Writing is first of all a fantastic means of communication to express ideas and pass information rather than a means to hide oneself behind bureaucracy. Jargon and pompous phrases make the public look at our organisation as boring, old fashioned, over-serious and unattractive. This course is a huge contribution to changing our organisation's image.Catherine Dohou, Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Communicaid was selected to work in partnership with the FCO’s Learning and Development team to design and deliver a series of writing programmes designed to enhance the written communication skills of the organisation’s staff. The programme was rolled out across the entire organisation – from support staff through to middle and senior managers.
The Professional Skills for Government (PSG) programme is a civil service-wide initiative aimed at enabling all civil service employees to develop the professional skills necessary to carry out their roles more effectively.
The FCO’s Board is fully committed to implementing PSG across the organisation as a means of not only developing professional skills and motivating staff, but also as a means of fostering longer term organisational improvements. Effective written communication has been identified as an essential core skill for FCO employees, with all members of staff required to master a level appropriate to their grade and responsibilities. It is in response to this initiative that the FCO engaged Communicaid as its partner for written communication skills courses.
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), commonly called the Foreign Office, is a department of the United Kingdom government. It is responsible for promoting British interests overseas, supporting British citizens and businesses around the globe.
The FCO has a worldwide network of embassies and consulates, employing over 14,000 people in nearly 270 diplomatic offices. We work with international organisations to promote British interests and global security, including the EU, NATO, the United Nations, the UN Security Council and the Commonwealth.
The key requirements of the training were to:
The main challenges were seen as:
To ensure the courses were relevant to FCO staff and their roles, authentic FCO documents and samples were used by Communicaid in partnership with the FCO’s Learning & Development Team to design the course content.
Pilots were then subsequently scheduled for these programmes which were observed by both Communicaid’s Culture and Communication Manager and a member of the FCO’s Learning & Development team. These pilot sessions were very fruitful in allowing both Communicaid and the FCO’s Learning & Development team to identify areas of enhancement and improvements that could be implemented before general roll out across the organisation took place.
To ensure that a balance was struck between providing a consistent and standardised approach while meeting individual needs, all delegates were required to complete a pre-training questionnaire, a pre-training task and submit a sample of unedited work to the trainers to review before attending their sessions.
“I found the Effective Writing course beneficial because it allowed me to learn how to plan my drafting, and how to develop a clear, concise and accurate writing style. Only a few days after the course, my line manager congratulated me on the improvements I had made. I did appreciate the coaching as it was an opportunity to give feedback on how we managed to practise what we learned. Most importantly, I think that I realised that writing is first of all a fantastic means of communication to express ideas and pass information rather than a means to hide oneself behind bureaucracy. Jargon and pompous phrases make the public look at our organisation as boring, old fashioned, over-serious and unattractive. This course is a huge contribution to changing our organisation’s image.” Catherine Dohou, Foreign & Commonwealth Office