I manage the constituency office for an MP in the West Midlands. He was first elected in a byelection early in 2017 and then re-elected in the general election later that year. The team is therefore quite new and the first few months felt a bit temporary.
Doing things a different way
My background is in managing public services and my favourite part of managing has always been developing people to their full potential. I’ve had responsibility for the learning and development of staff for most of my career and I feel strongly that developing your staff has a very positive impact on the team and their output.
When I started working in a constituency office, I recognised that we had a pretty healthy output but most of us felt that we weren’t using the full capacity of the Office 365 package. In a nutshell, we knew that we weren’t doing things in the most efficient way or the wrong way.
So I asked the Digital Service if they could help. After a bit of discussion, Salim Ali and Gentha Sewnath travelled up here to do two sessions of Office 365 training for the staff of our office and another local MP. The session was interactive with the user engagement team patiently answering all of our random questions.
Using the training straight away
I think that there are benefits to learning in this kind of group, especially when different people have different requirements. The staff here got a lot from the sessions and helped each other to identify where and how the new knowledge could be positively applied to our work.
Although it’s exciting and interesting travelling to London to get this kind of training session, the potential for improving as a team is much more likely when you’re on home turf. It’s also much more cost effective and the learning is applied instantly as the team return to their desks.
Our SharePoint site was created shortly after the training and started to fill up with the information that we had been emailing to each other instead of using a shared drive. That’s just one small but efficient change we made straight away.
I’d recommend anyone who works for an MP to get in touch with the user engagement team and see how Office 365 can help make your office run smoother and more efficiently.
Read more about what the user engagement team do.