Waste is a high impact area for Basildon Council and one of the only services that affects every citizen and many other services within the council. The importance of strong partnerships, an openness to collaborate and clear communication within the council and its partners is integral to ensure a smooth running essential service for all residents.
Rituals of open communication
We’ve put in place rituals of communication to help us work with the council as a multidisciplinary team. By contributing to a culture that promotes shared visibility on the project strategy across our two workstreams everyone has an active hand in the work we’re doing.
It’s important to build teams that feel comfortable and trusted. Only when we feel part of a trusted team are we able to fully contribute new ideas, flag issues or risks and really drive new, innovative work forward.
Working alongside Basildon, we knew that creating the conditions for everyone in our blended team to feel comfortable and trusted was a core principle for us, ensuring everyone felt confident in the value they were contributing. We built this culture of trust by implementing tangible standards of open communication, clear plans and regular feedback.
For any work done or decisions made, the full team is always consulted, allowing the space for feedback and suggestion. When it came time to test prototypes for the redesign of the missed bin service, we agreed as a team on the process of what we would do, when we would do it and how we would get started. These processes helped us ensure that the right people were briefed at the right time on what would happen during testing and when we would record feedback.
This culture of openness allowed us to navigate potential blockers quickly and easily and maximise the impact of our work by capturing as much feedback from as many points of view as possible.
Communicating the value
To contribute to a strong relationship of trust, everyone in the service should understand the value in the work we’re doing, helping to grow the desire to get us to our end goal and contribute to changing the processes happening around them.
We know that service staff can gain a better understanding and communicate the value of new tools and ways of working when they’ve experienced it first hand. To do this we found a member of the team who was open to testing and trying new tools, someone who was trusted to share their experiences and who’s opinion would be valued by those in the wider team.
We briefed the team about a prototype we were running and their role during and after. After running the experiment for one week a trusted staff member from the waste crew presented back to the wider team:
“Spending 10 minutes setting up the iPad before I leave saves me an hour when I’m on site. This week I had to go back to paper and it was depressing.”
By bringing first hand experience from this colleague into every show and tell, we were able to communicate the value our collaboration has already begun to show in the council.
New ways of working
Open communication and transparency in our processes and ways of working is encouraging the council to grow their skill capability, ownership of the work and change behaviours towards collaboration.
The importance of this project and its potential to positively impact the whole council is shared with everyone from frontline staff to senior leadership. Bringing them all on a collaborative journey with us.
The communication rituals that we’ve built together have allowed all staff members to feel actively involved in the project that will positively impact citizens, other council services and team members. Setting these good communication practices in place now has helped bring previously siloed teams together and create more opportunities for collaboration and co-creation in the future.
It’s been rewarding to see how the joint project team has embraced open ways of working to help successfully navigate the unforeseen challenges of the recent pandemic. Open communication is now an even more essential and powerful tool than before, and we’re excited to help make it a crucial element of Basildon’s future.
This post was written by Catarina Matos, Delivery Manager at FutureGov in collaboration with James Hendry, Manager of Cleaner Neighbourhoods at Basildon Council.