the time taken to learn the workouts! While I decided to move on from Mind Gym training the learning I got was immense. At the heart of all workouts are tools and techniques to help people be positive, confident and play to their strengths. We spend too much time worrying about our weaknesses. Mental state of mind is key, as Hungarian Psychologist Albert Bandura says.. “The reason effective and decisive people are effective and decisive is because they believe they are”. You become what you think about so get the right mindset and you’re pretty much there. Not so easy in these troubled times though.
“Fiona’s upbeat, motivating style and great practical examples made the session for me”
“Very useful session, well presented, will use the content straight away”
Mind Gym participants comments
Working with Colleges
After being invited to be the pre dinner speaker to the Association of Colleges Annual Conference, some of the lively HR audience then involved me in work back at base. For City and Islington College I ran a ‘Now that’s What I Call Engagement’ session for their top managers to help them better engage with their staff. I also helped with their Strategy, running at ‘Lets talk about Strategy” session with all their 100 managers, communicating key issues for their sector, their draft strategy and setting out a plan for how managers could involve their teams – creating stronger ownership, and thus commitment to deliver it. Results so far show the approach is working; ‘open strategy’ is the jargon for this better approach of involving people early. Obvious really – people have contributed so buy in better – but many organisations still insist on strategy being a top team activity. “Now what shall we tell the children” is how the Government’s engagement guru David MacLeod puts it.
Burton and South Derbyshire and then West Nottinghamshire Colleges had me delivering multiple sessions to all their staff and managers as part of staff development days. I called the sessions “Thank Goodness it’s Monday!” and combined ‘So what gets you out of the bed in the morning?’ and ‘What shape am I?’ type exercises with practical suggestions to get more from their job and workplace. It was great grounding the content for all types of staff from administrators, finance clerks to senior lecturers. The mixing and flow of ideas that mixed groups generate are a real plus.
“I thought the deliverer was very good and full of enthusiasm and information”
“I now have more strategies to maintain a positive attitude”
“A really uplifting and engaging session”
Participants on the sessions at West Nottinghamshire colleges
Facilitating Partnership Away/ Home events
I love generating ideas and debate and then shaping all that into concrete plans and that’s exactly what the Trafford Partnership got me to do in their summer away day. With many different partners, lots of competing agendas, partners were united by the need to make best use of limited finances and agreed a set of joint working actions to, not only consult and communicate with residents better, but a communications protocol for working better together too. Just giving people space to air issues, map where they want to be, pin down what’s possible all helps partnerships be more effective. There are some excellent partnership improvement tools out there, but sometimes someone independent moves things just that bit more than DIY review.
“Many thanks for all of your support and excellent input into the workshop on Friday. It was a very productive day, it has really helped us move us forward and we came away with lots of great output”.
Lindsey Greenhalgh, Trafford Council
A new style Reputation MOT
As vice chair of LG Communications I led the group from councils and the LGA that developed the New Reputation Guide last year aimed at pubic sector organisations on a quest to improve their local standing and pubic perception. I then turned the 5 rules of reputation the Guide advocates into a peer review product and tested this out at Gloucester City Council interviewing people across the organisation and presented workable recommendations to get better.
“Fiona carried out a Reputation MOT for us with a view to sharpening our internal and external communications. As part of the review she interviewed councilors, managers and staff as well as doing a document review. Her approach was engaging and effective and she came up with really useful recommendations to help us improve our communication and image. Her ability to get quickly to the key issues and her involving style meant she got buy in and helped us get a handle on the things that make a difference to how our staff and communities see us. And by no means least, it helped us prioritize our time and spend too”.
Julian Wain, EX Chief Executive, Gloucester City Council
Conferences in London and Venice!
I love presenting and getting people fired up, I’m often given the after lunch slot as ‘you’ll wake them up Fiona’. But when I got a call from CICAE an organisation that was hosting a summer conference in Venice for art house cinema managers I thought this was just too good to be true. Apparently they wanted a motivating speaker to run a session on team working and had “found me on the internet” and “I like that you’ve made films too” and after realizing this was for real I booked my flight! What a lively audience, passionate, creative, young, positive, keen to learn – just the sort I’m used to after working for local government most of my life!
I’ve also delivered sessions for members as part of the LGA Leadership Academy on communications and reputation management and a full Reputation MOT at East Devon District Council that they (Chief Executive and the comms team) “has left a lasting impact on how we communicate and get the credit for what we do”.
“You made such an impact. I have lost count of how many times we have all referred to your wise words and expertise as we push on with establishing our work on reputation management”
Karen Jenkins, OD Manager at East Devon DC