Communications support for major change at Bristol City Council
Bristol City Council, like other major councils, has an urgent need to change to meet the demands and targets set in the current government spending review. In addition, the profile and requirements of the users of council services are changing which will increase the demands on their services e.g. the ageing population. The Council’s challenge is to adapt the way they provide service to their residents to meet their needs effectively and efficiently.
Bristol City Council employs nearly 8,000 people across a wide variety of functions and services and they recognized the need for improved internal communications to engage and support their employees through a period of unprecedented change.
Jo Smith, Portfolio Communications Manager for the Portfolio Management Office at Bristol City Council together with her colleagues in Organisational Development, HR and Corporate Communications asked for TYL’s specialist internal communications support with the development and delivery of a framework, toolkit and templates for the planning and delivery of the change communications.
Working together with Jo and the various programme Change Communications officers, we developed a best practice approach to planning and delivering change communications and engagement. The change communications framework and toolkit we introduced set out how communications will be developed, managed, delivered and measured. It contained:
- The overall Key Message section which provided the single reference point to ensure ongoing communications are aligned and consistent with the overall Story Board. This section included methodology to create a single narrative through ‘easy to use’ templates.
- The Communications Principles which provided overarching guidance as to how they will communicate to ensure consistent high standards are maintained.
- The Communications Process section provided details on the process of how and who will provide content, edit and sign off each of the communications interventions.
- The Audience / Key Stakeholder section provided the reference point to ensure that they target communications appropriately in terms of the identified key audience groups & stakeholders, messages and approach.
- The Timeline & Distribution sections provided a calendar view of the communication interventions planned.
- The Measurement section provided the methodology to be used to ensure that they continually improve communications & engagement.
The work we did for Jo and BCC importantly also included a practical programme of training, coaching and support for the Change Communications officers. This programme contained:
- A tailored practitioner workshop covering development & use of the change communications toolkit, best practice approaches and common challenges facing communications specialists.
- Development of example communications specialists’ personal objectives and KPIs to illustrate what great looks like and to support performance management going forward.
- Delivery of regular ‘development’ update sessions which engage the programme communication specialists in best practice approaches to key disciplines.
- Remote mentoring for individuals who require additional coaching and support to raise their capability.
The change communications framework, toolkit and practitioners workshop were received very positively, with all the Change Communications officers finding the toolkit and training support extremely valuable.