In-house training for city, district and regional councils is our core business. We have worked with half of the councils in New Zealand and many of our relationships began more than a decade ago. They like what we do and we like working with them.
That experience means that when you mention non-notified consents, the RMA or The Act we know what you are talking about. We may not have your technical expertise, but we can help you relate fresh ideas about communication and professional development to the work you do every day.
Check out our suggestions for your training programme. (If there's anything else on our website that matches your needs, just give us a call. It might be a combination of skills. No problem. We'll design it for you. That's the advantage of in-house training.)
Presentation skills for councils
We can signficantly improve your speakers' skills and confidence. We understand that the communication needs of your council will be diverse and challenging. For many staff it can be a daunting experience to speak to a public meeting on a contentious issue. Others will be presenting information to a full council meeting, or to the Environment Court, or to a community meeting and facing probing, emotionally-loaded, even hostile questions.
Your training would be designed especially for you. Consider such core themes as: how to replace nervousness with confidence and authority, how to persuade, how to organise your thoughts and prepare, how to handle questions and interjections, how to use PowerPoint effectively. And, how to engage with any audience so that they respect you, even when they disagree with you. For those who take part in public consultations, we'll provide a way of managing the audience's expectations.
Dealing with challenging behaviours and difficult situations
We understand the stress experienced by council staff who have an enforcement role, or who are the first point of contact for angry or abusive customers. We will show them how to handle difficult and even threatening situations in ways that are both professional and safe. They will gain confidence and practical skills in dealing with very challenging behaviours. Whether your staff are issuing parking tickets, managing consents or running the library, they will have the skills to handle conversations in stressful situations.
We recommend you include such core themes as: recognising our own triggers in conflict; defining boundaries; managing strong emotions; recognising and managing adrenaline—theirs and yours; talking someone down to calmness; appropriate empathy; saying ‘no’ effectively and without generating fallout; knowing which strategy to use for which behaviours; keeping yourself and others safe; maintaining professionalism under stress; getting agreements and resolutions.
Plain English for council staff
It's a customer service issue. We'll show your staff how to write clear, concise well-structured emails, letters and reports for residents, consent applicants and councillors. We will teach them the simple writing and editing system we have developed and taught to hundreds of council planners, engineers, scientists, and enforcement and administrative staff over many years. It's a very focused way of producing plain English every time, and building a relationship with readers. We can help you in other ways to develop a plain English culture.
Writing skills for council building staff
It's about efficiency and encouraging cooperation with building owners and their agents. We can help your building inspectors write site inspection notices that leave no doubt about the action they want the owner or agent to take. The notices will be more useful, not only to builders and owners, but the council's processing staff too. We can also help your staff develop their letter writing skills so that they build a cooperative relationship with their readers when they ask for information.
Media skills for councils
For historical and cultural reasons, some councils get very rough treatment from the news media. Many reporters who tell themselves they are ‘keeping the council honest’ constantly portray the council in the worst possible light, often assuming that staff are incompetent and that it only remains to find the proof. We can help you overcome that negativity and achieve a better relationship with the media.
Our approach is to help you work with the media in a way that benefits the council, your residents - and the media.
Whether your media contact is routine or challenging, we can show your staff (and councillors) how to work with the news media with confidence and authority. As well as your specific needs, we recommend that the workshop includes: how to take the first call from a reporter; how to prepare key messages the public will listen to. And, above all, how to give a confident, convincing interview. For those likely to be in the firing line, we can also show how to handle tough, emotionally-loaded interviews.
We are specialists in how to handle contentious issues in the media.
Customer service for councils
Your staff will own their customer service programme. We'll take them through a thorough look at what it's like to be a customer of theirs, then help them develop a programme of improvements.
Most employees are keen to take part when we respect their knowledge of their customers and help them use it. Getting them on-board with a customer service focus is as important as the on-going series of mini-projects we can help them develop.
It's a health and safety issue. It's also about ensuring that your staff are fully engaged in their work - and problem-solvers, not passive victims of work pressures. We'll show them simple techniques that the most resilient people use when the going gets tough. The workshop would draw on research over the last 20 years which reveals what resilient people really do. The training is just as relevant for teams as individuals.
We will design a workshop to meet your needs. Consider such topics as: choices resilient people make, how to develop real optimism, how to manage disruptive emotions and stress, how to build your supportive relationships, how to keep yourself motivated, how to motivate others in challenging times.
Your managers and team leaders can learn the leadership principles and practical day-to-day skills they need to thrive in the council environment. They'll learn how to develop successful, productive teams that work collaboratively with other groups.
We will design the training to match your needs. Consider such core themes as: leadership profiling to determine strengths and weaknesses; team dynamics; managing change; relationship management; influential strategies; negotiating for resources and agreements; giving feedback; setting goals; measuring progress; developing others; modelling emotionally intelligent behaviours.