EMC In-House Training & Development and Support

Action Learning Facilitation

Action Learning Facilitation 

East Midlands Councils have been supporting local authorities in the East Midlands to develop their own internal Action Learning Facilitators.

If you would like information on Action Learning or details of how to join an East Midlands Councils facilitated Action Learning set feel free to contact Lisa Butterfill lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk or Kirsty Lowe Kirsty.Lowe@emcouncils.gov.uk on 01664 502 620.

EMCs Action Learning Facilitators Programme

The highly practical 5 day programme has provided delegates with an understanding of the principles of Action Learning, as well as facilitation practice.

Delegates have been able to;

  • understand the principles and theory of action learning
  • reflect on the benefits and implications of an action learning intervention
  • experience the difference between training, facilitation and action learning set facilitation
  • understand and experience the role and impact of questioning insight in understanding problems presented
  • experience facilitating an action learning set which includes assisting the set in using a range of problem solving, decision making techniques to address presented issues

If you would like information on Action Learning Facilitator programmes feel free to contact Lisa Butterfill lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk or Kirsty Lowe Kirsty.Lowe@emcouncils.gov.uk on 01664 502 620.

What is action learning?

Action Learning is a reflective and questioning technique developed to aid in the understanding of challenges and issues experienced in a work environment. Action learning uses questioning insight to explore problems and identify options to deal with issues and actions to be taken.

Action learning involves a group of colleagues working on real issues in their workplace, with the intention of making things happen. It allows individuals to relate issues they have in a supportive environment and explore their issue in depth. Individuals make a commitment to tackle their own issue and to support other members in understanding their issues and challenges. 

What does an action learning set look like?

Action learning sets usually will have 6-8 people. The East Midlands Councils facilitated sets will meet every 6 weeks over the course of a year for half a day each time. Over the year the sets will be facilitated by East Midlands Councils a total of 6 times, allowing the group to determine when this takes place.

During set meetings individuals explain their issues, providing details to the other set members, which allows the group to explore what actions should be taken. The first meeting of the action learning set will provide a taster session on action learning and how it works, and will develop the ground rules for the group going forward.

What sort of issues do participants bring to the set?

Each set member brings their own work based issue or challenge to work on. It is important that the issue is real and actually matters to the individual. It must be part of their work and the individual must want to tackle it.

What are the benefits of action learning?

• Provides an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their current challenge
• Techniques to aid in the understanding of issues
• Provides a supportive environment
• Development of skills 

For more information on how Action Learning can support you or your authority please contact Kirsty Lowe Kirsty.Lowe@emcouncils.gov.uk or Lisa Butterfill Lisa.Butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk .

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Action Learning Sets

Problem Exploration using Action Learning

Solving Workplace Problems using Action Learning

EMC has developed a virtual Action Learning Programme, this can be delivered as a regional programme or offer in house within a specific authority.  The Action Learning programme is aimed at officers across local government, providing a focused opportunity for individuals who want to make progress, perhaps exploring work challenges where they feel stuck, or need space to be able to refocus and move forward.  The sessions will enable those involved to reflect on where they are now, and actions to create change and movement. 

An action learning set will provide an opportunity for individuals to reflect on where they are now, and what they have learnt from the experience.  It focuses on areas where individuals want to make progress, exploring work challenges and problems.

What are the benefits of being part of an action learning group?

  • Acquiring long-lasting problem-solving skills
  • Development of individual listening and diagnostic skills.
  • Provides an opportunity for individuals to reflect on their current challenge
  • Helps to evolve fresh ideas
  • Forms effective plans for immediate implementation
  • Achieves desired results in a constructive way
  • Provides a supportive and simultaneously challenging environment – both warmth and light! Challenges assumptions and deepens fundamental understanding of what might be done differently.
  • Provides a pattern of working that enables set members to work productively together on solving problems and challenges
  • It is transferable to the workplace so the individual and organisation can continue to benefit from progress and success.

How will the Virtual Action learning programme work?

EMC has developed a virtual action learning programme, comprising of 4 parts;

Part 1 - Introductory workshop.  This hour introductory workshop will explore how action learning can support you, the methodology behind the sessions and will give those taking part a taster to how the virtual sessions will work.  There will be an opportunity to ask questions too.

Pre reading and complete a problem brief – after the introductory workshop we’ll provide some additional background information and a guide to help focus your thoughts on what you would like to work on during the programme of action learning sessions. 

Part 2 - Three hour virtual Action learning session.  Each person will have time to work on their own problem, the group will decide how they use the time.  Individuals will identify their own actions they will take.

Part 3 - Three hour virtual Action learning session.  Individuals share progress and learning since the last session.  Each person will have time to reflect and or work on their own problem, the group will decide how they use the time.

Part 4 - Three hour virtual Action learning session.  This final session in the programme will again enable individuals to share progress and learning since the last session.  Each person will have time to reflect and or work on their own problem, the group will decide how they use the time.  There will be time to reflect on learning from the entire programme.

For more information on the costs of an in-house programme of action learning please contact Kirsty.lowe@emcouncils.gov.uk 

Numbers are limited to 6 per programme.  

In addition to our virtual action learning offer, EMC can deliver face to face action learning sets.

Who are the facilitators?

Lisa Butterfill is the HR and Development Manager at East Midlands Councils.  Lisa undertook the Postgraduate Certificate in Action Learning Facilitation in 2009 to ILM 7 level standard.  Lisa has facilitated action learning sets in the region and within authorities and also designed and delivered the action learning facilitators programme within the East Midlands Region and for organisations in Dorset and Cambridge.

Lisa has several years’ experience of direct training and facilitation skills delivery across a range of personal and management development areas with a particular interest in psychometrics, coaching and team development.

Kirsty Lowe is the Learning and Development Adviser at East Midlands Councils. Kirsty completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Action Learning Facilitation in 2009 and has been facilitating action learning sets across local government since.  Kirsty has facilitated several action learning sets within authorities to complement their development programmes as well as facilitating regional sets.  Kirsty has been instrumental in the design and delivery of this action learning facilitator’s programme both within authorities and across the region.  An accredited coach, Kirsty also leads on the Coaching Network in the East Midlands.

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Agile Working

EMC has been working with local authorities who recognise the benefit of developing flexible modern working practices to aid individual and organisational work performance and work-life balance. 

We work with each local authority to understand their aims and objectives in this regard and where they are on the journey in working this way to ensure the content and approach adds value.

Below is an outline of the type of workshops we have delivered recently together with the target audience:

Title: Managing Agile Workers with Confidence

Aimed at: Senior Management and Line Management

Objectives: To provide an opportunity to understand the differences in managing agile/ remote workers; listen to and support any concerns and share suggestions and actions for effective implementation

Delivery: Initial workshop (informal discussion based) to cover the following aspects:

  • Understanding the difference between agile/working managing remotely and managing people on site?
  • Exploring the reality of the change (how many staff, how often)
  • Exploring hopes and fears about agile working/managing remotely
  • How to transition to a culture of staying in touch – connectivity rather than visibility.  Remaining visible to their teams if they are not on site.
  • How to manage people without seeing them -  performance management, fostering a culture of TRUST, delegation
  • Action planning for your area

The workshop could include hearing from Managers and team members that already work in this way either internal to or external to the organisation.

Duration: 3.5 hours (up to 20 delegates on each session)

Methods: The face to face workshop can be supplemented by an e-learning module from the learning pool platform if the organisation already subscribes

Methods: A follow up workshop to discuss and share how the action plans are progressing and continue the dialogue on any issues or concerns within 4-6 months of the original workshop

Title: Working Remotely with Confidence/Agile Working with Confidence

Aimed at: Team Members working remotely

Objectives: To understand the differences in working remotely; listen to and support any concerns and share suggestions and actions for effective implementation

Methods: Initial workshop (informal discussion based) to cover the following aspects:

  • Understanding the difference between working remotely and being office based
  • Exploring the reality and impact of the change
  • Exploring hopes and fears about working remotely
  • Staying in touch – connectivity rather than visibility – what you can put in place to help yourself and colleagues stay connected
  • Taking Personal Responsibility for your performance
  • Personal Action planning (linked to team/area action plan)

The workshop could include hearing from any team members in the authority (or external to the authority) that already work in this way.

Duration: 3 hours (up to 20 delegates on each session)

Methods: If appropriate the face to face workshop can be supplemented by an e-learning module.

Methods: A follow up workshop to discuss and share how the action plans are progressing and continue the dialogue on any issues or concerns

Duration: 2.5 hours

Costs: For a full day workshop the cost is £750.00 + VAT plus mileage and for a half day workshop the cost is £500.00 + VAT plus mileage

For more information contact Lisa Butterfill - lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk

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Mediation is one of the services offered by East Midlands Councils to local councils and the wider public and third sector.  Over the past year we have seen an increase in the number of mediation requests we have successfully supported. 

Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process aimed at helping people to resolve disputes and improve working relationships.  It is an informal and alternative approach to more formal procedures.

East Midlands Councils can offer qualified and independent mediators who will facilitate the process with the aim of helping the individuals to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their problems.  We can also provide advice to organisations in how to integrate mediation into their resolution processes.

Some of the main benefits of mediation are:-

  • It empowers the individuals to resolve conflict
  • It is quick – mediation can be arranged in a few days and the process can usually be completed in one day
  • It provides an alternative to formal procedures

The advantages of using East Midlands Councils for mediation are:-

  • We have a pool of qualified mediators
  • We are completely independent and impartial – an important factor for successful mediation
  • We offer the service at not-for-profit rates

For further information about our mediation services or to speak to one of our mediators about how mediation can assist in a particular situation, please contact Lisa Butterfill on lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk or 01664 502643

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Outplacement Support and Career Counselling

East Midlands Councils provides Outplacement and Career Transition Support on a not-for-profit basis, enabling Councils to support affected employees in a cost-effective way, without compromising on the quality of the support provided.

EMC has recently been partnering with local authorities to support individuals and our aim is to support both the organisation, by demonstrating their interest and care in the future success of their employee elsewhere, and the individual, with tailored practical and useful support.

Drawing on our extensive HR and Learning & Development experience the approach we take is to conduct initial personal development planning discussions to explore the type of support that would be most useful.  The following aspects are just some of the ways in which we can help:-

  • Support with CV writing and preparation
  • Preparing for interviews and practice with interviews
  • Understanding and Preparing for assessment centres
  • Personality questionnaires and a range of other self-assessment exercises to support career planning
  • Coaching as part of personal development and career counselling 
  • Job search techniques
  • Signposting to other relevant supporting agencies, eg for self-employment, retirement etc.
  • Interim management opportunities
  • Change management and managing transitions, e.g. for remaining staff and managers
  • Developing resilience

The above can be provided for groups of employees as well as on an individual basis, depending upon your needs.  This is not an exhaustive list and should you have other requirements we would be pleased to listen and advise how these can be met. 

Below is just some of the feedback we have received from individuals we have supported in 2021;

  • "Just to let you know I was successful in the interviews and the help and supported you provided was a massive help and is greatly appreciated"
  • "I wanted to get in touch to say thank you! You kindly gave me hints and tips on interviewing which were extremely helpful". 
  • "I can honestly say that the help you gave me preparing did help, given the seniority of the role I was applying for".

To discuss your requirements or for further information, please contact  Lisa Butterfill lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk or Sam Maher sam.maher@emcouncils.gov.uk or call 01664-502620.

Last updated 1.3.2021

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Team Development

East Midlands Councils regularly designs and delivers team development support to local authority members (and private organisations) tailored to their individual requirements.  We have effectively supported both officer and member senior leadership teams to achieve their team development outcomes as well as working with a very wide range of functional teams and whole service areas.

Common Team Building Objectives

Some of the common team building objectives we have worked with before (whether for a new team or revitalising an existing team) include:

  • To help the team get better acquainted with one another, the team leadership and the team culture
  • To discover individual and team styles and preferences
  • To foster an exchange of view points
  • To learn and practice better ways of working together
  • To unify the team around a common purpose, understanding and vision for the future
  • To develop actions plans for effective indiviual and team growth

Core Issues that affect teams

In addition to the individuals and the team understanding themselves and one another better in order to work together effectively, we also provide focused half day workshops on some of the core issues that affect teams; communication, team culture, change, decision making/problem solving, resilience and leadership. A brief outline of suggested content is described below - however, we always develop content and delivery in line with the desired needs and outcomes.

  • To increase your understanding of differences in communication and influencing styles
  • To develop greater awareness of how you use your preferences to communicate and influence
  • To identify where you might need to adjust your communication style for maximum impact and to successfully influence others
  • To equip you with practical tips to help you communicate and influence effectively
  • To explore your own approach to stressful situations
  • To understand your motivators and stress triggers and your typical response to these to help build resilience
  • To develop strategies for handling pressure and building resilience
  • To understand change both to help take charge of your own needs and support colleagues
  • To explore how your preferences affect reactions to change, how to deal with change, the effects of imposed change, change fatigue, cynicism, stress and leadership through change
  • To help leaders implement and talk about change in a way that will appeal to all types of people
Decision Making/Problem Solving
  • To build awareness of your preferred decision making style
  • To learn about how personality preferences influence decision making
  • To develop strategies to make decision-making more effective
Team/Organisational Culture
  • Exploring further how the team works together to maximise effectiveness
  • Identifying team strengths and potential blind spots
  • Developing a balanced adn unified team vision (which could result in a team mission statement)
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

We often (but not exclusively) use MBTI to help teams understand themselves and each other better as it provides a neutral language to explore what is possible.  The MBTI is a personality tool based on the theories of Carl Jung.  It is non judgemental and allows people to gain an understanding of their preferences in how they see and interact with the world. Identifying psychological type preferences gives you access to the rich framework that describes normal differences in how people are energised, gather information, make decisions and approach the external world.


For delivery of a full day workshop the discounted cost for local authority members is £750.00 + VAT and associated expenses, eg travel and any test costs.  For example the MBTI reports range from £30.00 - £59.50+ VAT.  Half day workshops can be delivered at the discounted cost for local authority members of £500.00 + VAT and associated expenses.

Feedback and Contact Details

Our focus is on providing a quality intervention that meets our customers' needs.  The feedback we have received demonstrates that the support we are providing is valuable and the fact that our customers return to us for ongoing support is testament to this.  We can provide references for all the work we have undertaken if this would be of help.

If you would like to understand more about how we can help please contact either Lisa Butterfill, HR & Development Manager, lisa.butterfill@emcouncils.gov.uk or 01664 502643 or Sam Maher, Director of HR and Councillor Development, sam.maher@emcouncils.gov.uk or 01664 502642.

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