Internal communications cascades for emergency and rescue services


Our client is the largest fire and rescue service in the UK.  It is an organisation of 7,200 staff, of which 5,900 are operational fire-fighters and officers working from approximately 120 locations.

Over the last decade, the Authority has carried out a great deal of work in identifying the cultural change needed to ensure that it is able to fulfil its changing role and face future challenges.  The strategic plan, aims, and values identify a clear plan for achieving this.

Communication was identified as a key strategic objective with the aim to be:

An open, inclusive organisation where all staff are aware of the Authority's values and priorities, and reflect those values in their dealings with clients and customers.  The Authority recognised the need for effective and regular face-to-face communication, up and down the organisation.

Through a tender process, Nicholson McBride was selected to work with the Authority to deliver a team briefing system to reach all staff across the Authority.  This involved extensive research: interviewing key stakeholders including directors and the assistant and deputy commissioners, as well as several focus groups across all staff levels, and across several locations. Based on this research, the team briefing process was designed to enable easy cascade (maximum of 2 cascades from corporate management board to frontline staff), a clear and easy to use feedback mechanism, and detailed communication to provide consistent messages.

Once the process was approved, Nicholson McBride created and delivered a training programme to introduce the "team briefing" process, provide role clarity, and the skills needed for effective team briefing.  These one and two-day workshops were run over a 3 month period from August - October 2005, involving middle and senior managers from across the authority, from assistant commissioners and heads of department to station managers (approx. 300 in total).  The feedback from these workshops and the overall programme has been excellent, with 100% of attendees being clear on how the team briefing system will work and what their role is. Virtually 100% said they felt confident in their skills to carry out team briefings.

Throughout the process Nicholson McBride worked closely with the Authority to develop supporting internal communications and collateral.

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