Digital skills for Regulators

An old sign from a regulators

Friends and family nod approvingly when I explain our training work. This is a first for me, as a former civil servant and journalist – until now the looks have been blank, or furrowed.

What’s less easy to explain are the types of organisation we help. Large Government departments and financial services companies are recognised. But, by accident more than design, we’ve provided digital training and support for lots of different regulators too.

Regulators oversee different sectors and activities, spanning health, transport, finance, consumer protection and employment. Unlike Nike, Tesco, or, say, Land Rover, regulators aren’t really household brands, they don’t have a high street presence and you’ll rarely see them advertising.

However, they almost all have a need to use the web: to publish their work, talk to the businesses and practitioners they are closest to, or seek feedback and consult with the public. That’s where our work comes in.

We’ve delivered training programmes for UK regulators in the health, finance and transport sectors. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

People who work in regulators seem to have a great appetite to do more online, but are held back by the idea that they don’t necessarily have a broad public audience. That somehow this precludes them from using social media, or planning better online journeys for the people they are dealing with every day.

Of the regulators we have worked with, there are some common challenges to digital:

  • Digital teams are small in number and resources
  • Their audience is broad: from technical practitioners through to slightly curious members of the public
  • They have lots of fantastic data and successes to share
  • Some considerable legal and regulatory barriers to observe, that limit certain types of online activity
  • They are the focus of a specialist and very vocal trade press
  • They all have a serious safety/protection remit

A spray-and-pray approach to digital training is no use in this context. Sure, there are lots of things regulators could be doing online – but should they, or can they?

Digital training for regulators

So far, we’ve focussed our efforts on empowering senior voices (who already speak publicly for their employer) to engage in conversations online. We have provided one-on-one coaching and personalised action learning to staff who feel they are catching up with digital, but want to do more.

We’ve run small, tightly-focussed workshops to help all different grades of staff to identify ways in which digital might apply to their work – whether that’s collaborating internally, planning better services, or communicating externally.

Large strategy documents rarely improve digital skills, but we have provided senior teams with some guiding principles for assessing and approving digital projects. And we’ve helped organisations to consult better, using the web.

Just because an organisation regulates, rather than sells or administers, doesn’t mean their need for digital skills is any less important.

Photo courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamescridland/